Customer case studies: Sold! By your client in their words...

Well-researched and written client case studies are an effective way to get your clients to sell you in their own words. Once created, they’re easy to use across many print and online platforms with minimal reworking. Now that’s cost-effective…

Case studies are traditionally short and sweet – and rather clinical. They work by showing how you solved a client problem – to engage potential customers who face a similar challenge. And at the end, you quote your client, saying what a jolly good supplier you are.

The traditional way...

You’ve probably seen the following format:

  • Introduction
  • Challenge
  • Solution
  • Benefits
  • Quote

That’s all good and well, and there’s still a place for such case studies – even though they can appear to be just another sales tool. They’re a great start, but you can take case studies a stage further, make them less obviously a sales tool and get customers’ words working even harder for you. Here’s how…

Another way to do case studies

You start by choosing a good customer with a positive story about your organisation. Then you ask them to participate – and tell them that they can use the finished case study too.

The interview

Next, you interview your client (or get an independent third party to do so, for a more candid response). What do you ask? Here are some ideas for starters:

  • What’s the project background?
  • Why did they choose you?
  • How did the project go?
  • Were there any teething troubles (this is good; it adds credibility and lets your client show how you overcame them)?
  • What are you like to work with?
  • What makes you different?
  • Would they use you again?
  • Would they recommend you?

Write it up

Next, write the case study as a feature piece with a strong story thread – more like a 500–1000-word business magazine article than sales copy. And tell lots of the story (two-thirds or more) as quoted speech by your client – that way they ‘show’ what you did for them. It’s more credible than merely telling prospects how good you are as you might do in a brochure or website page.

Once you’ve written a first draft, get your client’s approval. Expect a bit of tweaking and don’t worry if they change the odd sentence into something quite informal or even clumsy. It’s coming from their heart and adds vital credibility.

Layout

With copy approved, you lay out the document as a simple PDF with a picture and logos – and a subtle resource box containing everyone’s contact details. Alternatively, ask your designer to give it a full graphic treatment.  Either way, you’ll have a powerful communications tool for use in your next brochure, on your website, as an email attachment, or as a handout.

Advantages &  Benefits

  • The advantages and benefits of the new-style client case study include the following:
  • Cost-effective (write once, use many times across different platforms).
  • ‘Feature style’ writing is perceived as more objective and credible than out-and-out sales copy.
  • Case studies have a distinct personality and complement your other collateral.
  • Your customer is selling you throughout the piece – not just in a predictable summary quote..
  • The case study process can build your relationship with the client.
  • You (or your third-party interviewer) could pick up useful intelligence during interviewing.
  • By writing different case studies for clients in different sectors you can engage different prospective clients.

Secrets of effective client case study writing?

From experience, here are a few secrets of effective client case study writing:

  • Objectivity (at interview stage and by writing in third-person behind the interviewee’s quoted speech.
  • A great story balanced by a successfully-overcome problem to add credibility.
  • Asking the right questions to draw out the best answers (an experienced third-party interviewer can help).
  • Play down the sales approach. The case study should look like an informative PR piece rather than a sales document. Keep your branding low-key and avoid sales puff.

Over to you

So, what are you waiting for? When will you create your first new-style client case study and get your customers selling you in print? Sold! By your client in their words...

You can download a PDF of this article here (145 KB)

But if you don't have the time, the specialist case study writing skills or the inclination to write your own customer case studies? Just call 01242 520 573 or email me


 

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