Case studies are a powerful marketing tool, and even better piece of content that can positively impact your businesses sales.

Case studies are excellent at creating trust and credibility with customers and prospects, as well as excellent ways for your sales team to better target your audience.

Case studies are great for PR, too.

In reality, however, most case studies fail. They fail because they are either mind numbingly boring, or devoid of any quantitative information that aids buyers in understanding your company’s benefits.

For your pleasure, we’re counting the five most common case study mistakes companies make, how to avoid them, and most importantly how to write compelling, yet persuasive copy in order to publish case studies that your prospects will love.

1) You don’t tell a story (or don’t tell a good story)

Storytelling is the defining difference between other marketing tools such as testimonials. Testimonials talk about how great your company is, rather than making the focus on what you can do for another business. Case studies should be written in third person adding a credibility that first person can’t replicate. By shifting the role of protagonist onto someone else, you gain trust from your audience.

Your company should model the classic story telling arch.

  • Conflict/Challenge : Set the scene by introducing the “hero” or company you’re using. Establish their business briefly and what obstacle they were facing. A story has no tension or sakes if there are no obstacles to overcome.
  • Climax/Solution: The climax is usually the highest moment of tension in a story. It’s when the humans in The Two Towers are making a final stand against Sauron’s army, when the Rebels are making their life or death strike on the Death Star in Star Wars IV. It’s the moment in the case study when the business has made the choice to switch to your business.
    Explain why they made the choice, let them know from the previous conflict what was on the line for their business.
  •  Resolution/Results: Describe what your solution did for the company, what they were able to achieve after implementing your help. Did they save money? Have better organization? Whatever the result, make sure to showcase it.

When a potential client reads your case study, they should be able to insert themselves into the hero’s shoes and image what results you can bring them, rather than flaunting your own company’s glory.

2) You provide no details

As listed in the Resolution/Results above, make sure you spell out in detail what your business did for the case study business. Whether it be “They were able to grow their business from the $300 a week they saved after using…” or, “They had more time to train their walrus army due to the time saved by using…”

Use graphs, pie charts, or any visual images that will highlight benefits.

Providing details like these will help potential clients visualize measurable results for their own business to replicate.

3) You aren’t addressing your audience

It is important when writing a case study to select just one audience to speak to. If you cater to multiple types of clients; tailor each case study to address one persona.

When writing, focus only on the details that this persona would care about, and address their needs and concerns.

4) You don’t have focus

Many times case study writers want to talk about all the aspects they’re working at fixing, but without focus you will confuse your readers and you’ll come across salesy.

Much like focusing on one persona, choose an angle that will highlight your company the best. Even if your company solved five problems for that business, pick the two strongest (or one) and emphasis that aspect.

Possible angles you might choose include:

  • Cost
  • Time
  • Energy
  • Efficiency
  • Customer Service

5) You don’t have customer quotes

You can tell the most epic story in your case study, but if it doesn’t have a quote from your client the case study will lack a sense of humanity. It’s also vital that you interview real customers, do not lie or make them up, even if your customer is going to approve them.

Quotes generated by a marketing team will sound flat and artificial compared to what your customer will say in his or her own words. Get your case study quotes in your customers own words, as this is the most impactful for those reading it.

Not sure how to develop an effective case study?

If you want to see how your peers have solved their marketing and website problems, take a look at our portfolio , and see what others have said about the result.

And if your IT firm wants to learn more about what steps to take with your own marketing initiatives, or would like a free consultation, contact us here .