In my experience of creating dozens of case studies, I can tell you that case studies have a way of drawing in readers and creating action like few other pieces of content. They consistently rank as the most-read elements in content marketing programs I work on. And I know why. Because a case study can act as a mirror. It can reflect what a customer can see happening to themselves when they use your product or service. That’s right, a case study helps reveal the possibilities a specific customer can see in themselves with your business. 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. When a case study is done well, it 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 really be effective, they need to be authentic. After all a case study is really about real life storytelling, And that level of authenticity may be the most valuable tool you have for your content marketing. No hyped up advertising, no over-the-top promotion or discount can deliver readership and results like a well-tuned case study.
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 a 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, and it actually works. I find by following this simple storytelling arc, case studies get presented in a meaningful and highly effective way. It’s all about touching on the key elements that bring a case study to life.
The four critcal elements you must use
For true case study storytelling success, I stick to what works. And I advice you use these same elements…
- Situation – the background or back story. This sets the tone and also qualifies the reader by getting into some of the specifics of the industry or niche.
- Conflict – the challenge faced. Here’s where the pain is revealed. Someone once mentioned that people are more often seeking pain-killers, not vitamins. The conflict explores that business conflict.
- Resolve – how to overcome the challenge. Here’s the heroic moment where the problems get fixed. It’s that vital turning point in the plot.
- Results – got to have tangable results that prove a pay off. While this can be a hurdle when researching your case study, it’s so valuable. People are drawn to 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 an essemblence of elements like this, you simply don’t have a case study. You can’t take people through the journey without each of these vital mile markers. In short, you can’t tell a meaningful story without them. So follow along the clear route to always create winning 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 off your website or shared by your sales staff. But don’t stop there. Case Studies can be easily transferred into other productive content formats. In a previous post on re-purposing content, I refer to a content matrix, where you can see and manage your content marketing. By working with the content matrix you can determine the best places to re-purpose you case studies. And here are some suggested ways to do just that …
- Massage it into an article or blog post to share socially or distribute as an article via article sharing platforms.
- Create a press release from it. Publications love simple to understand stories with a strong success element.
- Make a short video – either with simple screen grabs and voice-over, Animoto ( a really cool and easy to use video production tool) or a fully produced video. A good case study makes an ideal script outline.
- Turn it into a SlideShare, Slide Rocket or presentation. Again, the story is clearly defined and mapped out. So just add some images and you have another format for sharing your success.
So as you can see, case studies have been shown to be successful elements for your content marketing efforts. And that’s something to think about, Because content marketing has been show 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.
Posted on 03/25/2016 by