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How to construct a perfect case study

When we’re working on lead generation and appointment setting campaigns, we’re constantly talking with marketing decision makers who have particular requirements when looking for a new marketing agency. Our expertise lies in uncovering their requirements, building rapport, and getting our clients in front of them to discuss a project or campaign. However, in order to do this, we are nearly always asked to send relevant case studies showing previous examples of work. These not only reinforce the messages our sales people discuss, but also gives the prospect a chance to see something visual to connect our conversation.

Having good case studies that are relevant to the prospects industry or service they are looking for, is a vital part of the appointment setting process. Marketing managers sift through 100’s of case studies each year and some clearly stand out and impress, but sadly, many fall way below the mark and are simply discarded after just a quick skim through. A page or 2 of text with a couple of images won’t cut it and you’ll run the risk of losing the prospects interest before you’ve even met them. In turn, this makes your sales people’s job even harder when they follow up.

Some of these tips may seem obvious, but if you’re a new business or if you are starting a new lead generation and appointment setting campaign – you may find these guidelines very useful. If the following blueprint is followed, your case study stands every chance of resonating with your reader and will pave the way for a meeting.

Firstly, your case study needs to engage the reader and tell your story. Help them understand your process and thinking with well-crafted copy (which isn’t like reading war and peace).

It’s also worth bearing in mind that most of the time, the person reading the case study will be looking at for a reason, i.e. they are not happy with their existing agency. This is an opportunity to showcase your skills and highlight the valuable processes and people that make your business successful.

A common mistake with case studies is that too many assume the reader knows the background or expertise. The best case studies flow like a story so that anyone reading it can fully understand what the project brief is, the thinking, the process and the solution. Think about stopping a total stranger in the street, handing them an iPad and asking them to read your case study. Would they walk away knowing exactly what you did and how you did it?

Keeping the copy light is key to keeping them engaged, too much information and your reader could just switch off or skim read which not the desired outcome. Start with a brief explanation about who your client is – a sentence or 2 about who they are and what they do is ample to set the scene for your reader.

Next you need to describe what the brief is to put the story into context. You might want to include detail about why your agency was chosen? Were you part of a pitch process? What did the client like about you over others? Was it your expertise in their sector? Was it the knowledge you have across your team that you leveraged? Was it your skill set? Was it your previous work you have done that impressed? These are the facts the reader wants to know and more importantly, it further cements your credibility.

Moving on to cover how you delivered the work/project or campaign and your solution. Remember the prospect cares about your thinking, your insight, and your approach. Try and focus on the reasons you approached the project the way you did and illustrate the thinking that led to the output. Try to demonstrate particular expertise within your team or resources you might have at your disposal. Skillsets that enable you stand out from other agencies could give you the winning edge over the competition.

Finally, the project results are a key element to any quality case study and add real weight to the story. The reader wants to know how the brief was answered, but more so, what results or R.O.I. were delivered. Be clear on showing results that are specifically address the brief making sure there is synergy between the two showing clear, measurable figures.

In conclusion, a customer testimonial rounds off the story perfectly and is incredibly powerful. It’s not just you telling the reader how good you are, it’s your client. Testimonials add even more credibility to any case study and substantiates your results.

It goes without saying that using images or photography will only enhance the reader’s experience, but only if they are relevant, they are not a necessity. There is no point in shoe-horning in a stock image if it has no relevance to the work. If you want to use images you could think about using some graphs or diagrams that illustrate your results.

It’s always worth having a variety of case studies for your sales people to use. These should demonstrate the different services you provide and your experience across various markets. Sending a case study detailing an ad campaign you put together for an I.T. company when you’re trying to sell your SEO services to an ecommerce retailer will clearly not have as much impact as a well-tailored case study with a similar company. Making sure these are relevant to the markets you’re approaching increases the chance of your sales collateral resonating with the reader and have your sales people thanking you!

In summary, here of the 5 elements that make a perfect case study.

Who is the client

Project Brief

Insight & The Solution

The campaign results Including ROI

Customer testimonial

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