5 Reasons You Need to Embrace Case-Studies to Promote Your Business

This post was first published here.

Providing value without an in-your-face sales message builds trust and helps establish your business as an authority in your field. It can persuade people to trust you. It can turn maybes into yes pleases. There is a tool which, when done well, can achieve all these things. And it works. It really works.

One of the most subtle, under-used yet most powerful forms of content marketing is the humble case-study. Case-studies lead your audience through a success story experienced by one of your customers thanks to the use of your product or service. When put together professionally, case-studies are an incredibly powerful and cost-effective method of communicating your services to potential clients. Here are five positives that case-studies can bring to your offerings.

Credibility

Case-studies lend a huge amount of credibility to your products or services through social proof. Coined by the granddaddy of persuasion, Robert Cialdini, Wikipedia describes social proof as:

‘…a psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behaviour in a given situation.’

In other words, seeing that someone else has benefitted from your services builds credibility in the minds of prospective clients.

Think about it. Imagine chatting with colleagues at work about your search for, say, a new car.

You tell them you’ve narrowed the choice down to two models but you’re just not sure which is the best pick. Mention of the first model gets no response.

When you mention the second, your colleague begins to tell you what a great experience they have had with that particular model. From the quality of the interior to the level of service at the dealership, they are h-a-p-p-y with that car! What just happened?

The second model is now uppermost in your mind. A real live person has provided positive information. The advantages of the second model are now tangible, and you will feel greater inclination and confidence in picking that model.

That’s social proof. Validation from another person that something you may be considering is worthwhile. This is where a case study excels. It informs and provides social proof.

Value for Money

Easy to overlook, but essential for your bottom line, is value for money. Case-studies are one of the most cost effective investments you can add to your marketing portfolio. Why? Because they are so long-lasting! A case-study will last for as long as you offer the product or service which it promotes.

Your goods and services are there to solve peoples problems. A case-study describes how Joe Bloggs had a problem which he solved using your product. As long as your product can solve that particular problem, your case-study remains fresh.

While the initial cost of a case-study may be more than, say, a blog post or a landing page, you will find that in the long-run they are well worth the initial investment. Plus, that initial investment gets you a lot more value than a simple blog post or landing page.

A blog post seeks to attract interest and visitors through informative, entertaining content. A landing page is designed to drive sales of a particular product. Both are valuable aspects of promoting your business. Regular blog posts attract return visitors and keep your website fresh. Landing pages are a vital sales tool. But both have a very specific role and place, unlike the mighty case-study. And that brings us to the next reason to embrace case-studies.

Versatility

The sheer versatility of case-studies ties in to the value for money aspect, but deserves its own mention. Unlike many other forms of content marketing, case-studies have a multitude of uses.

You can post them on your website to inform browsers of the real world benefits of using your product or service. This gives customers looking for a particular product an overview of how your product solved a real life problem for a real life person.

You may have identified multiple problems that your products or services have overcome. Links to multiple case-studies, each covering a different scenario, is a powerful resource to win prospective customers interest and trust.

Case-studies do not just belong on websites. They can be used in email campaigns, or responding to online enquiries. They can even be printed off and used the old fashioned way! Flyers, brochures, in trade magazines……the sky’s the limit. If it can be used to put a page of information in front of people, it can be used for a case-study!

A Complete Message

We covered the power of social proof earlier. Now, social proof covers any endorsement which originates from outside your business. Testimonials and customer reviews are a huge source of social proof in the online world. Case-studies differ in their use of social proof in a subtle way, which super-charges their effectiveness.

Here’s how.

You don’t get any input into customer reviews. You may get the chance to post a response, but you won’t be involved in the review itself. Likewise, testimonials will generally be provided upon request, but they are usually put together solely by the customer. Many reviews and testimonials comprise little more than ‘great job, would highly recommend’. It’s positive, but hardly inspiring.

A professional case-study is authored to create a fuller, more complete picture. The testimony is genuine, but it comes from a professional interview with the customer. In this way the customer is given the opportunity to express the real benefits of their experience rather than simply ‘it was great, would highly recommend’.

Everybody Loves a Story

Finally, case-studies tap into our insatiable thirst for stories. Nothing beats a story for engagement and, importantly, memorability. It is easier to remember information when it is presented as a story as opposed to, say, a bullet pointed list. At school, we learned the colours of the rainbow using the story-based mnemonic of Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain. Communicating via storytelling is so powerful that studies have found that communication using storytelling can actually result in brain synchronisation! You can read that study here (note it is not told as a story!).

Stories forge connections. Connections between people. Connections between ideas. Connections between experiences. Case studies draw on this powerful form of communication by crafting a story of a protagonist (our heroic business owner) who encounters a problem. The details and consequence of this problem are laid out. A possible solution is found and applied to the problem. The results of the solution are mapped out, leaving us in no doubt that our hero has a happy ending.

To recap, case-studies are versatile and cost effective. They add credibility to your offerings, and they allow you to ensure your audience receives the right message using the power of storytelling.

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David Webber

David Webber

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Copywriter, photographer, husband, father, soon to be dog owner.