Yesterday we talked about what case studies are, and I gave you a few ideas on how a great case study can show off what’s special about your business. Today I’m going to give you a step by step guide to producing a case study that grabs your prospect and forces them to read every word.
(Just a side note: if you haven’t taken a look at yesterday’s article yet, here’s a quick rundown on what you need to know.
A case study is a marketing tool that shows your prospects the value of your offering.
Most of the time, a case study will:
- Share a compelling story that shows your how your company solved a customer’s problem.
- Present the story from your customer’s point of view.
- Display an angle that shows the unique thing that makes your company shine.
- Educate your prospects on the value of your offering.
Case studies are usually about one to four pages long. The very best of them tells a story that informs, entertains, and inspires.)
I’ll be honest with you: it’s not easy to craft a brilliant case study. But with a lot of time, hard work, and dedication, you should be able to get the job done. Of course, a professional copywriter will usually be eager to take that work off your hands if you don’t have the time.
So without any further ado, let’s get writing, shall we?
- Find one of your best, most typical customers, and schedule an interview with a representative.
Now, this is a pretty simple step in and of itself, but I wanted to take some time to talk about it so I could draw your attention to the two key words here. What are the key words?
They are: best and most typical (okay, technically that’s three words. Sorry.).
You want to have your interview with your best customers for plenty of reasons. First off, if they’re you’re best customers, you’re more likely to be able to get a compelling story when you interview them, right?
And I know this is probably pretty obvious, but I might as well say it anyways: just like it’s best to get a review or a testimonial from your best customers, it’s best to get a case study from them, too. They’ve got the most value out of your offering and they’ll have an infectious enthusiasm that will spread to the people who read your case study.
It might be a little less obvious why I say you should go with your most typical customers. But that’s just a matter of practicality. I mean, if you’re trying to show your prospects what your offering can do, you’re not going to want them to read about that customer who buys a half-dozen special services and none of your typical offerings, are you?
Of course not. You’re going to want to interview the customer who buys your most common offer. After all, you’re telling this customer’s story. Don’t you want it to be one your typical prospect can relate to?
Sure you do. So break out that phone or keyboard and schedule that interview!
- Prepare for and conduct the interview.
When it comes to it, a phone or Skype interview is just fine for this part. It takes some practice to get good at interviewing, but let me just give you a few pointers so you can get the information you need.
Here’s the main thing to remember when you’re conducting interviews: never forget what you need to get out the interview.
What’s that, then? First off, you want story you can share with your prospects to show them the value of your offer.
That means you want to know all the facts and figures of the company. You want to be able to explain what they do and why they do it. Simple enough, right?
Second, you want to know about the problem that led this company to approach yours. (Protip: make sure you’ve got a clear description of the problem and the pain points involved.)
Third: you want to know how your company solved the problem. (Of course, you already know this, but you want to get the story from your customer’s point of view.) When the time comes to write your story, this will be where your company swoops in to save your customer.
Last: you want to know the results. That means you want to know the statistics that prove the value you’ve provided.
With a practiced hand, you should be able to fit all this information into a short interview. No pressure, you’ve got this.
- Write your first draft.
Now that you’ve got it all together, it’s time to get into the writing process. Luckily for you, case studies generally have a pretty standard structure, so you don’t have a lot to worry about on that front.
Remember: you’re telling a story here. The same skills go into crafting a good case study that go into telling a good story.
So what’s a good story? A good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. In the beginning, you introduce your hero—in this case, your customer. In the middle, you introduce your hero’s problem and show them trying to solve it. And in the end, they solve it—with a little help from you and your company, of course!
Of course, describing basic story structure is one thing and actually writing an effective story is another thing. Skillful writing is a matter of practice and mastery, just like any other craft. But with time, discipline, and sheer will power, you can learn it.
- Edit and revise.
This part of the process is pretty obvious, I’ll admit. You tidy up your sentence structure. You check your spelling. You eliminate your passive verbs and you eliminate every word that doesn’t contribute to the meaning of your story.
You’ll probably want to give it to a few people you can trust to give you honest feedback on your work. Ask them if everything makes sense and if it all fits together just right.
(Trust me on this: I’ve written things I thought made perfect sense, but when I ran it by a couple of readers I found out I’d made some silly mistakes. You never can tell what people might misunderstand.)
Now that you’ve edited, pay attention to this part: before you use your case study for anything, you should run it by your customer and have them sign off on it. This is important: you want to get your customer to approve of the final article before you do anything with it.
So that’s the process! As always, thanks for reading and best of luck to you and your endeavors. Be sure to take a look at yesterday’s article if you want to know more about case studies. I’ll tell you some more about what you can use them for tomorrow!
Feel free to get in touch if you’ve got any questions. You can reach me in my comment section, or if you like you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.