Craft Standout Case Studies in Five Steps

standout case study

It’s easy to take the deceptively simple case study format for granted. The key components are clear cut: a problem, a solution and the results. But when you’re able to bring these elements to life with a vivid story that brings your solution to life for the reader, you dramatically increase the likelihood of converting a warm lead into a hot prospect.

These mid- to late-stage assets also serve as a vehicle to feature some of your most recognizable customers, a convenient way to show your prospects that you’ve earned the trust of brands they may already admire.

Case studies play a valuable role in your content library. With 54% of B2B buyers engaging with case studies in their buying process, according to the 2020 Content Preferences Study from Demand Gen Report, it’s worth a closer look to make sure you’re making yours stand out. Follow these five steps.

1. Frame Your Story

Standout case studies are concise, so you can’t waste words on tangents that don’t support your key points. Know the product or service you’re focusing on. Showcase common problems you can solve and demonstrate how your solution can save the day—with the proof points to back your claims.

A standout case study pulls the reader in with specific details that help them identify with the story. Learn what you need to know about the client’s industry and pain points, their relationship history with your organization. Compare the client’s story to your marketing personas so that you have your target audience top of mind as you make decisions about what will capture their imagination.

2. Interview Your Client

Even if you know the client’s story, you’ll want to speak with them directly to hear it from their point of view. Take careful note of the words they use, the product or service features and benefits they emphasize and anything they were particularly concerned about before they signed on the dotted line.

Tell your interview subject in advance about the questions you plan to ask. That will give them the opportunity to think about their answers and gather the numbers and stats that make a case study so powerful: how much money you saved them, percentages of improvements you achieved or any other metrics that support the value of the results you achieved.

Recording the conversation is incredibly helpful if they’re comfortable with it. Recording allows you to engage with them, secure that you can replay the conversation for details and interesting quotes.

Keep your own notes handy during the interview so that you can make sure you get their perspective on every aspect of the story that you plan to cover. In most cases, you’ll want to discuss the problem they came to you to solve, how your product or service helped to address the problem and the results they achieved thanks to your solution.

Probe for the details that add color to the story, and listen for colorful language and descriptions of how they felt. Were there any surprises or unexpected benefits along the way? How will solving this problem impact what they do next?

3. Chat With Your Own Team

In many cases, your own team members will have valuable contributions to make. Customer service and sales representatives can share not just details of this client’s story, but how they speak to the same prospects you’re trying to reach with the case study. What questions do these prospects typically ask, and how do they answer those questions? What pain points do they care the most about?

4. Make Your Case

Include all the proof points you can to call attention to every impressive result you achieved. Powerful stats will jump off the page and support the story you’re telling. Dollar amounts and percentages are always valuable, but qualitative results can be just as persuasive, particularly if it’s too early to tout the statistical results.

5. Find Your Format

Standalone case studies are great, but there are other options to consider instead of—or in addition to—a standard pdf. Video case studies take more legwork, but they’re often worth the hassle because of their ability to make emotional connections with viewers.

At Content4Demand, we love to help clients compile their best case studies into case study portfolios where prospects can read a variety of stories or easily skip to the scenario that resonates most with them based on problem/solution, industry or job role.

With interactive case studies, you can pepper a clean, uber-concise story with rabbit holes that give the reader the opportunity to dig into additional details they care about without having to navigate intimidating blocks of copy. Include a variety of “read more” options where they can explore the areas of the story that matter most to them.

standout case study portfolio
Veracode Case Study Portfolio

Despite their apparent simplicity, standout case studies go beyond the simple facts. Turn yours into compelling stories that spark prospects’ imaginations about how your solution might become their heroes.

Be sure to read Tonya Vinas’ recent post,  3 Quick Strategies for Repurposing Case Studies, to find new ways to get additional mileage from your case studies.

Holly Celeste Fisk is an accomplished marketing pro with 20+ years of experience in B2B and B2C. She’s responsible for Content4Demand’s internal marketing efforts, managing everything from content creation and email marketing to events and sponsorships, blog publishing, website management and social media presence. When she’s not working, you’ll find her sliding into third at softball, buried in a book or practicing her Italian. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.


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