Why and how should I create a case study?
In a noisy world, social proof is increasingly important for businesses. We don’t want to hear just a monologue from the business itself on why it can provide value for me. We want to hear others talk about the value they got from the business—their experience. It’s why we read reviews before dining out.
Case studies go deeper than reviews and testimonials. They highlight how your company solved a specific problem for a customer and the aftermath. Case studies are a microcosm of product marketing. They highlight a customer’s specific challenge and how they overcame it with a product. And since the product is differentiated, they are shown to be able to solve their unique challenge that they otherwise could not have. Case studies are manifested in a narrative-format and are used as tools of persuasion.
With case studies, you’re able to not just talk about value but demonstrate it authentically with a real customer.
For early-stage companies and organizations with highly-technical products, case studies offer more than social proof. They offer a roadmap for prospects and show how others are deriving value from your product. If your product adds value to multiple stakeholders such as heads of engineering, product management leads, and QA engineers, talking about how a company in India reduced the number of software defects in production by 60% distills multiple value propositions into a tangible value statement.
Creating a Case Study
Start with the interviewee. For B2B companies, the ideal candidate is someone high-level to understand the business value but technical enough to know the specific context and quantifiable impact.
Questions to Ask
- What is your company known for? What’s your role?
- What did [process] look like at your company before? What were the biggest pain points you experienced?
- What was the point at which you decided to look for a solution?
- What was the first moment where you realized that [our product] was a unique solution to your problem?
- What does [process] look like at your company now?
- What other [software/tools] do you use as part of your [process] workflow?
- Can you share any quantifiable metrics that you use to measure the impact of [our product]?
- What has your team been doing with the [time/capital/operating expenses] saved?
- What’s one thing you’d want someone who is considering using [our product] to know?
Writing the Story
For a B2B company, the following table provides a template for creating a case study.
- Context on the customer: Bullet points on their industry, their position within their domain (Fortune 100), and the use case under discussion
- 1-2 sentence summary of how your customers use your product and the results they’ve seen
- A customer quote from the interview that supports the essence of the case study
- Metrics: 3 quantifiable bullet points on results
- The problem and context, setting the technical context and business challenge
- A quote describing the breaking point when they started looking for a new solution
- Your differentiated solution—how your product uniquely solves the problem
- The way your product fits into the larger workflow of the team and its implementation
- A quote on the immediate impact on the team—productivity and process improvement
- High-level impact of your product, including time saved, money saved, the opportunity opened—calling out other projects the team can now work on
- A quote describing the long-term impact on the team and business
Why to create a case study?
- A case study is the social proof that highlights how your customer successfully used your product and the tangible evidence of the value your product can provide by describing how product's key features led to benefits for your customer.
- Case studies are assets that you can use at any stage of the funnel: consideration, purchase and retention.
How to create a case study?
1. Decide the format of your case study
- Written case study
- Video with the customer
- Review on a third-party website
- Interview with customers over a podcast
- Customer presentations at live events
2. Find the right candidate to engage for your case study
To create a strong case study interview clients who have seen the best results.
- Ask internal teams like sales or customer success to source happy customers
- Look at customers who provided a 5-star rating on third-party platforms like G2, TrustRadius, Capterra, etc..
3. Prepare a list of questions to ask
Prepare a list of questions to ask your customer so you can get inforamtion on their story and extract extra insights to make a strong case study. (In previous answers you can find some great questions to ask your client)
4. Tell a compelling story
Create a story that includes the key components below:
- Executive summary: provide a quick overview of the customer you served including a 2-3 sentence summary of the entire case and 2-3 bullet points of key metrics to demonstrate success
- Challenge: describe the challenges and pain points your customer was experiencing prior using your product
- Solution: describe how your product solves these challenges and why the customer specifically chose your product
- Results: highlight accomplishments and quantified impact to prove how your product helped the customer achieve his goals
- Quotes / visuals: In each component include a powerful quote to support the story you're telling