Stop writing case studies the old way! You know, the ones where you just show some before-and-after data, toss in a couple of quotes from your customers saying how great you are, and call it a day.
Case studies like those can work. But they don’t get the “OMG this is exactly what we need. Let’s hire this person/company immediately” reaction that we are going for.
Don’t settle for okay.
Today we’re learning a 7-step formula to make the best case studies your prospects have ever seen — case studies that connect to the reader, overcome objections, show what makes your product/service the best, and close the sale.
Why Most Case Studies Fail to Close Sales
Most boring case studies are boring because they’re missing three core elements:
First, there’s no context for the results.
Without context, those quotes and stats don’t mean much. Your reader looks at them and thinks, “That’s great for this other company. But will this work for us?”
That’s why it’s critical to dig deeper. Show the specific problems and barriers your clients have faced and how you helped them. Prove to your reader that what they are going through isn’t that unique — and that you’ve helped people just like them.
I’ll show you how to do this in a moment.
Second, normal case studies lack emotion.
Remember, you’re selling to a person. Even if you’re B2B, there is a human on the other end of that case study. You can’t just rely on data. You’ve also got to connect with their emotions.
Selling with data alone is like trying to box with one arm tied behind your back. You want that one-two punch of data and emotion.
And what’s the best way to hit your customer’s emotions?
Tell a story. Ideally, one that shows someone just like them having the success they want.
Let them see and feel the pain they are in now, and then show them how life can look once they buy from you.
Finally, traditional case studies don’t answer the all-important question: “Why should I buy from you?”
Sure, you get results. But my guess is your competition does, too. If there is nothing unique about your process or method, then your prospects are more likely to walk across the street to your competitors.
You want great case studies that don’t just show results but show how those results are only available through you.
Okay, so how do you combine all of that into a case study?
You follow the proven 7-step formula I’ve used with clients for years.
It’s modeled after the hero’s journey you see in books and movies like Star Wars. But I’ve blended it with direct-response marketing techniques to help you close sales.
Let’s dive in.
The 7-Step Formula for High-Converting Case Studies
Step 1: Connect with the reader
You want your prospect to immediately identify with the person/company in the case study.
You want them to think, “This person is just like me,” or “This company is like ours.”
To get that reaction, you need two things:
First, connect over external factors. Let them see that on the outside, this person/company is just like them/their company.
For example, let’s say your company helps businesses with onboarding. And your prospect works at a 500 person company that’s been around for six years and is struggling to retain salespeople. You’ll want to share a case study that’s as close to that situation as possible.
That’s one reason I recommend creating a whole stable of case studies. This way, no matter who comes to you, you’ll have a story of how you helped a person or company just like them.
Second, you want to connect to their emotions. Identify their key problems and connect to the pain, fears, and desires of the people involved.
Saying, “This company struggled with their onboarding” is fine. But what if instead, you said:
“The staff was getting restless. The high turnover rate meant employees were at their desks working 10+hours a day. And they weren’t happy about it.
The executives worried more and more people would quit. If that happened, the company could soon go under. The remaining employees who had given so much and had families to feed would have to be let go.”
Is that example a touch over-dramatic? Maybe. But you get the idea. It’s a far more compelling story, and it connects to the pain and fears your reader feels.
Alright, so for your intro, make sure you connect with the prospect. Let them see themselves in your customer success story.
Some key points you’ll want to cover:
- General background information (For example, size of the company, years in business, etc.)
- The #1 problem they faced and why it needed to get solved
- What they wanted and why that was important
Step 2: Their search for help
This is the step almost everyone leaves out of case studies. But it’s critical if you want to separate yourself from the competition.
Your customers probably didn’t come to you the moment they had a problem. They likely shopped around. Or they may have even tried to solve the problem themselves.
This is your chance to show why those other options didn’t work.
You can talk about the time and money they wasted with these other options. And how those options only made the problem worse.
