So yesterday I asked a group of small business owners and freelancers what they were struggling with. It popped up that if nothing else, we were all very British. By that I mean, that these small business owners were scared to ask for reviews, or use real life people in case studies. Now whilst I’ve written about reviews before, I thought I’d focus on 7 Ways to Write a Perfect Case Study, That Customers Will Buy From.
Case studies are a brilliant way to tell your customers how important, valuable and life saving your products or services really are. They go beyond simple testimonials and reviews by showing real-life examples of how you were able to satisfy your customer’s needs and help them accomplish their goals. Not only that but the customer will get a genuine, and if done right, an authentic feel as to how you work and how you identify as different to your competition. With perfect case studies, you will be able to highlight your successes in a way that will make your ideal potential customer become your customer by buying from you. The following are 7 ways to make your case studies a powerful asset in getting new business and customers.
Write About Someone Your Ideal Customer Can Relate To
Do you know who your ideal customer is? (The follow up to that would be, if not, why not?)
If it’s someone in a small retail business, then make your case studies about small business retail customers. If it’s someone in the coaching profession, then make your case studies about coaching content, getting leads and visibility.
The end goal is to make sure that once your ideal customers have read your case studies, they will feel:
- You are comfortable in their industry, sector or niche.
- You know their specific problems, needs, goals and end results
Think about it on a smaller level, such as when you’re reading a how-to blog post, (a bit like this one). Most of them are geared toward average readers.
But when you come across a how-to post specifically designed for your needs (such as How to Scale Up Your Small Business or 5 Ways to grow Your Business Faster ), then you are more likely to understand and apply the information. The same goes with case studies – people who read about results attained in their industry, sector or niche will feel like the same products / services will work for them as well. They will end up wanting and needing what you sell, how you do it and why you do it, because the evidence is in front of them.
Tell the Story of The Customer Journey from Start to Finish
Humans love a story. Since the day’s of us being young children, every single one of us is fascinated with a good tale, anecdote or joke. A great case study will allow someone to really get to know the customer in the case study including:
- Who is the sample customer and what do they do?
- What specifically was the customers problem?
- What were the customer’s goals?
- What were the customer’s needs?
- How did you help your customer and satisfy those problems, needs and goals?
Another thing you could do is just simply follow up with the customer in the case study and update your case study a few months down the road to show how your products / services are continuing to have long term benefits for the customer. This would give readers the opportunity to see that your goal is not only to help with immediate problems, needs and goals, but also to ensure long term results.
This is an especially interesting opportunity if you currently have no case studies on your website or LinkedIn profiles. You may have worked with your customers 3, 6, 12 months ago, but it also provides a vital opportunity to connect with customers and solidify your working relationship.
Make it Easy to Read and to Follow
No one really likes to read one huge chunk of text, no matter how interesting and informative it might be. Be sure to use good content formatting elements as you would with articles, blog posts, and copywriting on your website including:
- Bulleted lists
- Bolded & italic text
In addition to providing great SEO value for your case studies page, these formatting elements will help your readers (especially those that like to skim), find the most important parts of your case study and get a great impression about what your business could do for them.
Now I’m going to go one step further and ask you to put the case study into a framework that not only works brilliantly with reviews because it’s easy to follow and easy to understand.
My Best Kept Business Secret for your perfect case study formula is:
- Customers problem / goal / need
- The agitator for the customer
- The solution for the customer – what you did, how you did it and why you did it
- The end result
Not too hard is it? And very simple to follow.
I just want to highlight two areas here, which are ‘the agitator for the customer’ and the ‘solution for the customer’.
The agitator is very important. We are in a world where our customers react best to pain points. Now it sounds quite evil and masochistic when I say this, but some customers need to understand that the pain will really hurt if they don’t take action right now on something that is currently just a problem. I’ll give you an example; “John was 10 stone over weight and wanted to lose some weight.” That’s just a problem or a goal, so here is where the ‘agitator’ comes in. “If John didn’t lose that 10 stone, given his height and age, there would be a very good chance that he would never see his daughter walk down the aisle to get married, or play with his grandchildren because not only was he overweight, he had become unfit and at a far higher rate of having a heart attack within the next 5 years, making him yet another unfortunate statistic in the fight against obesity.”
