What Are the Basic Elements of a Case Study?
Ready to use powerful case studies in your marketing plan?
Three elements you must include.
Leveraging social proof and the power of storytelling, case studies prove to be one of the most effective forms of content marketing any organization can use. At its core, a case study is the story of how one of your customers used your product or service to solve a pressing problem.
Here are the three elements persuasive case studies all share:
It doesn’t matter whether your organization’s business model focuses on offering products, services, or some combination of both; what drives customers to do business with you is their search for a solution to a problem. It doesn’t matter whether you sell B2B or B2C – business is driven by solving problems.
The first element a compelling case study includes is a presentation of the problem your subject faced. What was the problem? How bad was it? What aggravated the problem? What would happen if the problem did not get resolved?
Your case study writer should expound on the problem, including enough detail and a powerful quote from the subject. The goal is to tell the story of this problem in enough detail and with enough vivid description to have your prospects who read this piece nearly squirming and feeling their palms sweating because they so completely identify with the problem themselves. It’s not enough to state just the facts. In your description of the situation, pour salt in the wound. Rarely do businesses and individuals take action unless the pain of NOT taking action becomes too great.
In this section, you’ll detail the steps your subject took to solve the problem. Most likely, yours was not the first solution they tried. Detail the long and looping journey your subject endured in the quest for a solution. What other solutions were tried first? What happened? How did those solutions make matters worse? How close to giving up did your subject come? What pressures mounted because no effective solution could be found? How did their prior attempts to solve the problem make them skeptical about the potential of your solution? What objections nearly made them ignore the solution you offer?
Your goal in this section is two-fold: to continue engaging your prospect, and to address the objections and concerns they have, too. It may work well to follow the Feel, Felt, Found pattern as you address the objections you raise in your case study. Describe the concerns your prospects feel as they consider your solution. Validate their questions by demonstrating that other customers felt the same way. Discuss what your subject found as a result of moving forward – in essence, that their original concerns and objections were unfounded.
This section serves as an “After” to the Problem section’s “Before”. As your readers reach the end of the case study, if you have written it using effective storytelling elements, they are eager to find out what happened next. They are feeling more confident than ever that your solution will work for them. They are drawing parallels between themselves and your case study subject, and they want to know exactly how well your solution worked in this case.
Include as many specifics as you can: tangible results, statistics, numbers, quotations, and percentages to show improvement of the situation. Don’t round your numbers. Specific and exact numbers are far more compelling. Be sure to detail the domino effect caused by resolving the original challenge. How did your customer’s situation improve? What resources and opportunities did your solution open to them? What would your case study subject say to others seeking a solution to the same problem?
With a well-written case study, you have the opportunity to hold your prospects in the palm of your hand, leaving them wanting to read more, leading them to see themselves in the storyline of your very satisfied customers.
Will case studies work for your organization? Should you allocate staff resources to create them in-house?
Request a complimentary consultation to find out.