For example, maybe they were leaving money on the table every month because they couldn’t get this issue handled.
Some points you’ll want to include in this section:
- How they tried to solve the problem before coming to you
- Why those options didn’t work
- The negative impact of being unable to solve that problem
Step 3: Working with you
Selling is all about showing and not telling, right?
Well, this is your chance to show what you can do. Talk about your previous customer’s experience working with you and why they chose you.
This is also a great place to bring up any objections your customers had and show how you helped your client overcome them. And when possible, teach something that is immediately helpful and valuable to the reader.
For example, let’s say you have a special onboarding process nobody uses. You can teach a little piece of it. Then show how your customer used that piece and how the reader can implement it to start seeing results.
With this, your case study isn’t just some fluffy piece of marketing. It’s valuable content. It’s something worth reading and sharing.
You’re also triggering reciprocity. You’re helping them with something important. So they’ll be more likely to turn to you when they’re ready to buy.
When I do case studies for clients, I share three helpful lessons the reader can use immediately. And I link those lessons to the unique mechanism or special sauce of my client. So, people can see how they have a special method that isn’t available anywhere else.
Some things to include in this section:
- Why they chose to work with you
- What the experience was like
- The challenges that came up and how you helped them
- Helpful lessons your customers learned that are immediately useful to your reader
- What makes your product/service unique and how it helped your customer
Step 4: Results
Here’s a powerful 1-2-punch method to share results. First, share the data. Let them see the before-and-after numbers.
Second, share the intangible results. The stuff that’s hard to track but makes a big difference — things like morale, happiness, motivation levels, etc.
It’s good to say, “They increased retention 46%”.
It’s way better to then talk about the impact that had.
For example, maybe you talk about how before,
“Employees quietly shuffled around the office like they were inmates on Death Row.
But now, meetings are lively and filled with great ideas. Departments are collaborating more… people are even going to the company softball game. The company finally feels like a family now.”
Some things to include in this section:
- The external results your clients achieved (stats, data, etc.)
- The intangible results they achieved
- Why those results mattered
Step 5: The new normal
This is where you hammer home the long-term impact of your product/service.
Show them what their business/life can look like. Show how working with you will help them reap rewards for years to come. Talk about what your customer’s day-to-day is like now. Share their new goals and what is now possible since you solved this major problem for them.
For example, maybe you have quotes saying that increased retention has helped their sales team crush their quarterly goals. Or you get the CEO to talk about the feeling of pride she feels every day seeing her staff firing on all cylinders and knowing she won’t have to let anyone go.
Some things to include in this section:
- What day-to-day business/life looks like after getting those results
- What is possible now that wasn’t before
- What is next for them in their business/life
Step 6: Overall feedback and advice
This is where you let your customers speak directly to your prospect.
Let your customer share their overall experience working with you and why they recommend you. This way, your prospect gets to hear straight from your customer what makes you/your company special.
Things to include:
- Your customer’s overall experience working with you/using your product
- What your customer would say to someone interested in working with you
Step 7: Call to action
Alright, so now you got them emotionally engaged. You overcame objections and proved you can help them in ways nobody else can. And you showed the amazing transformation that’s only possible if they work with you.
Now, give them a chance to buy.
Ask them to get on a call with you or even to just buy your product right then.
Make it as easy as possible for them to give you money and get the ball rolling in working together.
How to Best Use These Case Studies
The great thing about case studies like this is that you can use them anywhere in your sales funnel.
You can use them to generate leads online. You can put them in your email funnel to build trust and desire. You can even use them to close phone sales.
My clients found that when a prospect doesn’t buy on a sales call if they send a case study of someone just like them, that often closes the deal.
Good case studies save you time on follow-up and shorten the sales cycle.
So what are you waiting for. Throw out your old, boring case studies, and create some that compel you prospects to buy.
Like what you read? Have a better idea of how to write a case study? Have questions, suggestions, or comments? Head over to the community and join the conversation!