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Tag Archives: case studies

Be the expert

front cover of romance novel

‘Show not tell’ is the advice given to writers, and it holds true for business.

In a novel I don’t want to be told that the hero is gorgeous.  Let me see how women react to him.  Let me hear what he says. Make me fall in love with him too.
And the same goes for business marketing.  Don’t tell me your customer service is great, show me how your services help people like me.  Be specific. Details matter.
Demonstrating your expertise is a good way of showing, not telling, that you’re top of your game.
Canadian Business guru Blair Enns, founder of Win Without Pitching http://www.winwithoutpitching.com/founder advocates demonstrating knowledge an inch wide and a mile deep.  Really knowing your stuff puts you in a much more powerful marketing position than knowing a little about a lot.
Case studies, published either on your website, or as part of a broader marketing campaign, are a great way of showing how your business operates and adds value.
Clearly demonstrating how your business solved a client’s problem – resulting in increased turnover, happier staff, a new contract – is the best kind of marketing.  Show how your services boost the bottom line figures, and you’ve demonstrated your expertise.
Experts have opinions, so share yours.  Write the paper, talk at the conference, blog about what’s new, keep your website up to date. Be seen and heard.
And the best bit about this kind of marketing? It’s not expensive. You don’t need glossy adverts, you just need to able to write.  Or know someone who does.

Creating case studies that sell

Case Studies

Packing your site with valuable content is the best way to showcase your operation – and case studies are the kings of valuable content. Demonstrating how you add value, case studies bring your website to life, and will always be clicked on by prospective buyers.

There’s an art to creating good ones – here are my tips for case studies that sell.

Do your homework.
Set aside proper time to interview the client at a time that suits them. Set the agenda. Have your questions ready. Record the conversation so you have time to listen properly without scribbling like a maniac. Give the client time to say other things that might not be on your agenda. Keep asking ‘why?’ It’s a hugely valuable process, and you can learn a lot about what it’s like to work with you.

(If the idea of this makes you uncomfortable, ask someone else to conduct the interview for you. People often find it easier to talk to a third party, so this approach has other advantages too.)
Headlines matter.
Case studies are the heavy weight evidence proof of your expertise, but don’t treat them too reverentially. You want people to read them. So apply the usual rules of smart business writing and grab attention with a headline – Don’t say ‘Monetizing the Web Operations of AN Company: A Case Study.’ Say ‘Profits doubled in three months – here’s how.’

Make the challenge clear.
Your case study is your chance to show precisely how you add value, so explain it in lovely plain language.

Streamline the process.
In the real world, projects can be fairly rambling affairs. The parameters change, people change jobs and roles, life happens. The project had a bit of a hiccup in the third month when Jane from HR went on maternity leave…..But for the purposes of the case study, keep to the brief. Your aim is to show how you moved your client from A to B. Show your focus.

Use direct speech.
Use your client’s words. It’s partly a style thing, speech lifts a piece of writing and makes it much lighter to read. More importantly, it adds real credibility. It’s show not tell. An advantage of getting someone else to write your case studies is it makes that harvesting of this kind of valuable information much easier. Tell me again, how great am I?

Break it up.
As well as using speech, use bullet points to highlight your targets, list your objectives. Keep the busy web reader in mind and make it really easy for people to read.

Results.
Make it clear and unambiguous. How your help raised the bottom line. It’s the most important bit. Don’t let your case study dribble away at the end. End on a high.

And finally.
Put your case studies up at the front of your website. Too often companies stack them at the back of their site, like dusty old volumes at the top shelf of a library. Make them grabby and glossy and stick them in the waiting room. Think Grazia*, not the Encylopedia Brittanica.

*insert magazine of your choice here.