I'm always a little surprised at how seldom businesses use case studies to market themselves.

When I use the term "case study" I'm not referring to the kind of academic case histories used in law school or business school (and probably a lot of other professional educational programs I'm not as familiar with).

The case studies we are talking about here are simply "success stories" in which one of your clients is the main character, and your product or service solves a major problem for this client.

Suppose, for example, that your client is a mid-sized distribution center that was having a lot of trouble running out of inventory and getting their customers' orders fulfilled. Your company provides a comprehensive inventory management system that gives instant tracking of what products are needed for each customer and what vendors have those items in stock.

Your company and your customer work together to solve their inventory problems and the issues of getting their customers' orders delivered in a timely manner.

The result is beyond your customer's expectations and their business jumps up in earnings accordingly.

In essence, this case study is a three-act play of sorts.

  • Act One: Your client had a problem that was causing lost business, extra costs and a lot of anxiety for its executives.
  • Act Two: They discover your company and your service and you work with them to achieve an ideal solution to their problem.
  • Act Three: The results are excellent. Their problems are not only solved, but the people involved are happy (you always want to put the human element in a good case study).

Case studies are effective because they are stories. We remember stories and will read them when our eyes glaze over at other marketing materials. When we read about the "characters" in a story or a true life case study, we tend to identify with that person's situation, struggles and journey toward a resolution.

This last point is really true. Think back to some fantasy movie you've watched in which the situation is very far removed from your own personal reality, like the Spider Man movies, or Battlestar Galactica, or Robin Hood. I'm fairly certain you don't spend your spare time swinging from tall skyscrapers, fighting battles in space or defending the poor from evil knights with bows and arrows while wearing tights (ooh, bad visual), but you still relate or identify with characters in a good story.

The same is true with case studies because they are stories. You are probably not in the distribution industry, and your problems are probably not the same as the business I described above. But you do face problems that need to be solved, and as a result, you might still consider the systems company as a firm that could help you.

In the next article in this series, I will write about how many ways a case study can be used to produce excellent results for promoting your business.

COPYRIGHT © 2008, Charles Brown


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