Case Studies: Top Tips for the Art of Storytelling

Nelson MandelaThe world lost a great man last week who inspired not just his country but a whole generation across the world. And since Nelson Mandela’s death last Thursday, the tributes, celebrations of his life and anecdotes that reveal what made him such a remarkable figure have brought his story to a new audience that’s too young to remember the struggle against apartheid. It’s a reminder of just how powerful stories can be. You can talk about a person’s qualities, their spirit, their hard work and deliver a strong message.  But put that message into context with stories that demonstrate those qualities in action and you’ll communicate so much more.

That’s why case studies can play such an important role in the marketing mix. Marketing collateral that explains your company’s proposition and points of difference will help your potential customers understand what you do, but it’s case studies that demonstrate how your products, services, expertise or customer care have benefitted previous customers that will give your prospects a compelling reason to buy from you.

So what makes a good case study? Well, first of all it needs to illustrate why your product/service was of value to your customer, how it demonstrates your expertise and why it makes you different from other companies in your sector.  But it’s a delicate balancing act: you need to explain your company’s USPs but without any hard sell – the emphasis needs to be on the story.  Here’s some tips on how to get the balance right:

  • Explain who the customer is and why they needed your product/service
  • Present the problem that the customer faced and how you provided the solution
  • Use endorsements from the customer to highlight why they chose you and how you provided a solution to their needs
  • Highlight any added value you offered through your expertise or service levels
  • Remember the beginning-middle-end rules of story-telling and complete your case study with details of any future plans your customer has to do business with you again
  • Remember to tailor the contents of your case study for different audiences or marketing tactics