Once you’ve established awareness with blog posts or other top-of-funnel forms, case studies are an essential next step in the client’s buying journey. It makes sense: you’ve piqued their interest with an engaging blog post, now they want to know that you are a serious partner. The best way to demonstrate that to them is to provide tangible proof that you’ve solved a problem similar to theirs in the past. Creating a compelling case study helps reinforce your credibility to offer a professional opinion in a white paper later in the content strategy.
Case studies are most effective when you can illustrate the measured results. Several vital questions create the outline:
- What was the project objective or problem to solve?
- What was your process, and how did you implement it?
- What was the result, and by what margin did your solution improve the prior state?
It sounds simple, but to execute a case study that defines you as an authority on a subject, you need to play POLO:
- Objective and Source
- Linear Approach
- Frame the Problem to Solve
The case study subject approached you with a specific problem. Some examples of opportunities are increasing leads, pivoting to a new market segment, generating revenue, or complying with government regulations.
1.) Define the study’s objective and source
Once you have outlined the problem, it is time to define success. How do you measure it? Is there a minimum number of leads to achieve, a percent increase in sales, a reduction of waste?
Going hand-in-hand with the objective is identifying the best choice for a case study subject. Look through your clients’ project with you, and pick the project that solved the problem you identify as significantly or entirely as possible. Approach your contact for that source and ask for written permission to confirm that they agree to have you list the case study on your website. It is free PR for them and offers exposure to the brand and employees quoted in the study.
2.) Linear Approach
This process is the most critical step. Walk the reader the way you approached the problem in great detail first. How you approached the problem provides prospective clients with insight into how you would approach theirs.
Lead generation, for example, could start by measuring the current state and identifying current methods (step 1). Your approach to increase leads may be to create a content strategy and SEO research, from which you can define content pieces and types.
How did your approach work? You should select a subject with whom you achieve great success. Usually, this type of client would be happy with your work and should be willing to provide a quote and release for a case study. If not, continue through the list of successes to find a client that is willing to share the details of your project with them. Summarize the work and draw conclusions based on the research.
Other tips and tricks:
- Consider your audience: engineers like data. The more data you gather when applying, your approach will bolster the conclusion you make at the end.
- Describe how your process is unique and leverages the specific skills that you and your firm offer. This approach creates a differentiator and something that could be expanded in future blog posts.
- Use specific quotes, pictures, headshots, and images as permitted by the source. This step personalized the study and allows the constantly-scrutinizing engineer to conduct his or her own Google research to vet your conclusion.
- Provide a CTA or link to more content. This step guides the reader down the funnel at the point they identify your expertise in a subject area. White papers are a logical follow to case studies; now that you’ve established you are an expert, share a data-supported point you want to make.
Case studies are a logical bridge to moving the engineering marketing down the purchasing funnel. Following the steps above ensures your study is helpful for prospective clients while establishing you as the authority. Here are example case studies (1, 2) that ASK Consulting provided for Master Bond and Qosina.
Have we missed anything? Have case studies helped your business? Reach out and tell us how