Now, it’s time to switch gears and talk about case studies.
A lot of people wonder why they even need case studies, especially if they have awesome customer testimonials. After all, both case studies and testimonials help new customers overcome their objections and get closer to making a purchase.
But they do it in two different ways:
A testimonial is an ENDORSEMENT.
It uses first person point of view (for example: “I love this course!”). It tells the reader a brief personal story about overcoming problems by using your product. If the testimonial is written correctly, the reader will feel confident that your product is right for them, too.
A case study is an EXAMINATION.
It uses third person point of view (for example: “Jennifer’s business was losing money.”) It tells the reader an educational story that is often longer than a testimonial and includes more specific detail. Keep your case study between 1-3 pages so it’s still consumable in a short amount of time.
A good case study is like a fairy tale or a fable: a story that teaches a lesson.
Start with some background information, the “Once upon a time” section of the piece. You know how fairy tales start: “Once upon a time, there was a poor girl named Cinderella who had a wicked stepmother.”
This tells us who the main character is and what the main problem is. For your case study, it will sound something like: “Jennifer’s consulting business was losing money, and she didn’t know what to do.”
(It helps to pretend you’re writing a press release, and put the most important details in the lede.)
Then, give some more detail to set the scene. Where does Jennifer live? What is her business like? How had it been doing before, and what changed? What did Jennifer think the problem was?
Ideally, these details match up with what your potential customers are experiencing, and they’ll see themselves in Jennifer’s situation.
Next, talk about how the customer discovered your product and their initial hesitation. Don’t be afraid to be “real” and mention negatives. Old-fashioned fairy tales have plenty of darkness in them, but that only helps to make the resolution more believable. That’s reality, and it’s okay to show it.
Go into detail about your customer’s experience with the product. You don’t have to mention all of your features in every case study. Only talk about the features that worked for them.
You may have a beginner client who only uses your most basic features, and it’s okay to only talk about that. You can talk about your more sophisticated features in a case study about an advanced user.
Be clear about how the product helped your customer, and use numbers and facts whenever you’re allowed.
Let’s say Jennifer got her business back on track by using your product.
It’s okay to say it that way, but it’s more specific to say: Jennifer increased her monthly income by 120% by using your product.
Wrap up with a lesson. This is like the moral at the end of a fable, the “slow and steady wins the race” wrap-up moment.
In your case studies, the moral is always “to solve X problem, use the product.” The “X” varies depending on what your customers’ specific problem is—just make sure you’re promising something you can deliver. So, you can say, “Jennifer thought she had to tear down her business if she wanted to stop losing money. But all she had to do was use Product X to increase her monthly revenue.”
Let’s take a look at one of Summit Evergreen’s case studies to show you how this looks in real life.
Because we use case studies as part of our ongoing blog content, you’ll notice there’s a header image and introduction that we use consistently. Here’s what it looks like:
Now, we mentioned above that case studies are written in third person and testimonials are in first person. That’s usually the case, but our case study subject, Peter Arnott, was so articulate about his experience with Summit Evergreen that we let him speak for himself.
Here’s the “Once upon a time” setup:
Just like a fairy tale, Peter’s story has some added complications.
This is perfect content to include in a case study. Don’t worry about it being confusing, or “too much information.” We can guarantee, there’s someone out there reading Peter’s case study who is in exactly the same place.
This is the part of the story where Peter realizes he needs to try something else. He tries out a few options, then hears about Summit Evergreen and decides to give it a go:
Peter loves Summit Evergreen right away. Now, this is not always the case when someone tries a new product. It’s okay to mention if your customer was confused at first, or if they weren’t sure they wanted to invest their money in your product. Those are normal reactions.
Below, Peter talks about five things he loves about the product.
Notice how there’s a video in this section? Video is a fantastic tool to use within your case studies. Go ahead and ask your customers (nicely!) if they’ll make a video of themselves using their favorite feature in your product.
Below, Peter outlines four more reasons he loves the product.
One thing you’ll notice here—Peter doesn’t mention every single solitary feature that Summit Evergreen offers. This would be 50 pages long if he did that! Instead, Peter focuses on the features that are most important to him, and he explains why in a way you can easily understand.
That’s exactly what you want to do in your case studies.
Now, time for the wrap-up. Remember, this is the part of your case study where you tell the “moral of the story.”
Peter’s moral is very clear: he went from no audience, no email list and no expertise to $16k in profits from his very first online course…by using Summit Evergreen.
See how much more effective it is to include a real dollar amount than to say something general like “Peter’s first course was very successful”?
There’s also another video in this section. We can’t say enough how valuable video is to help get your point across. Nothing connects you with another human being like looking into their eyes and hearing the sound of their voice. It builds trust, and it shows just how passionate your customers are about your product.
Take a look:
Here are three more case study examples to help you learn:
Now that you know what a great case study looks like, here’s what to do next:
- Think about the biggest customer objections you have to deal with when selling your product. Think about conversations you’ve had with reluctant buyers. Dig up old email chains. Look at feedback you’ve gotten on customer response forms. What are the major objections people have?
- Once you have that information, look through your satisfied customers and find someone who has overcome that same problem.
- Then, schedule a time to interview them about their experience and create a case study that helps reluctant buyers understand your value.