Case studies are the most important piece of content you have in your arsenal.
They’re your proof. Without them, all of your claims are hot air. They’re also the final nudge that a client needs to see before they sign.
So why are most case studies so boring? Why are they so long? Why do they focus on stuff we don’t need to know (the process) and share so little of the stuff we do (the results)?
Here are five ways you can write a killer case study that will keep your prospects gripped and tell them everything they need to know.
Start with the results
Most people won’t read your case study. They’ll skim read it, if you’re lucky…
Start with the stuff you need them to see: the results. When I say results, I mean hard data.
You’ll see on my homepage that I make a point of hitting visitors with my stats right away. That’s because numbers are unequivocal proof that you can deliver.
Avoid phrases like ‘increased engagement’ or ‘process efficiencies’. These things aren’t fooling anyone. Either you delivered quantifiable value or you didn’t.
By starting with hard data, you prove that you’re the real deal straight away and you make the reader want to find out how you did it.
Here’s the structure that I usually follow for my case studies:
- Headlines – quick description of the problem, the solution and the results (one sentence each max)
- Client – who were you working with?
- The problem – what were they struggling with?
- The solution – how did you fix it?
- The results – what’s your proof?
Then I scatter quotes from the client throughout the document, using imagery and video wherever possible. I don’t work to a set word count. Generally speaking, the shorter the better!
Show, don’t tell
This is storytelling 101. Showing someone something is better than telling them something.
In this case, that means that you should focus on things like stats, testimonials, imagery, videos, graphs, visualisations and awards to show how much value you added.
Cram as much evidence in there as you can!
At the same time, avoid telling people too much about the process. They don’t care how many meetings you had or how late you worked on the pitch, they want to know:
- What were the headlines?
- Who was the client?
- What was their problem?
- What was your solution?
- What were the results?
Keep it snappy
My rule of thumb is that if you can save your reader time, you should. No prospective client is going to mark you down for respecting their time.
Filling out a case study with unnecessary info doesn’t make you seem more credible, it just dilutes the narrative. People that waffle are usually trying to make up for a lack of hard data.
As the saying goes: “The more you say, the less they listen.”
Make it look awesome
Our first assessment of any piece of content is totally superficial: does it look good?
If your case study looks rubbish your reader will assume that it is rubbish (and may assume that your business is rubbish too). Then you’ll have to work twice as hard to prove them wrong.
Making your case studies look awesome is a quick and easy win that has a massive impact on how you and your content is received.
Remember: this is the most important piece of content your business will create. So invest in the execution!
Need some inspiration?
If you’re looking for some inspiration, here’s a great selection of example case studies from a range of B2B brands.
If you want to write a killer case study and you’re not sure how, drop me a line.