When deciding what kind of a marketing and promotion approach to take, many businesses quickly realize that they have to engage professional writers, among others. But what content, should those writers produce? Website content, blogs, white papers, case studies? Other? All of those? And after all, what does each of these terms involve/ In the case, what is a case study and why should business prepare them?
So, let us start at the top. What would be a general definition of a case study? According to the University of Southern California (USC), “in the social sciences, the term case study refers to both a method of analysis and a specific research design for examining a problem, both of which can be used to generalize findings across populations. “
Further on, USC says that “a case study research paper examines a person, place, event, phenomenon, or another type of subject of analysis to extrapolate key themes and results that help predict future trends, illuminate previously hidden issues that can be applied to practice, and/or provide a means for understanding an important research problem with greater clarity.”
When specifically applied to business, “a business case study is a story about one of your clients and how you solved a problem for them. It allows your prospects to see how your solutions address their needs (More Business).
The business specialists continue saying that the purpose of a business case study is to make your prospects feel more comfortable with working with you. The fact that you solved a related issue for a customer very much like them will provide comfort and offer ideas.
What does a really good business case study involve?
One of the questions businesses ask themselves when preparing their overall marketing strategy is which way to go. For example, should they work on a white paper or a case study, or both? To make a qualified decision, you have to be aware of each of these involved.
On one hand, “a white paper helps a reader understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision by offering technical information, images and diagrams. It’s a lengthy piece of content at approximately 2,000 words or 6 pages.” BunnyStudio has on its blog pages several detailed analyses of white papers, including how to write one.
On the other hand, a case study teaches by example. It features detailed testimonials on how a certain product or a service became useful for a customer. It details a real-world situation. Lengthwise, it is much shorter than a white paper, very often between 800 to 1000 words.
Essentially, case studies should create awareness about a certain problem. At the same time, it should show the reader a solution that works in a real-life situation for one of your customers.
While they are not as lengthy as white papers, case studies require detailed work. It takes a bit of time to prepare detailed research, find adequate customers and get their approval for the use of data. Essentially, case studies can be quite time-consuming. But, at the same time, case studies can be used for a longer period of time than white papers. Sometimes, their effectiveness can last up to 2 years.
The purpose of a business case study
Due to the above reasons, quite a few analysts see the market for case studies exploding. This is because a case study reinforces a company’s reputation. If done right, it shows the company as exactly the one that can solve a customer’s problem or problems. As a marketing tool, a case study can convince potential clients or customers that a certain product or service is exactly what will suit them too.
As More Business (above) notes, “the purpose of a business case study is to make your prospects feel more comfortable with working with you. The fact that you solved a related issue for a customer very much like them will provide comfort and offer ideas.”
At the same time, a case study serves as a customer testimonial from an existing client. It provides “ a solid stamp of endorsement about your capabilities. Your business case studies can also include benefits such as return on investment, cost savings, or other metrics that prospects want to see.”
Why do satisfied customer stories work? As some professionals content writers explain, people love to read stories about other people and their experiences. “If you can tell them how you’ve helped them solve a problem, they can relate to it – because they’ve got the same problems.”
Case studies do include facts and data. But, at the same time, they focus on people and in that sense are less formal. This certainly makes them more interesting to read for a wider audience. If they show the real benefits of a certain solution, they create instant credibility for a business. All this can be done even without direct sales talk or self-promotion.
What questions do you have to pose and answer?
A good case study writer (a ghostwriter) should follow the writing structure professional journalists do. They have to cover the essential five “Ws” of journalism – who, what, when, where, and why. Case studies are essentially like stories and they need the focus and attention of prospective readers.
Every reader of any particular business case study should relate to the experience of the person/company in the case study:
- Who – the case company same or similar to the one the chose;
- Why – the reason “the case company were looking for a product (why) and what they were after (another why);”
- When – when did a pertinent question or a problem come up;
- What – the products that initially came under consideration;
- Another what – what product or service did they eventually chose;
- Why (again) – the reasons behind their decision.
Essentially, the case study writers should have a set of questions on which they should structure their writing.
More Business (above) structures these questions as follows:
- Can you describe the problem that prompted you to seek our services?
- What were the areas where you were facing some problems, such as inefficient processes, inaccurate results, expensive or slow solutions?
- Did you already have a department or company that was not able to find a solution to your dilemma?
- How did you go about searching for a solution?
- Did you have a specific solution in mind when you were looking for help?
- Why did you choose us over our competitors?
- What benefits have you received from using our company?
- How have our services save you time and money?
What should the structure of a good case study look like?
Put in brief the structure of a good cases study should include these four elements:
- A case study should explain the outcome first.
- It should describe the situation before the project was started. What was the main problem, or set of issues? What were the subjects of the case study facing before your product or service was introduced?
- The prospective case study should outline the impact your product or service had. Here, you need to present demonstrable proof that the implementation improved the previous situation. Without this, it’s hard for the reader to judge how effective the solution really is. Using stats, figures, and numbers will bring the case study to life.
- A case study should close with the benefit your product/service had on the customer and their business. This is also where you can discuss their plans, especially if it ties in with your implementation.
This approach can also be explained in another manner:
- Describe the subject of the case study – Explain your customer’s or client’s history and pain points.
- What are the subject’s goals – You need to identify your customer’s or client’s goal for the project so readers understand what to expect.
- The basic premise of the strategy – The author should tell the prospective audience what you expected to happen after you implemented your strategy for the customer or client.
- The results of the strategy – You should present to the reader the step-by-step strategy to help your customer or client.
- Conclusions – The author should explain what this case study has taught you specifically and how it can help other people.
The numbers tell the story
Let us get back to what is a case study in business and why use it. As Insights For Professionals aptly summarise, people like to read case studies because they’re interesting and they tell a personal story. A case study is about your customer and their problem, not about your business and so they should not look or read like a piece of marketing content. People reading your case studies should be able to identify with your customer’s situation and trust that they are being spoken to honestly. This will in turn build trust in your business as your prospects feel they’re being given helpful solutions that may work for them.
The reasoning behind this is in the numbers. When making a purchasing decision, 88% of consumers now trust product reviews as much as advice from friends and family.
Many businesses tend to equate case studies with testimonials. The problem with testimonials is that as nice as it is for you to have someone sing your praises, it’s not going to mean a huge amount to your potential clients. Testimonials are usually pretty generic statements that testify to how great you are and how awesome your services are. But. they aren’t specific which means they’re not that good at swaying your prospect into choosing your business over your competitor’s.
That is where case studies and the approach they take come into play. But, to have an effective study, you essentially need a professional writer. Such a professional is a freelancer you would engage for a single project or recurring projects in most cases.
To that effect, Bunny Studio can certainly help you with their carefully selected group of professional writers. At the same time, to take a look at what a specific case study looks like, we provide two examples on our blog pages.