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Case Studies for Marketing Number 1 - What Are They All About?

By Lesley Peters

All businesses need success stories. Case studies are a powerful tool to showcase your product or service for prospective customers. They are proof and evidence of the results you provide to customers. They demonstrate to prospects what they can expect when using your services, or products. Your case studies help prospects understand how you solve real-world problems, and the positive outcome reached for your customer. Case studies are marketing collateral to show your readers how you solve a similar problem to theirs.

Planning your Case Study

When planning your business success story, think about whether you want it to be an article, or video. With the social media phenomenon exploding, you may want to create a video, by having an interview with your customer, so that he or she can explain face-to-face how your solution solved their problem, with a description of your work. If you choose a video format, you can interview your customer, and ask questions that provide the answers you need.

Or, you may choose a more traditional method, and write an article that is anywhere from 2-4 pages, and approximately 800-1500 words. Written case studies benefit from charts, graphs, photographs, sidebars, and large amounts of white space. You may want to hire a graphic designer to help you with the layout. If you are going to write several studies, consider a specific format, length, and outline of topics to provide consistent results for all your studies.

Written case studies usually have sections that include:

1. Your customer’s core business background, description, with a focus on their business problem.

2. The solutions your customer considered, and why they chose the solution they did.

3. The steps required to implement your solution.

4. The results the customer achieved (cost savings, improved employee productivity, return on investment, improved efficiency)

5. Outcome of your solution – did you solve the customer’s problem? Explain the outcome with specific examples of your results, with improvements and advantages for your client. Any specific numbers add to your credibility.

To collect all this information, you need to have input from your client. You’ll use the information they provide, and use quotes, examples, and any collateral they wish to share with you.

Preparing for the Client Interview

Before you meet with your client, spend some time learning about their current business issues, any new industry items, and review the project you did with them. Here are additional tips before meeting with your customer.

• Choose the best person in the organization to interview, who has the time and knowledge to talk to you, and who will review your study for accuracy and validity.

• Lay out your expectations ahead of your meeting so that you and the client have a mutual understanding of your process.

• Create a list of topics you want to discuss, and share the list with your contact before you meet.

• Explain the value of the case study for them (article appearing in a trade journal, showcase and publicity for their company doing business more effectively).

• Ask them for permission to use helpful quotes for your study.

Using the suggestions above, plan your meeting carefully so you maximize time with your client to get all the information you need.

During the Interview

Meet with your client, and discuss the benefits of your solution, as well as the challenges they meet, how long the solution took, and how the solution had to be integrated into their business, and what that entailed. Finish the meeting by discussing the review process with them, and what expectations you have for them.

Your new step is the writing of the case study, based on your information and the interview nuggets you learned in your client meeting. (see Case Studies for Marketing Number 2 - How to Write Them and Generate More Publicity)






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