Case Studies are little-used marketing gems that use the power of storytelling to help people make better buying decisions. They’re more commonly used in business to business (B2B) organisations; particularly IT and business services, but I believe anyone can use them. A case study is simply a story. A story told, not by you, but by someone you have helped. You and your organisation take a back-seat and let your happy customers take the stage.

The way I buy has changed. Maybe it’s age, but the impulsive purchase that was a hallmark of my younger days has gone. I’m a far more considered consumer now. This has stopped me making irrational purchases. (It shames me – but yes, I did buy a set of digital DJ Decks for no apparent reason.)

[thrive_headline_focus title=”Asking My Chums” orientation=”left”]

If I’m considering a purchase, whether it’s for business or pleasure, I do a couple of things. Firstly I ask my mates. Being the 432nd most popular man in the world, you can imagine how long that process takes. Naturally, I cut through that by turning to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I ask for advice from trusted friends. I don’t have a structure, but as the conversation develops, this is what I typically find out –

  • What have they used?
  • Why did they choose it?
  • How much was it?
  • Where did they buy it?
  • What else did they consider?

I’m blessed with great real and virtual friends – but their recommendations and suggestions don’t automatically having me hitting the big bold ‘Buy Now’ button.

Their advice helps me draw up the shortlist. But I need to do my homework and apply my own filters before making a final decision.

[thrive_headline_focus title=”Digging Deeper” orientation=”left”]

Once I’ve got my shortlist, the research phase begins. I’ll visit the potential vendor’s website and read about the product or service I’m interested in. If they’ve got a video, I’ll watch that. The time and depth I go into are directly related to how much it costs. The bigger the ticket the price, the longer the research.

All the while, I’m looking for social proof. I’m looking for people to help make my buying decision as simple as possible. If it’s a business product I’m buying, I look to see if it’s been used by other writers or marketing professionals. I’m looking for context. Would this product work for me? Is it the best product for my particular circumstances?

[thrive_headline_focus title=”Testimonial Turnoff” orientation=”left”]

If I’m about to spend a serious amount of money and time on a new product for the business, I want a bit more than a short, generic sounding testimonial. Don’t get me wrong, testimonials have their place and can add value, but they so often don’t. In some cases, I’m a bit cynical about the testimonials I read. They don’t give any detail or provide any context.

Case Studies – Testimonials’ bigger, bolder and better-looking brother.

A story well told, by someone who sounds just like me, is far more likely to peak my interest. I’ll engage with that. I’ll spend the time reading because it relates directly to me. I put myself in the shoes of the person telling the story. All the better if there are more than one case study available.

[thrive_headline_focus title=”The Case Study Structure” orientation=”left”]

Case studies work because the structure is much like the stories we come across every day. The ‘Problem – Solution – Result’ framework is much like the ‘Beginning – Middle – End’ structure of the tales we read in books and watch on the big and small screens. We remember stories, and we connect with them. That’s why I’m personally drawn to case studies. And that’s why they influence my buying decisions.

[page_section template=’2′ position=’default’][thrive_headline_focus title=”The Case Study Structure” orientation=”center”]

Overview – A Brief Snapshot of your case study.

The Star – Introducing the subject of the case study.

The Problem – What challenge did The Star face?

The Solution – How did your product or service solve their problem?

The Result – What was the end result?

The Quote – A direct quote from your happy client?[/page_section]

[thrive_headline_focus title=”Could Case Studies help your customers?” orientation=”left”]

Case studies, like so many things, are hugely personal. But I believe two things. Firstly, you should try them out in your business. And secondly – that you can do them yourself. If you have any current testimonials, maybe you could use these as the starting point for a case study? They’ve already shown a willingness to speak out on your behalf – would they be your case study ‘Guinea Pig’? Remember, the key thing is to identify your client’s problem, how you solved it and what the results were.

If you’ve got any questions about case studies, please let me know. And, if you come across any great case study examples – please add the link in the comments and I’ll add to a future case study blog post.

P.S. To help, I’ve created a free 5 Week Email course called The Case Study Code – you can register for free here. 

P.P.S. – You can download The Case Study Code Template by clicking here. 

P.P.P.S. – I have gone down to 433 in the list. #Gutted.

Published by Kev Anderson

I'm a storyteller, case study specialist and the founder of The Story Edge. I want more people to tell more stories. I write stories, teach people to do the same and generally encourage people to use storytelling in their business.

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