Case studies are extremely powerful for use in a practical business sense.
I am not talking about some hypothetical, classroom application. When marketing teams build strong case studies and sales and marketing teams use them appropriately while engaging prospects, business will prosper. But we will get back to that.
What are the actual bones of a successful case study?
Ultimately, creating a great case study is about telling a great story.
Below, I layout 4 key elements that will help you to structure your story to deliver a great case study.
How to Structure a Case Study in 5 Parts
1. Your Case Study Title/One-liner
You want to create and highlight one line that sums up why this example is important. John Barrows calls this the “Holy Shit 1-Liner”. It should focus on the most important result achieved, which you will provide more detail on later.
You want to recognize that many people will look at your case study for all of 3-5 seconds to decide if it is relevant. This line needs to jump off the page in both formatting and the message itself.
Ex: “Tech company Increases renewals 22% by adopting intelligent billing software”
2. Case Study Overview
Set the scene for your case study. In this section you want to give some background on the client, their industry, the type of customers they serve, their size, revenue – any relevant identifying information.
This is also a good opportunity to lay the groundwork for the problem. For example, a good closing sentence could be:
“Company X kept noticing they were missing out on opportunities for sales to connect with prospects.”
SuccessKit best practices: keep this section short, and make it easy to digest. Use “bullet points” or our “tags” to easily display attributes about the client.
3. Writing The Problem Section of Your Case Study
In the problem section, you want to explain the core of your clients issue that led them to your solution.
To tell a compelling case study story, it really helps if you lay out the cause & effect of your customers situation.
At the end of the overview, we set up the problem. So for this example, in the problem section we would go into more detail:
“Company X was not living up to their expectations in sales revenue (60% dip YOY) and they identified a key issue was their inability to connect with a portion of prospects. Perfectly qualified prospects were walking away from their product offering.”
The more you can use specific statistics, direct quotes, and relevant images, the more your problem will resonate.
4. The Solution Section of Your Case Study
This is the shameless self promotion phase.
Point-by-point, you will breakdown how your company resolved each and every one of your customer’s problems.
Supporting evidence is essential at this point: a direct quote about exactly how you made their pain go away goes a long way toward a successful case study.
“‘SuccessKit solved an age old problem on the sales floor – making sure each sales rep puts their best foot forward each and every time they engage an opportunity,” said John Doe, VP of Sales at Company X. Once we integrated our product, Company X saw an immediate 20% boost on close rates. In under 6 months, Company X had a library of over 100 Success Stories built up for their sales team to recall”
By using specific numbers and details, you are not only making this a better and more interesting story, but it also becomes more compelling as a sales tool.
Prospects who read your case study will put themselves in the shoes of your customer and see themselves having a similar win.
5. Showing Your Results
The results section is where you want to summarize some of your value propositions – it is good to apply it to the specific case, but you can be more generalized here.
Don’t feel bad about using bullet points: this is a section that most people will look at first to get an idea of what the heck you are really offering.
SuccessKit best practices: Aim for facts and figures whenever possible. Highlight this section as much as you can. Use bullet points to list specific outcomes.
How to Actually Use a Case Study
The biggest problem many marketers have is getting the sales team to actually use their case studies.
These assets need to be shown to sales, and made readily available. Best practice are to use a content management system, or tool like SuccessKit to deliver to these assets to sales when they are most relevant.
You’ve put together your masterpiece, but now what? It is astonishing how many companies have a “case study” section on their website and they just hope that interested prospects will visit that section and find some use.
Or maybe you do one better and send them the link to your case study section.
If this sounds like you, then you are like most companies. You are missing a huge opportunity to connect prospects with case studies and marketing material that is specifically relevant to their issues.
At SuccessKit that is our mission – connecting those dots between marketing content and sales empowerment.