Case studies: add story-telling to your list of profitable marketing skills

Everyone loves a good story. Savvy marketers take advantage of our love for good stories when they use case studies as marketing material.

Think about it. We tuck our children in with a bed time story. In our own childhood, fairy tales expanded our imaginations. As adults, we enjoy stories as shown in blockbuster movies. We spark conversation with new people by telling interesting anecdotes. Even more noteworthy, we beam with pride at our and others’ success stories.

Simply defined, case studies are satisfied customer testimonials written in story format. They range in length from a few paragraphs to a few pages. These past success stories convince potential customers of the benefits of using a specific product or service.

Usually written according to an outline, case studies explain:

  • a customer or market’s background
  • a problem that needs to be solved
  • the company’s solution
  • positive results of the company’s solution

Customer testimonials are great ways to build credibility and show potential customers that you’re legit. They’re short and sweet, BUT they are easily forgotten.

Case studies do a much better job of staying put in a consumer’s memory. Even if they are longer, case studies are more engaging to potential customers if well written. Remember that. Length is no factor where a good story steals the show.

Everyone loves a good story.

To further explain a case study’s effectiveness, consider these two scenarios.

Scenario A: Your friend Leslie just landed a high-paying job with a reputable company. Of course you’re happy for her. Your congrats are genuine. You go out for drinks with Leslie to help her celebrate. It’s a night she’ll never forget… but will you?

Now think about it another way.

Scenario B: Leslie often missed campus parties, weekend getaways and late night kickbacks during college- instead choosing to attend study group sessions. To stay up cramming. To turn in early for the night so she’d be well rested for next morning’s exam. Because of her sacrifices, Leslie earned an Economics degree in three years rather than the 4-6 years it takes the average student.

Despite Leslie’s accomplishments, she’s been employed at the local Starbucks for about a year. You know she has been seeking employment in her field but hasn’t been able to find anything. Leslie frequently vents to you the frustration of being treated like “just a dumb cashier” although she graduated Magna Cumme Laude.

One day Leslie calls you up in excitement. She explains how she just landed a job with a Fortune 500 company she has always wanted to work for. Her salary is about $15,000 more than she expected to make entry-level. Most importantly, she’ll be putting her passion and expertise to work.

In both scenarios, you may word your congratulations the exact same way. You and Leslie may celebrate by going for drinks at the same bar, on the same night, wearing the same outfits. But there’s a difference.

You are much more invested in the second scenario. You know the background and details of Leslie’s success. You empathise with her feelings about her problem finding a good job. Her memorable experience becomes yours. This is how a case study works.

So let’s recap.

Case studies are written reports detailing the experiences of satisfied customers. They help potential customers

  • understand your market/industry experience
  • find out more about your products or services
  • see how you conduct business
  • imagine themselves using your services (BINGO!)

Do you have any positive testimonials?

How can you make them into compelling case studies?

If you’re using case studies already, how have they helped your marketing efforts?

Nikki Robinson is a freelance web copywriter and a member of American Writers & Artists Inc. Her background and experience includes business management, sales & marketing, telecommunications and legal writing. Contact her at Nikki@RobinsonWriting.com or visit RobinsonWriting.com for more info.

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