Customer case studies are a vital marketing tool. Offering up customer praise has genuine editorial power and can help secure new orders. But how is it best to portray those all-important tangible benefits and returns on investment?
Well, after a powerful headline and compelling opening paragraph, most case studies can be made to fit a kind of formula. For instance, describe the customer; the existing problem; your company’s proposal; the selection criteria; the challenges overcome; the implementation; the result and benefits achieved; and feedback from the customer.
Avoid jargon and sales spiel at all costs. Phrases like ‘global leader’, ‘market authority’ and ‘best-in-class’ are an instant turn-off for editors and readers alike.
Other important factors to consider are the timely inclusion of a few succinct cross-headings, and article length. Too short and the case study will likely lack the detail that makes it intriguing; too long and it will simply encourage the editor to give it a severe cut. Lastly, always seek customer approval of the final draft.
With this in mind, generating a good customer case study can play an important part in helping your company win new orders. Case studies are not only third-party references that demonstrate why your business is an expert in its field, they also lend credibility to publications and are hence liked by editors keen to offer up “proof in the pudding” stories.
What follows is a 10-step guide to getting it right.
Top tips for case study writing
- The first hurdle to overcome is that not every customer wants to participate in case studies. Here, try and sell the ‘free publicity’ benefit, or offer a little incentive: waiving the delivery charge in exchange for a case study agreement, for example.
- After selecting the most striking accomplishment for the article headline, there are certain rules regarding the crucial opening paragraph. In essence, this is a single opportunity to engage readers and entice them onwards. Opting for a tightly written, punchy tone that summarises the most important benefits and savings is sure to score well.
- From here, introduce the customer with an interesting line or two and outline the problem it faced and the= solution proposed by your company.
- After this, describe how the customer heard about your products/services and the factors that led to selection over solutions offered by competitors. This can lead into the main challenges posed by the contract/project and how they were overcome. Most of the technology trade press bemoan the lack of genuine technical detail in case studies, so don’t shy away from the technology speak.
- The next and most important step is to major on the benefits achieved for the customer and the ROI/savings accrued. If possible, use financials, as hard cash always speaks loudest. However, if this information is confidential then express in percentage terms. Where there are no financial benefits, focus instead on other advantages such as shorter turnaround, enhanced quality and better reliability.