Here are 9 reasons why you absolutely should use case studies in your business!
(1) Case studies are stories! People love stories. They remember them much better than a string of facts about your business. You can use stories to explain otherwise boring and hard-to-convey facts. Stories can convey good feelings and take your listeners on your journey, with their happy consent!
(2) Case studies take the focus away from you, (in case you cringe at self promotion), and point to what you can do instead! We all know how to tell stories and since you are merely recalling things that already happened, you can just throw yourself into the telling!
(3) With a real live star in your story, your case studies are verifiable, therefore building your credibility. I recommend providing real names and details where possible and with the client’s permission. Photographs, videos and audio clips will make your case studies even more engaging and memorable!
(4) Experts use case studies, so you will be positioned as an expert when you use them!
(5) Case studies help to build the know-like-trust factor. Your audience of ideal client-types can see themselves in your case studies and start to imagine how you could help them too. Your case studies also help to reduce the perception of risk because they take away the mystery, showing how you work, whom you help and the outcomes you facilitate.
(6) Case studies can go viral! It is easier to remember and retell a story than it is to remember your corporate facts. Include audio-visual elements for increased impact.
(7) Case studies spice up your presentation or content and are a welcome diversion from the main content, at the same time reiterating it!
(8) Case studies cost you little or nothing to create yet they could play a major role in bringing in new business.
(9) Case studies make great press releases and interview pitches. Since they include third party validation, they are more likely to interest the media. If this then leads to a media feature, it will further boost your credibility and build your platform.
How to put your case studies together
I love to use the S.T.A.R. model:
- Situation: Describe the client’s challenge.
- Task: What was the client trying to achieve? What were you helping them to do?
- Action: What did you do to take them where they wanted to go? You do not need to give away your trade secrets here! Just provide enough detail to take your audience on the journey in a logical and credible way.
- Results: What outcomes did you achieve together? Did you reach your goals? Were there challenges along the way? How did you overcome them? How did your client feel about the outcomes you helped them achieve? Use their words, in writing or as audio or video clips.
When and How to Collect Case Studies
I have a clause in my client contracts that says that I will be asking for their feedback as we work together and again at the end of our contract. I explain that this is to help me deliver the best possible experience and to help me improve my services. I also explain that I will be asking their permission to use their feedback in my marketing in the form of testimonials and case studies. Only ever use client stories with their written permission. A verbal agreement is NOT good enough. While my clients all have the option to decline, this alerts them that at some point, I will ask. And so they know it is coming. So far, no one has refused to give me such feedback or refused to let me tell their story as a case study. On my part, I do not use every client story. Rather, I pick those that best illustrate how I work and what I deliver.
I use the following methods to gain client testimonials:
- A get-started questionnaire that details the client’s situation before we began working together;
- A feedback form that I administer as the project progresses, to keep tabs on how things are unfolding and;
- An end-of-contract assessment to document our final outcomes and collect further client feedback.
This all makes it easy for me to use the S.T.A.R. model in creating my client case studies.
How to build case study buzz!
- Make them memorable! When sharing case studies, engage as many of the senses as possible. Pass around pictures and samples to a live audience or show these through slideshows and images. Include audio and video clips where possible. Display models, products, charts etc. Have your clients present to corroborate your story!
- Make them sharable! Provide links to your case studies so they can be shared online. Provide take-away sheets with your case studies and contact details on them. Put case studies in your printed newsletter. Make your printed stories look attractive and give people a reason to keep them e.g. summarize key points, provide a further reading list or a link to a free download at the end. Share your case studies on Slideshare and put them on your social media channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, your website and your blog.
- Make an irresistible offer with your case study presentation. Offer to help your audience achieve the same results you have just described and give them a compelling, irresistible reason to take up your offer now!
- Make them easily accessible. Apart from sharing your case studies at live presentations, make them available on your website and share the links where your target audience can see them. Share your case studies in your courses, at networking events and in interviews.
- Sound enthusiastic as you retell your client stories and your enthusiasm will rub off and spread!
- Share the bigger picture. What ripple effects did your results achieve for your clients? If you helped them lose weight, what other areas of their lives and work did this impact and how? Did you save them time or money? How did this affect their relationships and health? Did you save their failing business? How much money did you help them make? How was the rest of their life affected by their business success? When you paint the bigger picture this way, you help people see the total value in working with you. Then they are more likely to work with you and refer their friends, and less likely to baulk at your fees.
Now, you know why you must use case studies in your business, how to create them and how to use them to your advantage. Get started creating your case studies and have fun sharing your message!
How do you create and use case studies to effect in your business?