When you’re looking to solve a problem, you go to an expert in that field.

Perhaps that’s a doctor for a sprained ankle, or a mechanic for a wonky transmission. Businesses aren’t any different. When they have a problem operating as they should, they seek out help from experts in that problem area.

So how can experts, then, ensure that businesses are finding them in their time of need?

While word of mouth and customer testimonials are beneficial, a case study is truly the best way to set yourself apart from the competition.

What Is a Case Study?

In a business context, a case study is a report of a real-life business scenario where steps were taken to successfully solve a problem.

Case studies are often used by agencies and consulting firms who have used their expertise to solve said problem for the client. They are an example of the agency’s effectiveness in assisting their clientele and are used as part of the sales funnel.

No matter the format (e.g. white paper, press release, video), case studies tend to follow a basic format:

  1. Client background information: Why should the reader care about the client’s story? This piece will humanize the client so the reader can connect on a personal level.
  2. The problem they faced: Did the client face a decrease in revenue? A drop in customer engagement? Share as many details (and data points!) as possible.
  3. The proposed solution: You may have a few recommended solutions. It’s fine to highlight those, even if your client didn’t go with them. Just be sure to explain the client’s reasoning for choosing the solution they did.
  4. The implementation of said solution: How did you/your company help to implement the solution?
  5. The results and findings: What were the direct results of your solution implementation? This is where metrics and KPIs should be shared and explained.

3 Tips for Using Case Studies to Effectively Tell Your Brand Story

1. Always Include Quantitative Data and Highlight It Effectively

A feel-good story is great and all, but nothing sells your brand’s value more than cold, hard data.

Quantitative data is data that can be counted or measured. It’s the data that we use as digital marketers to make decisions. For example, the percentage of revenue growth year over year or the bounce rate on your website.

A case study without data is like a shark without teeth.

That doesn’t mean you want to hound your readers with numbers. That’s because highlighting your data effectively is just as important as having the data at all.

What does this look like?

First, you want to distinguish your data as separate from the rest of your case study. You may choose to bold it, or highlight it, or even include it as a graphic.

Second, you want to include the most important – and compelling – data points.

If you spoke on revenue loss as the pain point for your client, then you’ll want to speak on the revenue growth they’ve seen after working with you. Be sure to make connections between the pain point and the results using data to link the two.

2. Lean Into the Pain(point)

Whatever pain point your previous client had, it’s likely that your readers are facing the same or similar pain point in their own journey. You want to lean into this pain point so the reader can see themselves in the case study.

How do you do that?

  • Ask the right questions. When interviewing the subject of your case study, you want to ask open-ended questions. This gives your client the chance let down their guard and craft their own story.
  • Tell the story from the customer point of view. This humanizes the customer and increases the odds that readers will see themselves in the same situation.
  • Use emotional language. While the analytical parts of your case study should use objective language and data, the storytelling parts should include words that elicit emotion.

While the main focus should always be on the solution you or your company provided, you need to provide your audience with a compelling reason to get to that point in the study.

3. Tailor the Presentation to the Medium

Where you share your case studies can be just as important as how.

When creating your case study, you’ll want to know where it will be distributed. Will you share it as a white paper? Will it live on a webpage on your website? Will you upload it to YouTube?

Once you have decided the mediums, craft the presentation style that makes the most sense.

The basic characteristics of a case study as outlined above should remain the same on all mediums. However, the presentation style may change.

For example, you may opt to reduce the talk of dry numbers in a video case study. Or maybe you’ll use a mixture of words and graphics to separate the storytelling aspect from the datapoints you wish to highlight.

Also remember that different platforms have different audiences. Use this knowledge accordingly.