Tapping into the Power of the Customer Case Study

@Wendy | Conversion Optimization, Strategy

Given that case studies are considered the most powerful weapon in a salesperson’s arsenal, you’d think that marketing would invest heavily in crafting an engaging story for the buyer, who is consumed with the bottom line of the why, how, and who, as well as the metrics that support the solution. But most case studies are text heavy, lack visuals and branding, and are written to entice a reader to consume the information.


For sales people, case studies are more impactful if they can be delivered to the right buyer at the right time. If case studies can provide validation, they build trust and credibility with the buyer and the proof that you can help them.

It all comes down to combining the creativity of marketing and the metrics of sales to craft an interesting story about a customer problem – the pain they experienced, how they identified the problem, how they solved it and the benefits they achieved as a result. But how do you tell a story and lay it out in a way that allows the prospect to easily consume and buy in?

Essential Components of a Compelling Customer Story

  • Identify the Buyer as the Audience: The case study should be written with the buyer in mind — as if you’re writing to them.  The most compelling stories are about someone who the reader can relate to, respect, and/or aspires to be. Be clear and have a thorough understanding about the challenges they face.
  • Describe the Buyer’s Pain: Identify and describe the pain that the buyer is experiencing in detail as it relates to how your product/service can solve it.  Demonstrating that you not only understand their pain is the first step to establishing trust.
  • Explain in Detail How the Problem was Solved. Problems can be solved but not always easily. Be clear about the elements of the solution and dependencies — it takes people, process, and technology and it’s not a good story if there wasn’t ‘pain’ for the ‘gain’.
  • Deliver Impact with ROI:  Now that your prospect has bought into your story, deliver the ‘punchline’ in the way of numeric value if you can. There’s also betterment in the form of a reduction in complexity, scalability, production time, etc. that can be highlighted as appropriate.

Visual Layout of a Case Study

Consuming content online is about scanning, not reading, so it’s essential to develop a visual layout of the content that allows the eye to scan and follow the story with clear headlines, imagery, branding and calls to action.

SECTION I – THE CHALLENGE
Background Context / Client Facts (Company Name, Location, Industry, Annual Revenue, etc.)

SUBHEAD DESCRIPTION
What did the client/customer/subject want (the challenge)? Why does the challenge matter (the stakes)?

SECTION II – THE SOLUTION
What exactly did your organization, product or service do to meet the demands of the client’s challenge?

Paint a clear picture in the reader’s mind of what you did and how you did it. These actions may include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • Any steps to analyze, assess and interpret the client’s situation
  • Reports or recommendations produced as the result of an analysis/study/investigation
  • An outline of resulting action plans
  • Products purchased (or leased) to address challenges, resolve problem or achieve an objective
  • Services deployed to address challenges, resolve problem or achieve an objective
  • Features of product or service that were especially helpful in accomplishing objectives
  • Rollout plan and/or time table for execution/installation/implementation
  • Applicable service agreements or support plans
  • Arrangements for monitoring/measuring progress or effectiveness
  • Follow-up actions to make changes, adjustments or improvements

SECTION II – THE RESULT

What did the customer get as a result of using your product or service? A good Result section should demonstrate fulfillment of the desire described in the Challenge — and as concretely as possible. If you can, get a direct quote that puts the results in the client’s own words. Describe the payoff in as few words as possible.

SUBHEAD TITLE – THE SOLUTION

Additions & Feedback

If you have additional links, sources or ideas that you think would be helpful, please comment below.

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