Creating case studies that sell

Sharon Tanton

Packing your site with valuable content is the best way to showcase your operation – and case studies are the kings of valuable content. By demonstrating how you add value to your clients, case studies really bring your website to life, and are highly likely to be clicked on by prospective buyers.

There’s an art to creating good ones – here are nine tips to help you create case studies that sell.

1. Do your homework. Ask your client for feedback. Set aside proper time to interview the client at a time that suits them.  Set the agenda and have your questions ready. Record the conversation so you have time to listen properly without scribbling like a maniac.  Give the client time to say other things that might not be on your agenda.  Keep asking ‘why?’ It’s a hugely valuable process, and you can learn a lot about what it’s like to work with you.

(If the idea of this makes you uncomfortable, ask someone else to conduct the interview for you. People often find it easier to talk to a third party, so this approach has other advantages too.)

2. Headlines matter.  Case studies are the heavy weight evidence proof of your expertise, but don’t treat them too reverentially.  You want people to read them.  So apply the usual rules of smart business writing and grab attention with a headline – Don’t say ‘Monetizing the Web Operations of AN Company: A Case Study.’ Say ‘Profits doubled in three months – here’s how.’

3. Make the challenge clear. Your case study is your chance to show precisely how you add value, so explain it in lovely plain language.

4. Streamline the process. In the real world, projects can be fairly rambling affairs. The parameters change, people change jobs and roles, life happens. The project had a bit of a hiccup in the third month when Jane from HR went on maternity leave…..But for the purposes of the case study, keep to the brief. Your aim is to show how you moved your client from A to B.  Show your focus.

5. Use direct speech. Include your client’s words. It’s partly a style thing, speech lifts a piece of writing and makes it much lighter to read. More importantly, it adds real credibility.  It’s show not tell.  An advantage of getting someone else to write your case studies is it makes that harvesting of this kind of valuable information much easier.  Tell me again, how great am I?

6. Break it up. As well as using speech, use bullet points to highlight your targets, list your objectives.  Keep the busy web reader in mind and make it really easy for people to read.

7. Results. Make it clear and unambiguous. How has your help raised the bottom line? It’s the most important bit.  Don’t let your case study dribble away at the end. End on a high.

8. Go the extra mile. If you really want to add value with the case study include a short list of learning points from the project for the reader to take away at the end.

9. And finally. Put your case studies up at the front of your website.  Too often companies stack them at the back of their site, like dusty old volumes at the top shelf of a library. Make them grabby and glossy and stick them in the waiting room. Think Grazia*, not the Encylopedia Brittanica.

*insert magazine of your choice here.


Article by business copywriter and Valuable Content co-conspirator Sharon Tanton. More articles from Sharon below:


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2 Comments

  1. Sonja-
    Very nice and very sound advice. I think all your points are correct. It needs to be a story, not a dry listing of activities laced with jargon.
    An additional suggestion is to include pictures, of people or a scene that conveys what the client does, or an “after” of the final product if that is appropriate. This adds more interest and makes it more real. Of course you can step it up further by doing a video case study if your budget allows.
    Thanks for another useful post…lwf

    Reply
  2. Good point Lee thank you. You are right – putting some design love into making it interesting and readable really helps. Video case studies are a great idea.

    This company has some excellent case studies – see http://www.clear-thought.co.uk/in_action – very well written and clear.

    Reply

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