How to use your case studies to illuminate your brand
Your customers think you’re great! They tell you you’re superb value for money, skilled, professional and they’re delighted with your service. Job done, right?! Wrong! You are really missing a trick if you are not using this fantastic customer satisfaction to achieve some valuable PR and really boost your business. Positive customer feedback and case studies are marketing gold – it sends a clear message to your potential customers and they start thinking that if you are good enough for Jo Bloggs Ltd, you might be good enough for them. You could tell them yourselves how great you are, but why should they take your word for it?!
That’s where case studies come in.
Everyone knows that the best way to find a plumber, a builder, a new dentist or baby-sitter is through personal recommendation – and that’s what third party endorsement is; a more subtle recommendation from those who know that you are reliable in business and will deliver a great job. Essentially it’s giving you the thumbs up as a kosher business.
It’s also worth thinking about how to use your great client relationships for PR purposes. You can really reap the rewards by developing some solid case studies to support your media outreach.
So, what are media-friendly case studies? And how do they differ from client testimonials?
Client testimonials are short, snappy quotes from happy customers — usually comprising a few key sentences – praising your work, your skill, customers service, product quality etc.
These statements are often used in marketing media such as websites, sales brochures, within advertising, or in press releases – anywhere that potential business might be watching. In this way they are very effective little ‘references’ that enable you to show quickly that you are hitting the mark as a reliable business and worth working with.
Case studies, on the other hand, are more in-depth stories – of feature or press release length – that enable you to show how you faced a challenge, found a solution and delivered measurable results for a specific customer or customers. They will be packed with good customer quotes that describe ‘from the horse’s mouth’ how you were a solution provider.
Journalists love case studies because they show clear problem solving, they are real, accurate and truthful, not full of puffy self praise and they are evidence of something working well in practice. Plus, all the research work and interviewing has already been done for them, so it makes their job really easy.
Customer involvement in these stories is essential and they need to be on board and co-operative to ensure the end result shows you in the best light. Good candidates for case studies need to be willing to give you the time and participate in the process.
In creating effective and compelling client case studies, it’s essential to ask your customers the right questions that will enable the ‘challenge-solution-results’ PR message to come through strong and clear.
And one-word answers from your customer will not do the job! Think of it more as a conversation kicked off by some key questions.
Our tips on how to write a case study
Here are some of the questions to consider asking:
- How did they hear about your company?
- Why did they choose you to work with rather than another company?
- What business challenge did they have that needed solving?
- How was this challenge affecting their business?
- Have they tried to address this problem in the past? If so, how, and why was it unsuccessful?
- How did you provide the solution for them?
- Who from your company did they work with personally?
- How has the solution affected and benefitted their business in terms of measurable results – bottom line, increased sales, return on investment, etc?
Quote the client throughout the piece to illustrate how the project was undertaken. This reinforces the message, adds that personal recommendation which is so vital, and makes the copy flow much better. It’s also more interesting for journalists, and for the reader.
You can also include quotes from your own staff who were involved in the project. This enables you to introduce people from your own company and provides a warmer personal ‘face’ of who you are. You may be a business, but there are real people at your heart.
Remember to get official customer sign-off from everyone quoted in the piece – and through their official PR channels.
So now you have your case studies, where and how do you put them to good use? Here are some top tips:
- First stop – issue to relevant journalists. They may use them in their entirety, or as background to develop a larger feature. Case studies can also be submitted for specific magazine features on products or issues, so do some research to sniff these out.
- Create a library of case studies on your website so that anyone can read them for a broader view of your capabilities.
- Email them to potential customers as a way to illustrate how you work in practice and achieve results.
- Include them in sales brochures alongside those testimonials we covered before.
- Include them as downloads when exhibiting at a virtual event.
If you need some help and advice in identifying, creating and achieving results from case studies, give us a call. We’ll show you how to write a press release that celebrates your success stories and will shout loud and proud about how great you are – and bring you even greater success!