A case study is a story. It’s a story about how your organisation helped another organisation overcome a business challenge and become a better business as a result. But – and this is a very big but – even though you’re the narrator, you’re not centre stage in this story. Your customer is. It’s their story you’re telling.
Storytelling has always gone down well with people, which is why case studies are such an important messaging tool for businesses. They got top billing in the Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 report as the most effective type of content (according to 48% of participants), used by 70% of content marketers and only second place to social media posts at 91%. They slipped down the pecking order in the 2020 report to sixth most common content type (still high at 69% though). They also take joint third place (with in-person events) for nurturing leads and second place for converting leads.
Despite their popularity, a lot of organisations struggle with creating good case studies. There are various reasons for this. Some organisations make it all about them and not about the customer. Or it’s too dry or too salesy. Or there’s too much information or not the right kind of information. Or a lack of clear narrative or message….We’ve all seen bad case studies and know what they look like, so we won’t harp on about them.
So, how do you tell a good customer story? You get the basics of good storytelling right. Here are a few things that we do at Insights Media to tell case studies – customer stories – the right way.
Choose a good story to tell
On a surface level, the story is about your customer. But the reality is that it’s about how you helped the customer with their business challenge and how you could also help other organisations with their business challenges. So it’s really important to pick a story that many of your customers and potential customers can relate. You need to give it universal appeal, while maintaining the personal elements of the story.
As with all good stories, there is a general structure to case studies. There’s a beginning (the customer’s business challenge), there’s a middle (the journey to overcoming that challenge) and there’s an end (the resolution). We will help you keep a clear narrative structure.
Tell the story well
There are lots of ways to help a good story be even better. Quotes (particularly from your customers), supporting statistics and infographics add impact, credibility and bring a story alive. As journalists and content providers, we are experts at sourcing material, interviewing people and honing in on the key elements of a strong narrative. We know how to talk to people about business challenges and how to centre a story around customer voice and customer insights. We avoid marketing or salesy language at all costs. Case studies have to be authentic.
Sometimes, case studies fail because organisations try to be too clever. Telling a story simply and clearly can be the most effective option.