In my experience as a content marketer, writing dozens of case studies, I can tell you that case studies have a way of drawing in readers and driving conversion unlike few other pieces of content. They consistently rank as the most-read elements in content marketing programs. And I know why because a case study can act as a mirror. It reflects what a customer can experience when they use your product or engage in your service. That’s right: a case study helps reveal the possibilities. And that is a powerful tool.
Even if you have just one, use it to your advantage
A well-written case study can be the most convincing piece in your content marketing arsenal. So plan on having at least one. A savvy case study creates a relevant and meaningful story for your audience — you know — those personas you’ve built around your ideal customers. Don’t use personas? Give it a go: they can help bring focus to your content marketing.
But for case studies to be truly compelling, they need to be authentic. After all, a case study is about real-life storytelling, And that level of authenticity may be the most valuable tool you have in your content marketing. No hyped up advertising, no over-the-top promotion or discount can deliver readership and results like a well-crafted case study.
“Storytelling is about two things; it’s about character and plot.”
— George Lucas
The Star Wars franchise-creator makes it sound amazingly simple. Put a great character into an amazing plot. We all know there’s much more to making epic movies, but working off this basic understanding certainly helps. It’s amazing how many films books and other stories fall short.
And it’s good to know that case studies also have a surprisingly simple framework. I find by following a simple storytelling arc; case studies get presented in a meaningful way. It’s all about touching on the key elements that bring a case study to life.
The four critical elements you must use
For case study storytelling success, stick to what works. And I suggest you use these…
1) Situation – this is the background. Here, we set the tone by establishing what’s happening in an industry or niche.
2) Conflict – now the challenge is faced. Get ready for the pain. Someone once mentioned to me that people are more often seeking pain-killers long before vitamins. The conflict explores that business conflict.
3) Resolve – here’s how we overcome the challenge. Here’s the heroic moment where the problems get fixed. It’s that vital turning point in the plot.
4) Results – be sure got to have tangible results that prove a payoff. While this can be a hurdle when researching your case study, it’s so valuable. People like specific numbers and percentages — especially when they are highly relevant to them. So get those results, they may be the only thing some readers look at!
Without these four elements, you simply don’t have a case study. You can’t take people through the journey without each of these mile markers. In short, you can’t tell a meaningful story without them. So follow along the clear route to create winning case studies.
Watch a 9-minute tutorial on how I create case studies by clicking on this image.
Now do more with case studies– Recycle, Reuse & Repurpose
The power of a well-structured case study carries through into all sorts of formats. Sure you think of a case study as that 1-3 page PDF document that gets downloaded from your website or shared by your sales staff. But don’t stop there. Convert case studies into other productive content formats. Here are some suggested ways to do that …
Transfer a case study into an article or blog post to share socially
Create a press release from a case study. Publications love simple to understand stories that share success.
Make a video – either with simple screen grabs and voice-over. Or try Animoto (an excellent and intuitive video production tool) or create a fully produced video. Case studies make an ideal script outline.
So turn it into a SlideShare, Slide Rocket or presentation. Again, the story is defined and mapped out. So just add some images, and you have another format for sharing your success.
As you can see, case studies can be hugely successful elements for your content marketing efforts. And that’s something to think about, Because content marketing has been shown to cost 62% less than traditional advertising, case studies are simply a savvy marketing investment.
What’s more, per dollar spent, content marketing generates three times as many leads.* So what are you waiting for? Get your case studies going now and make it an ongoing part of your content marketing regimen from now on. It pays off. And with a solid, proven format like I just presented, you can be seeing results soon.