Creating valuable content is an important aspect of your marketing. This often means blogging frequently about topics your audience cares about, writing in-depth ebooks that offer valuable insight, and designing infographics that are informative, interesting, and easily digested.
But what about the case study? In the world of inbound, a case study can be an uncomfortable piece of content to write. It feels a little too "salesy" and "me focused" in comparison to the day-to-day writing a content marketer often does. But case studies are a powerful tool, not just for your sales team, but also for your lead generation and lead nurturing.
It's simply a matter of effectively writing case studies that avoid focusing to heavily on your business, and instead tells a powerful story of trust and results.
Step 1: Choose Your Audience
The most important aspect of any piece of content you write is selecting the appropriate audience. Your audience shapes not only the topic, but also the overall design, writing style, and focus of the case study.
You could easily write two or three case studies over the same exact client scenario, but each time focus on a totally different audience with completely different case studies as a result.
So, before you do anything, choose your audience with care and use your knowledge of this reader to make decisions about how the copy is written, the design elements you use, and all other aspects of your case study.
Step 2: Decide on a Focused Topic
This can be especially difficult when you provide multiple products or services to one client. You want to be sure that your case study doesn't lose focus or become jumbled with the multitude of ways you can and have helped clients in the past.
Narrow down your focus as much as possible. Remember, you can write multiple case studies focused on different angles of a client relationship. But if you try to write about them all not only will you become overwhelmed, but so will your readers. So keep it simple and focused for each specific case study.
Step 3: Gather Your Data
Without the proper data, your case study will be weak and unfocused. Be sure to gather your data and take the time to analyze it. Ask yourself what story does it tell? Armed with the proper data, writing case studies becomes a million times simpler, allowing you to provide a clear, cohesive story backed by supporting data.
Step 4: Create Your Outline
There are certain sections you should at least consider including in your case study. Each industry and company is different, so determine for yourself if all these sections are necessary for your situation. Here's a few you might want to include:
- Summary - Provide a brief overview of the case study at the beginning to give your readers an idea of what to expect.
- Challenges - Outline the main challenges your client or customer was struggling with before your product or service came along.
- Solution - Explain how your specific product or service was expected to help solve the challenge.
- Benefits - Describe a few specific benefits of using this particular solution.
- Expanded Background - Tell a brief story about what was happening with your client or customer before your company stepped in.
- Expanded Solution - Detail how you came to suggest the solution you did, what it was supposed to accomplish, and the specific steps you took.
- Overall Results - This section should include detailed information and visualized data that highlight the results you achieved. This is your chance to brag about the strong results you were able to achieve. Just remember to rely on the data to tell your story to avoid being too "me" centered.
Once you've decided which sections you need, create a working outline around what portions you think are necessary.
Step 5: Write Copy
Using your outline, flesh out each section with compelling copy. Keep in mind when it comes to writing case studies, less is often more. The results are what matter the most, so be sure to write copy that highlights and supports the end results.
Step 6: Design Visual Layout
Once you have the copy written, you can now work on the visual layout of your case study. One of our favorite tricks for the content pieces we create is to use a branded slideshow template. Once you add the copy into the template and arrange images and visualized data in a cohesive way, you can simple download the presentation as a PDF.
Not only do we use this trick for case studies, but also ebooks, whitepapers, and other content offers.
Step 7: Edit
Before you finalize your case study, be sure to take the time to review and edit your piece. You may want to ask someone else to look over it as having a fresh set of eyes can sometimes make a huge difference.
While your case study may be completed, don't forget to create a powerful call-to-action to read or download your case study and a landing page for your piece to live on. Once your offer is ready to go, promote it by sending it to a relevant email list, posting the landing page to social media, or writing blogs that drive traffic that would be interested in reading your case study.
Writing powerful case studies requires strong storytelling skills and a focused perspective. Use these steps and you'll be well on your way to generating new leads and moving current ones further along the buyer's journey.