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June 21, 2012

If You’ve Got it, Flaunt it… using Case Studies

Do you do good work?  Have some completed successful projects?  Have you helped your clients find insights in new and unique ways?

No doubt, you have.  But are you using those success stories to help build your brand and enhance your credibility?  If not, you should be… through the use of Case Studies.

A Case Study is a fact-based, somewhat ‘clinical’ way to tell a success story.  In fact, it’s a “proof source.”  And it’s because of this approach that Case Studies have a high level of acceptance in our industry.  Do great work… tell the facts of the project… improve the perception of your firm.

And the good news is… putting a Case Study together is pretty easy.  It has a structured format that needs to be followed to keep it from slipping from Case Study to cheesy sales collateral.  Here’s the structure:

A brief description of your client so the reader understand the kind of firm you were working with.
e.g. Our client on this project was a Fortune 1000 manufacturer of casual furniture with its offices located in the Midwest.

A fairly in-depth description of the business or research issue that your client had, what they struggled with and what obstacles they kept running into.
e.g. This client had launched a new line of interior furniture, targeted at urban dwellers, but without much success; the concern was that the TV and radio advertising campaign was off-target.

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So, what did you propose to help them solve their problem?  Was there something unique about it?  Give some details in this section.
e.g. We proposed a nationwide ad-testing study utilizing a bulletin board platform to keep the costs down, to turn the project around more quickly and to ensure no geographic biases. Bulletin boards are asynchronous, text-based platforms where participants log in at times and from locations that are convenient to them, answering questions posted by a moderator while reading and responding to the other participants’ comments. All of the discussion is visible onscreen to the client observers in a “virtual backroom”.

OK, so what happened?  How was the client’s problem solved?  What did they do as a result of it?
e.g. We were able to take what was historically a 6-week project and complete it in 4 weeks, saving the client more than $15,000.  In addition, the new research uncovered a key buying point that was not being covered in the advertising.  The original TV ads were re-edited and within 30 days, the client saw a 27% increase in sales from this product line.

Remember, even though this is a Case Study, it is still a sales piece.  Readers will use the information to help them make a buying decision about your firm.  So, sell it a little… be proud of what you did and flaunt it!  But remember, tell only the truth and never betray the confidentiality of your client.

Case studies are generally well-received because they tell a true story… they’re about projects that actually took place – and that really resonates with people.  So start looking through your files and starting crafting a marketing piece that can give you a strong competitive advantage, a Case Study.

Does your firm have a Case Study that has been effective in telling your story to the marketplace?  If so, post a link to it here to share it with our readers.  Thanks.

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