How To Write A Case Study

An epic guide on how to create amazing B2B case studies - from what to include in your case study through to how to repurpose your customer story.

Are you telling amazing customer stories?

After all, humans learn through storytelling – in fact, marketing and selling is all about telling good stories: stories that show how a product will help you to supercharge your business, stories about how you can help customers overcome their biggest commercial challenges, and stories about how you will help your clients to achieve phenomenal results.

And stories are so important – in fact, nearly 80% of people say they want brands to tell stories in their marketing. Plus, storytelling can make marketing messages up to 22 times more memorable than just presenting facts. That’s a huge opportunity for any marketer!

But many of us aren’t telling good customer stories. And the best way to tell customer stories is with case studies – it’s a chance to tell your prospects and wider industry about how you helped a customer to achieve success by working with you or purchasing your product. (PS if you’re looking for a done-for-you, ready-to-edit case study template, then check out our pack.)

So let’s look at how you can write amazing case studies for your B2B brand.

Buckle up. Settle in. Let’s go.

What is a Case Study?

A Case Study is a chance to tell your product’s story – the story it always wanted to tell, the story it knew was in there, but didn’t know how to put pen to paper and release it to the world.

Ok, in all seriousness – it IS your product’s story – it’s the story of how your product is helping organizations to achieve success – how it delivers success, who helped them to achieve that success, what results that success delivered, and so on.

It takes prospects on a journey from where the customer started in their business, through to where they ended up as a result of purchasing your product or service.

What is a Case Study?

Why do you need a Case Study?

Why Do You Need a Case Study

Let’s look at a few reasons why good case studies are really, really important for your business’ marketing and sales efforts:

  • Case studies reassure potential customers – by showing prospects how other organizations have achieved success by working with you. It reassures potential customers to know that other clients, especially well-recognised brands, have trusted you and achieved good business results.
  • They help to show customers a solution to their problem – by demonstrating how another customer, in a similar situation, overcame a particular challenge.
  • Case studies show you’ve been there, done that, and wrote the case study to prove it – in other words, it’s a written record that you have actually delivered this product or service successfully.
  • Case studies can help you win against the competition – by showing why a customer chose you instead of the competition, and what the results were.
  • They provide an opportunity to talk about your product – without just droning on and on about product features. Perhaps your invoicing software is the most user-friendly in the market – well, show that by referencing that fact in a case study.
  • One good customer story can create lots of additional content – if you turn that case study into a video, a presentation, a blog post, some PR, and lots of social media posts.

What are the different Case Study formats?

Different Case Study Formats

Case studies can be created in a range of different formats, here are a number of different options. Choose what suits your brand, story and customer. For example, if you have a really vivacious customer contact who is great in front of a camera, then get them on a video talking about how you helped them.

Case study format options:

  • Long-form written document
  • Short-form written document
  • Short testimonial paragraph or quote
  • Video
  • Podcast
  • Infographic
  • Presentation
  • Press release
  • Article or blog post
  • Graphics
  • Webinar interview

How do you get a customer to agree to being a Case Study?

Getting a Customer to Agree

Something we get asked quite a bit, is how do I actually get a customer to be a case study for our business?

Many people are worried about what they actually do to move from supplying a service or product to a customer, to them becoming a bonafide case study.

So, first things first, make sure your potential case study customer ticks both of these boxes:

  1. The customer is happy with your service or product (this sounds super obvious, but very often people ask customers who aren’t that happy with their product but they want to use that customer’s brand. Fix the issues, make them happy, and then think about doing a case study at a later date).
  2. The story is compelling – don’t just say ‘we did this, then here it is’ etc., make sure you’re choosing a customer with an angle. Were they experiencing an issue that you know lots of other organizations are facing? Or perhaps they work in an interesting industry and you know that prospects will be interested to hear about them.

If you haven’t got any case studies already, then it’s good to start with a friendly customer who you have a good relationship with. Many customers are happy to be case studies if they like the company, and if you sell why they should become a case study (see the Process section below).

Always remember to show your appreciation to customers – they don’t have to be a case study, it’s a favor to you, so make sure they know that you appreciate the extra time and effort they’ll need to put in to the process.

When you approach a customer to first ask them, think carefully about how you’re going to position the case study idea to them. You could talk about how you want to share their story with other organizations who are facing challenges and want to show them a solution, or about how you’re keen to tell others about the amazing results your customer has achieved through your solution.

A case study is a marketing opportunity for both you and your customer if handled correctly – so focus on all the ways in which you can make the process as fruitful for your customer as possible.

The Case Study Process

Case Study Process

So, once you’ve decided on a customer, here is a step by step process to follow:

  • Email or phone your customer to ask about whether they’d be interested in being a case study.
  • Position the reasons why being a case study would be advantageous to them: brand awareness, PR opportunity, marketing, showcasing how they’re solving business issues etc.
  • Explain the case study process – and think of ways to make it as simple as possible and to take up the least amount of your customer’s time possible.
  • If you need to, consider what you can give your customer in return; discount on future purchases, freebies, extra support.
  • Get sign off from the customer that their organization approves of them being a case study for you.
  • Prepare your questions for your customer.
  • Set up a time to interview the customer.
  • Write up the case study content.
  • Send the case study to your customer to get sign off.
  • Make any customer-requested edits.
  • Get final sign off from the customer, and have them formally sign that they’ve reviewed your content and agree on what assets such as company logo etc. that you can use. (PS. Our Case Study Template pack includes the Case Study Request Email and Case Study Sign Off Email templates to use with your customers).
  • Design up your customer story document if you haven’t already done so.
  • Publish your case study on your website and promote it online, via PR channels and media etc.
  • Repurpose the case study into different formats.

