Maybe you’ve been on a sales call and everything is going really well. You’re connecting with your potential customers, you’re feeling good and then all of the sudden the ask, “Do you have any examples of other clients you can share with me so I can better understand how you work?”
You begin to stumble and trip over your words. “Well, um. . . not written up no.”
You try and recover by offering referrals, asking more questions and even telling them you’ll get them something by the end of the day – but, your momentum is lost and your chances of closing the deal have just gone down . . . significantly.
You get off the call and maybe you even blame the potential client. “Who asks for something like that – each situation is so different!” You fume because the truth is that you wish you had thought of that in the first place.
And then you sit down at the computer – determined to write something and nothing comes up.
Even if you haven’t been in this situation yet, it’s bound to come up at some point – a potential client will ask you for some proof that what you do works!
In marketing lingo, this kind of thing is normally referred to as a case study – an in-depth analysis that tells a story about a customer and your company.
Kind of like a testimonial, a case study is a story that you can use to market your business. It expands on the testimonial in that it allows you to state the problem your customer had and explain how your business provided a solution. The reader gets an idea of what might happen if they were to work with you.
In a world where trust is everything, a case study can help you establish trust without them having to try your services – and that can make the difference between closing the sale – and not.
Now, before we get into the details of what needs to go into a case study, it’s important to note that not every business needs a formal case study. Sometimes, just knowing some of the results that are typical for your clients might be enough to convince someone.
At the same time, having something you can always have ready to send to prospective clients can help knock out nerves and make you feel more confident on your sales calls.
And that’s true whether you’re a copywriter, life coach, attorney, nutritionist, marketing expert or software salesman.
So, how do case studies really help you?
Case studies can be used multiple ways. First, you can use a case study as a blog post or a page that you add to your website. As a content marketer, I believe that any content that can convince your potential customers to work with you is added value – so having something that lives on what I call the soul of your business (your website) can be handy – it’s like having someone hanging out on your website ready to do the heavy lifting.
You can also use your case study as material that you send to your local newspaper or magazine to highlight what you do. You can also post your case study on places where your customers might hang out – like LinkedIn or certain Facebook Groups (but beware of group rules about promoting your business inappropriately).
Case studies can also be used as a routine part of your email blasts or social media posts. By sharing snippets and details about what it might be like to work with you, potential customers just casually hanging out on social media might be convinced to buy!
By sharing what it might be like to work with you on potential outlets, the likelihood of reaching your target audience increases with each opportunity.
Elements of a Good Case Study.
Now that you know how they can help you, I’m sure you’re wondering what exactly goes into a case study?
Here are some of the basic parts that every case study needs:
(1) State the Problem: The first place you’ll want to start is with a description of the client’s history and the problems they were facing. Take the time to outline this section because if a potential customer can recognize themselves in some of the problems your customer had, they’re more likely to see the possibility that you offer.
(2) Walk Through Your Customer Experience: Customers want to know what it might be like to work with you. Take the time to outline the steps you took to solve the problem and the methods you used to tackle the problem. Potential customers want to know what customer service looks like or how you might approach a problem they would have. Describe some of the needs your client had and how you met those needs. Or lay the foundation of the process you use each and every time.
The key is to make sure you paint a clear picture of what each step looks like.
(3) RESULTS! It seems almost obvious, but you will want to highlight some of the results. Even if they feel personal or intangible, listing out some of the results can make a big difference. People want to know that if they’re paying you, that something will actually be different!
And even if you think the results are no-big-deal, make sure that you write them out. What may seem simple to you can be a big result for your prospective client.
(4) Findings. This one may not seem as obvious, but you’ll want to explain how the project made a difference in your business. Maybe it taught you that you work best with clients over a period of time or that you improved your process as a result of working with this client – but showing your own personal findings adds a little dose of humility to who you are.
The fact that your clients can help you grow and discover ways to provide better service is music to a prospective client’s ears. So, don’t forget this section and make sure it’s real – don’t write something you think a potential client wants to hear – but instead, focus on what you really learned and how it allowed your business go grow!
Ok, so now it’s your turn!
The best way to write a case study is to just dive in!
Spend an hour or two this week and write out an outline to help you get started. Don’t look for perfection – just get all the information down on paper and ask yourself – if you were in your potential client’s shoes, what would you want to know.
And, if you need a little extra help, all you have to do is sign up for one of my free 30 minute consultations and I’ll get you pointed in the right direction!
P.S. To sign up for 30 minutes free – click here!