Using case studies as a tactic in your company marketing plan is a great way to show how you help people in the real world. Demonstrating your expertise in a case study can provide social proof of a job well done, strengthen customer relationships, and close sales.
Today, more than 30% of marketers use case studies as an effective marketing tool, and with good reason. It’s no secret that 90% of consumers search for local businesses on the internet. Most of them read peer reviews and other content to help make purchasing decisions. A case study gives them authentic, real-life information about how you solved a business challenge for your client and helped make their business better. Pretty powerful stuff.
But how do you use case studies if your clients can’t give you permission to make them public? Due to the type of business they’re in, they may have concerns about confidentiality. Legal reasons, strict disclosure regulations, privacy provisions, or something else can stop them from allowing you to write about the details of their success story, publish their name or their customer’s name, use their branding elements such as a company logo, and more.
Luckily, each story for a case study is different. So it is possible to create one that fulfills your client’s need for confidentiality and still nails the play-by-play of you winning their business and delivering killer results.
5 Steps to Case Studies That Convert
- Talk to your client about permission. Once you identify a great success story for a case study, ask your client if they’d like to participate in an interview to get the details. Find out their level of permission up front:
- Discuss things like using their name, their client’s name, company branding, locations, the nature of the problem/solution, and so on. Your client may be willing to participate in an interview, but you’ll need to leave their name out of the case study.
- Find out if they have any limitations on where the case study can be published or shared. Your client may give permission to publish it on your website, but won’t want you to share it on social media platforms.
- Work with your client on what can be done. Always share a draft of the finished case study so they can give their recommendations, approval, and sign off.
- Vary your target audience. Depending on your client’s levels of permission and participation, try changing up the audience you’re trying to reach. For instance:
- If you’re not allowed to include specific names and information that could build credibility with your audience, target your case study for audience members who already know and trust you.
- Prospects who are farther along in their buyer’s journey may be more interested in learning more about the solution than statistical data or name-dropping.
- An existing audience could be more receptive to blind case studies with new products or services, which could be a great up-sell/cross-sell opportunity for you.
- Use mirror language. If you can’t use specific data to wow your case study readers, make sure you tell the story using language that your desired audience uses. Your case study will be more likely to resonate with them more authentically, regardless of the specifics. This gives you a chance to elevate the case study challenge, your unique solution, and how it impacted the outcome.
- Avoid filler and fluff. Understandably, you may want to compensate for a lack of specifics with a general description. But a great case study is a great story first, one that doesn’t need unnecessary details. Focus on the business problem and how you solved it - and leave the generic stuff out.
- Abide by restrictions. Avoid suggesting the data and details you’re required to hold back. Make sure you leave it all out of the storytelling so your audience doesn’t feel compelled to play a guessing game. It’s a distraction that could get you into trouble, even if you aren’t revealing any of the real information. In the end, it won’t help get the point across that your company’s success story is real.