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Forget Case Studies: Create Better Customer Stories With This Guide

"In working with ACME Limited, Solutions'R'Us made a decision to build upon their investment in SuperSol Online and leverage SuperSol Planner and SuperSol PowerData. Planner had already caught their eye as a potential line-of-business integration tool and given the large number of integrations already offered, it made sense for them to leverage Planner for workflow purposes."

Customer case studies should be engaging and memorable, like a Quentin Tarantino film... But most aren't. Most are impersonal, dry, overly formal and full of assertions...just like the example above (this is an actual excerpt from a case study, company names and product names changed.) I suspect a lot of time, effort and money are spent producing customer case studies that are rarely consumed. Ouch!

Why is this? Who knows...But it feels a lot like status-quo bias - the preference to keep doing things the way they've always been done.

Social Proof is Critical for Startups.

Capturing the essence of why and how their first customers were successful is a hot topic with many of the startup clients we've been working with. Social proof - the term currently favoured by marketers - is like gold for early-stage startups and should be a key asset in winning new logos.

Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, says that “people tend to believe they are making the right choice when others who are similar to them have made that same choice.”

He goes on to explain how social proof is even more powerful in situations which are precarious and unpredictable. Which almost perfectly sums up what's presented to a potential buyer considering a relatively new and untested service or product from an early-stage startup.

It's About People. Not Companies.

Contained in Dr Cialdini's statement is the secret to creating better case studies: People believe they are making the right choice when people similar have also made that choice.

For sure, social proof in the form of customer case studies or testimonials delivers a quick hit of trust to potential clients. As long as the way that proof is conveyed is by telling a person about the story of another real person who could be just like them.

It's the personal storytelling which makes it engaging and memorable. And trustworthy.

5 Steps to Creating Better Case Studies

Here's our basic guide to level-up your case studies. If you find it useful and want more detail, including an example case-study which follows the guide, plus a template to help you write your own, just leave a comment.

1. Make it personal: Before you put pen to paper (or face to video), remember this: Every time you go to use an organization's name, stop and think how you can make the same point by using a real person instead. E.g. "MXGrowth's sales grew by 20%." = Yuk. "First time Sales Manager, Sam, was able to inspire her team to overachieve by 20%." = YES!

2. Start at the beginning: The beginning of the person's story who is most affected in this case study, that is. If it's Sam, then explain where Sam's from. How she got to be where she is. How the thing that you helped her with (usually a problem) came about. And, finally, how she was feeling leading up to that thing.

3. Talk about the "hows": How did Sam and you fix the problem? How has it made a difference to Sam and her business? And, most importantly, how did it make Sam feel?

4. End with personal impact: Most people will retain the last thing they read more so than everything before it, so make this good! Bring it back to personal empowerment and impact. What is Sam doing now and into the future to help others which wasn't possible before?

5. Pick your intention and objective: Frame everything above with these two things. Intention: How you want your audience to feel. Objective: What you want your audience to do. Review your case study and adjust its tone (e.g. formal or casual etc) and call to actions to match as required.

Free Example Case Study and Template.

If this is pressing some of your buttons, reach out to us using the chat icon to the right or below to request a free example case study and template to help you create your own awesome case studies.

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