Me Thinks That Case Study Writing is not What Ye Thinks it Is
As B2B marketers we want case studies to be something they’re not. We write case studies as if there’s a horde of prospects hanging on our very words, waiting for a gem of an idea or an inspiration that’s going to solve their problem.
That is, we hope that our case studies offer a “lesson” in how to solve a problem or fix something that’s broken.
I’ve got some bad news for you if that’s what you believe your case studies achieve. They don’t, and here’s why…
Why do people read case studies?
Why would a prospect read anything on your website? The answer has to do with the person’s expectations upon arriving at a particular page. For example:
- They read your home page when they want to see if what you’re peddling will solve their problem; or, if they’ve heard about you and want to check you out, either out of curiosity or because they’re investigating solutions to a problem.
- They’ll read your articles or blog post because the headline caught their eyes and spoke to a “top of mind” need or problem.
- Bios and “About” pages are read when they want to get a sense of who you are, and whether or not they can trust you with their problem or need.
- If they trust you and feel that you might be able to help, they’ll look at your products and services pages.
- They’ll examine your FAQ page only if they can’t make sense of who you are or what you do. (FAQ pages shouldn’t be necessary in most cases).
- Finally, they’ll look at your Case Studies to solidify their trust (or mistrust) in you.
In other words, prospects don’t read case studies to glean information about solving a problem.…
People read your case studies to learn about you.
Facing the Truth About Case Studies
Case study writing follows variations of a simple formula:
- Define the problem in terms of the client’s situation…
- Describe (usually in bullet form) the specific issues or needs being addressed…
- Provide “the solution” (that is, your solution)…
- Explain why the client chose your solution over others (usually in bulleted form)…
- Provide the “results” (always positive)…
- Add a few quotes from the client saying how satisfied they are with their decision.
Mostly, this formula gets the job done, but only if the prospect is already convinced that your solution is what they need. They’ve already made their decision, and will use the case studies to justify the decision they’ve already made. (Or, if you do a poor job, they’ll be convinced otherwise).
What SHOULD a Case Study Do, Then?
You’ll have to read tomorrow’s article to learn the “How,” but here’s a summary until then…
Case Studies serve one major purpose. They nudge a prospect over the line from ambivalence about you to fully trusting you. It’s the difference between them thinking, “I like these guys” to “YES! This is going to work for me!”
Strong case studies do just that – they solidify the prospect’s trust in you to satisfy their need or solve their problem. The primary purpose of your case studies isn’t to offer advice or suggestions on solving a problem. It’s not the time for you to introduce new terminology. Your case studies are the icing on the cake that enables the website visitor to leave with a good taste in his or her mouth.