Building the Case for Case Studies

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Think back to your school days. Chances are there was a topic or idea that was difficult to grasp until it was given context to make it easier to understand. Applying an idea to a familiar situation can help turn an abstract concept into a more concrete one.

The business world equivalent is the case study, which allows a company to explain product applications and benefits to current and prospective customers using an applicable real world setting.

So, what makes a good case study subject? Here are a few customer attributes that will help you identify valuable case study opportunities, no matter the product or target market:

  • Permission for the case study to be shared publicly – this seems obvious, but it’s best to establish how the case study will be used and get buy-in from the customer prior to starting the development process.
  • An established, good working relationship with your company – the best case studies are natural extensions of a quality relationship; if the case study feels forced, it’s probably best to look for another candidate.
  • An identifiable issue that your company helped them to solve – if you have a hard time explaining the problem, solution and result of the situation, the reader will have a hard time seeing it as well.
  • Data to support the story – the strongest case studies can be supported by data, whether it’s increased throughput or ROI, reduced maintenance costs or another statistic that will resonate with your target audience.
  • A customer spokesperson willing to be quoted in the material – this one may not be required, but when comments come straight from the customer, they increase the credibility of the case study.
  • Photos or video footage (or allowing you to acquire these assets) – giving visual context to the story through photos, diagrams or video supports the narrative and strengthens the case study.

Once you’ve found a potential case study, determine the right format for the case study. Some work best as narratives, some as photos with captions and some as videos — and this decision will determine how you move forward.

Case studies can be powerful sales tools when they resonate with the right person. Keep these attributes in mind as you’re interacting with your customers, and the potential quality case studies will surface.

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