Today’s web-savvy consumer is in control of their buying cycle and is less receptive to interruptive marketing like direct mail, broadcast and print ads. When they have a question or a problem, they go online to search for the answers themselves. They surf websites, read blogs and download informative content.
A case study can be one of the most effective types of content marketing for professional services businesses, like financial service providers, employment recruiters, and, well, marketing agencies, to set themselves apart and nurture prospective customers through their buying cycle as part of an inbound marketing strategy. A well-presented case study is also an effective document to use for follow-up by the sales team. For an example, have a look at the case study of our inbound marketing success with Employee Fiduciary.
The reason why a case study is such an effective document is that professional services businesses do not provide a tangible commodity. Instead, the “product” you have to sell is your experience and expertise. Since customers cannot physically hold and view your service, they must rely on more subjective measures of quality when choosing between competing service providers. Few customers would hire a service provider without some confidence that the business is indeed good at what they say. Nobody wants to be the first on the dance floor, and a case study shows that your professional service company has advanced skills that have proven extraordinary results for other customers before, and therefore warrants consideration.
Outline of a Case Study
A case study is a simple document that describes the success that your service business has achieved for your customer. It can be an article on the company blog, a downloadable offer, or even an in-person presentation. Use this simple template as an outline to create a basic case study.
1) Who is this case study for?
Provide some history and context by describing the customer and their industry. Are they a startup, or has your customer been in business for decades? Is it a corporation, or a family business? A brief explanation about the customer can make the case study relatable to other similar prospects.
2) What’s the problem?
Describe the issue or problem that prompted the customer to hire your company in the first place. Did they have trouble working with other providers in the past? Were they unsuccessful handling the workload in-house? It’s likely that other prospects are having similar problems.
3) How did you fix it?
Describe the actions you took to address your customer’s problem. What solutions did you prescribe? What recommendations did you have?
4) What was the result?
Describe the outcome of your efforts. What results did your service achieve for your customer? What impact did your recommendations have on their business? If possible, cite actual data showing positive results. After all, it’s hard to refute numbers.
Finishing Your Case Study
Use this simple, 4-part outline as a framework to structure your case study. Then illustrate it with compelling data or photos of your happy customer. When complete, your case study will show prospects that are considering a service professional that you’ve achieved exceptional results for others, and can do the same for them.