As we’ve covered in a previous article, understanding marketing on a base level is extremely important for businesses aiming to unlock explosive growth. In a nutshell, you want to maximize the value you provide and expand your reach.

But there’s one thing you also have to consider – every other competitor out there is operating with this same goal in mind. Even the subpar ones - The ones that fail to meet audience expectations, or completely mislead them and shatter their trust. 

As audiences are more and more exposed to advertising, marketing, and competitors in this increasingly digitized world, it becomes harder for you to stand out, establish authority, and build trust.

Which is why we’re going to mention a powerful tool you can use to accomplish all three of these goals in one fell swoop. Case studies are the name of the game.

What is a case study?

A case study is a rundown of a particular instance, or case, when you provided a service or good. These are most effectively used to show how much value you’ve provided in the past and can also provide insights into the sort of decisions you make to help your audience gain a better understanding of what you do. 

Case studies are effectively endorsements, acting as social proof that you’ve 1. Been able to do what you’re promising once before and 2. Are so confident you can continue delivering that you’re going to show exactly how you achieved it. 

Why use case studies?

Because what could be more persuasive than visual proof? 

Think about it from the perspective of your audience inundated with competitors and propped up claims in your industry. When they initially land on your website, unless they’ve already built up a relationship with you beforehand, they don’t necessarily know that you can deliver on your promises any more than the other guys. 

Then they come across your case study.

Just like that, they can see for themselves how you were able to provide value to a previous customer. It proves that someone else was willing to trust you, and that it paid off. It’s clear just how powerful this type of proof can be.

According to the HubSpot State of Marketing Report 2020, 13% of marketers named case studies as one of their primary forms of media used within their content strategy. This makes them popular, but not saturated, which means marketers that adopt them into their strategy can enjoy a considerable edge over their competitors.

How Do I Create a Case Study?

The first step in making a case study is to pick a customer that most accurately reflects your typical consumer. Who are they? And what do they want? 

Once you’ve found a customer, analyze how much value you’d be able to provide them. It doesn’t have to be a drastic amount, but the more effectively you can demonstrate the value you provided through a significant improvement, the better. Take screenshots or get a testimonial of how things are before you begin to render your service.

Consider that making a case study is like telling a story. The audience has to understand how things were before the journey began.

Next, think about the angle you’re going to take for the case study. What sort of tone are you going to have? What are your goals before you begin? Audience research will begin to factor in here – what would your customers best respond to?

As you provide the service or goods, open up notepad or grab a notebook, and make sure to jot down your thought process. What are you thinking, and why? Where has your client messed up, or what have they missed? You’re going to want to include pieces of this in the finished case study, so keep in mind you’re providing value in two parts.

For one, you’re showing future clients where they have been lacking. On the other hand, you’re also giving them insight into your thought process which helps them understand and trust you further.

After the service has been rendered, it’s time to take screenshots, grab pictures, or gather testimonials of the finished results. Visual evidence is great here, as is data. Can you quantify what you’ve achieved? For example, if you’re providing a service to increase website speed, or to increase product sales, screenshots improved statistics would drive home the effect you had. 

Once it’s all together, shift your focus towards making your case study easy and fun to read. This includes breaking up text, making use of headers and images, and overall making it so that it’s natural for your prospective customers’ eyes to travel down the page.

Finish it off with a call-to-action, something along the lines of “it worked for X, and it can work for you” with a “click here” button (While this could work verbatim, make sure to match the tone of the overall case study). The gist is now that you’ve shown them so much of what you do, why not leave them with a CTA to have it done for them as well?

Variations on Case Studies

What we’ve just covered was only one type of case study – but the idea is very versatile. You could do a case study in video form if your audience is most active on YouTube – then, the idea would be more about taking footage before, after, and during the process, and including a voice-over that makes your thought process audible and understandable. Case studies have also been completed in infographics, webinars, and even in the occasional podcast.

The Power of Case Studies in Marketing

Case studies are one of the most effective tools you could use to convince a prospective customer that your business is the right one for them. It combines social proof with insight to win over their trust. While it’s still somewhat under utilized considering how powerful it is, a savvy marketer would quickly set themselves apart by setting up a case study of their service. 

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