If naming the problem, goal or target narrows down your customer, then this narrows it down further but makes it very real, very painful and something that they really need to sort out.
When I look at the ‘what, how and why’ of this formula I’m going to be getting you to think like my personal inspiration, Simon Sinek from his Ted Talk and book of the same title, “Start with Why”. To put a finer point on it, you all have competition in your market place. You are not the only small business or business person that does what you do. So when you get to write case studies you have the opportunity to make yourself stand out by being able to tell people ‘WHY’ you do what you do in a non-conceited way. So let’s take John’s example as a way to show you what I mean: “I used to be like John. At the age of 41, I was very depressed, 12 stone overweight, very unfit and on more medication than a small pharmacy. I was meant to be in the prime of my life, but here I was at risk of ending up yet another statistic. So using my own personal experiences I….”
Customers buy on emotion. Customers want authentic. Customers want experts. By following this easy to read formula, you will really get to the heart and emotion of your customers far faster.
Include Real Numbers…and I Mean Real Numbers
Have you ever read case studies where a business states that they “doubled traffic” for their customers website or social media views in their case study and wondered if what they actually meant was that they went from 10 to 20 visits, or was it 10,000 to 20,000 visits? Certain ways of displaying numbers can have an ambiguous meaning. Remember that saying; “There are 3 types of lies – lies, damn lies and statistics!” You will want your case study to be as clear as day. So instead of just saying you doubled their traffic, show them real numbers and (if possible) real proof.
This way, the reader can see where the customer began and where the customer ended up with your help. They can see real, tangible results. Plus having the picture proof can help the reader envision exactly what you might do for them, making the case study that much more powerful.
Talk Specific Strategy
So you doubled a website’s traffic or sales, right? How did you do it?
This is where you sell your products or services simply by saying which ones you used and how they led to the desired result. You shouldn’t just say “our online marketing services led to these results.” Instead, you should say “it was a combination of a three-month dedicated social media campaign focusing on Facebook & YouTube and five months of link building that led to an increase in rankings plus brand exposure that led to these results.”
Again this is very important to the formula, but also gives you a chance to explain why you used these methods. Is it more cost effective? Is it faster? Is it more long term or short term? Show you are really solving the problem that your customers has.
Check out the real life example below…
Try Different Formats
While people like stories, case studies do not have to be fit into story form every time. You could try different types of case studies, such as an interview format where you have your clients answer the same questions mentioned earlier about what they do, their needs, their goals, and how you met them. Getting your customers to tell their stories in their own words will make the case study even more relatable to your ideal customer than you telling the story, which leads me nicely on to…
Appeal to Different Types of Consuming Content and Learning
This is something I’m very passionate about and at present we live in a wonderful world where we can satisfy everyones needs. It’s a proven fact that not everyone consumes things in the same way the next person does. Some learn by reading, some learn by listening and some learn by watching. When I created the small business platform “Your Best Kept Business Secret”, one of our missions going forward is that any articles that are written, can be consumed by reading, listening or watching, so we can satisfy as many small business owners learning needs as possible.
So consider taking your text-based case studies and re-purposing the content as:
- A podcast
- A YouTube video
- Or even an infographic
The bonus with YouTube videos and infographics is that they are easy to share. Plus, with the ease of use of our smartphones and the invention of easy to use graphics tools such as Canva, it’s never been easier or more affordable to use different ways of communication to get your case study in front of your customers. It also means that your case study may go further than just your own site, leading to more of your potential customers finding out how they could benefit from your products or services.
So What’s Stopping You?
As you’ve seen you can achieve a perfect case study for your customers to buy from you. Following the formula means that your ideal customers and clients will be able to connect with you and know how you can help them solve their problems.
By following the process, you tell a story and stories really do sell. You show that you understand your customer, who that customer is, what their motivations are, along with showing who you are, how you work, why you do the work you do and how working with you will potentially be the best move that they ever made. It’s time to get in touch with those customers and get started now!
If you want help with who to speak to, what to ask them our even options of where your case studies should go, just give me a call on my FREE 30 Minute Focus Call!