A good case study describes the value and impact of the services you offer from your client’s perspective. This article outlines the six components of a compelling and effective case study.
“Do you have an example of that?” It’s the most common question we ask when interviewing companies for a thought leadership article. We’re looking for stories that bring the value of solutions and offerings to life. Specifically, we want to hear the details of how a client successfully used your services to drive tangible, measurable results in their own business. There’s really no better way to validate your company’s point-of-view than with a case story. And peppering thought leadership content with relevant examples makes for a more interesting and memorable read.
Of course, client stories can and should stand on their own in addition to being referenced in your content. Having these stories readily available on your website helps prospects vet your services. By building effective case stories you give potential new clients the chance to stand in your current clients’ shoes and see what it’s really like to work with you.
Here are the six components every good case study should use to make your clients’ successes as relatable as possible:
- Summary Statement
- Organizational Summary
- Problem Statement
- Solution Description
Summary Statement: Give the Cliffs Notes Version of the Story
Provide a brief snapshot of your client’s story—problem, solution, and outcome—in a few sentences or brief paragraph. Readers can get the key points and decide if they want to dive in and read the full case.
Organizational Summary: Position Your Client as the Hero
In a sidebar or callout, tell a little bit more about your client and their story. What industry do they operate in? Who do they serve? Where are they located? And how big is their organization? Note that your client is the ultimate hero in this story. You want to showcase the client’s wisdom in choosing to leverage your solution to solve their challenges.
Problem Statement: Setup the Situation
Use this section to frame up the challenges facing your client. Be sure to include details or context around any issues complicating the situation. Aim to do this in about 50 to 100 words and be sure to tell the story from your client’s point-of-view. This will help your prospects better relate to the story, especially if they are facing similar challenges in their own businesses. If possible, include a client quote or even a brief video snippet where the client describes the challenges in his or her own words.
Solution Description: Describe the Resolution, with Your Client Leading the Way
This is the meat of your case story and will include the details about how your solution was developed and delivered. Aim to keep this section to about 200 to 300 words.
This is where it’s trickiest to keep your client positioned as the hero since you’ll obviously want to include specific details about the unique aspects of your solution and emphasize the merits of your company’s approach and point-of-view. You can do all those things—and still keep your client front and center. The key is to celebrate the client’s smart choice in selecting you and your services. Again, a quote or video snippet will work well here to highlight your client’s rationale for believing your solution would be the right answer to his company’s problems. You can also talk about any collaboration between you and the client. And, if possible, you can discuss how your services fit into the client’s bigger picture strategy for tackling the issue.
The solution section is also a great place to ensure your case story is visually interesting. Include images, graphics, visuals, or flow charts that help paint the picture of how the solution worked for your client.
Outcomes: Make the Results Pop
Finish your case story on a strong note by emphasizing the results. Include data to quantify the impact—such as how many dollars were saved or new clients won. We like to use bullet points here to give the information in bite-sized fashion and make the numbers and their significance really pop. You can also include another client quote or a video that helps validate your client’s decision to hire you.
Call-to-Action (CTA): Keep the Conversation Going
Finally, do not forget to invite your readers to continue exploring your solutions. For web versions of case studies, include a contact form for the organization. For print versions, include information about your organization along with contact information for your team to make it easy for your prospects to connect with you.
Closing Thoughts: The Proof Really Is in the Pudding
Client success stories are arguably one of the most important tools you have in marketing your services. Showing how other companies have leveraged your expertise and point-of-view to drive tangible results in their own businesses validates your claims and makes it much easier for potential clients to understand how you work. Plus, showcasing your current clients’ genius is good for your existing relationships, too. If you have stories you haven’t shared yet, now’s the time to put them out there. And give your clients’—and yourself—credit for the great work you do.