What should you include in your Case Study?

What Should You Include in a Case Study

There are a few key elements to a good case study, here’s an overview of each area you need to have in your next case study:

Explain who your customer is and why we’re going to want to hear about them.

Tell your case study readers who the customer is and why they’re so darn interesting that you decided to feature them. Are they world-class in what they do? Do they serve amazing customers? Do they build phenomenal products?

Well tell us about it!

Explain who your customer is and why we’re going to want to hear about them.

Tell your case study readers who the customer is and why they’re so darn interesting that you decided to feature them. Are they world-class in what they do? Do they serve amazing customers? Do they build phenomenal products?

Provide a foundation for the case study to build upon.

Start at the beginning – what did life look like before you came into it and swept your customer off their feet?

Imagine you’re in one of those corny films where they cut to the past and everything is monotone and sad, then TA DA! The future comes along and everything is bright, colorful and sparkly because you’re now here.

Talk about what your customer was struggling with before you came and solved all their problems.

Show readers why they decided on you.

Give some insight into the customer’s thought process in the run up to choosing you as a supplier/vendor/partner.

Why did they choose you? Why didn’t they choose the competition? What was special about you?

Talk a little about the product or service you delivered.

The key is in the ‘little’. Don’t go on and on about your product – but reference it where relevant. Pepper your case study with little nuggets of detail about your product.

Here’s an example:

ABC and Co. needed to choose an invoicing software supplier who could deliver around-the-clock support to their global office locations. Invoicing Software and Co. offer 24/7 support to all customers and we have technicians working in every timezone so that ABC and Co. were never stuck with a problem. Our ability to provide real-time support made us the perfect choice.

Show the results your customer achieved.

This is the critical part of your case study. At the heart of it all, prospective customers are wanting to know what other customers achieved by working with you – what did it lead to, what business results, what increase in sales, what decrease in problems, and the rest.

Think about what wider business impact your product or service had on your customer’s organization – not just the direct impact of the product (i.e. invoicing software can help speed up invoice processing – but that also helps with making the company more productive as a whole).

Case Study Writing Tips

What Should You Include in a Case Study

We thought it might be useful to put a few tips together about how to write super case studies, that capture your prospects’ attention and drive more sales.

Here they are:

  1. Remember it is a story. By that, we don’t mean make it up. We mean make it flow like a story. There’s a beginning, a middle, and an end. A challenge to overcome, and a knight in shining armour who needs to step in and save the castle. Make it compelling.
  2. Focus on your customer, not your product or company. Read it back and think about how much you’re talking about you versus your customer, and rebalance the case study. Try and aim for 70% focused on your customer, and 30% focused on you.
  3. Think about why anyone else outside of your organization should care about this case study. Does it help anyone solve a similar challenge? Is it interesting to anyone that isn’t you?
  4. Make your customer look good – otherwise they won’t agree to signing it off. In an ideal situation, you want a customer as proud of a case study as you are, so that they go out and promote it themselves.
  5. Write it like an article – think about a compelling article which tells a business’ story. Now try to recreate that essence in your case study.

How to repurpose your Case Study content

Repurpose Your Case Study

Once you’ve written your case study, don’t just design it up into a fancy-looking PDF and leave it languishing on your website, think about how you can repurpose it.

It’s much easier to repurpose existing content than it is to go out and get hundreds of other case studies, so make sure you’re getting the most out of every case study you have.

Here are a few ideas to get you going:

A visual guide or infographic

Repurpose the written case study into a one-page visual resource showing the journey your customer has been on, and use charts and graphics to represent any numerical values or statistics that you’ve uncovered in your case study interview.

A video interview

Why not record your interview with the customer so you can release it as a video further down the line (with their consent of course).

Mini videos

Find interesting segments of your case study and turn them into mini animated videos that focus on different areas or perspectives. For example, you could do a video highlighting one particular challenge your solution solved for a customer, whereas your written case study might look at 3 or 4 challenges in detail.

Quote graphics

Take a few good quotes from your customer and create graphics highlighting the quote. You can use these graphics to share on social media to promote your case study, and across your site to get people interested in reading the full case study.

Record a podcast episode with your customer

Invite your customer back to record a podcast episode, diving into more detail about their business and perspectives, getting recommendations from them about how other organizations can potentially overcome similar challenges.

Report or whitepaper

You could collate a number of insights from a few different case studies and compile them into a report or whitepaper. Of course, with all of these repurpose ideas, you need to agree with the customer exactly how you’ll be using and sharing their case study.

Now… Create your own Case Study!

We’ve put together a comprehensive pack that covers everything you need to create a professional, dynamic and credible case study.

The pack includes:

  • 30 x Microsoft Word Case Study Templates – simple to edit and easy to fill in
  • Long-form and short-form template versions to choose from (15 long-form templates and 15 short-form templates)
  • Templates available in 6 different color options
  • A 30-page guide on how to write and create your business case study, complete with example text to help you fill in your case study
  • Case Study Request Email Template – text for you to copy and paste to send to your customers to request a case study
  • Case Study Release Form – ready to be sent to your customers to get approval for creating and sharing your case study
  • Case Study Questions File – all the questions you need to ask to create a compelling business case study

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