Case studies are invaluable. A showcase of excellent work will build your credibility, set you apart from your competitors and increase your chances of winning that new contract. Real, strong case studies give your business content the competitive edge and help make you the provider of choice. It’s also true that most businesses have good websites and social media presence. This means that you have the perfect platform to publish your case studies already.

A great case study will concisely tell your prospects what you do, how you do it and how well it works. It’s credible because it’s been approved by your customer, so it increases a prospect’s belief in your ability to deliver. Having case studies to hand also means that you have compelling material ready when it’s time to apply for industry awards.

Case studies take time to develop and sign off, but you can use this guide about how to write a case study to help you create them more quickly and effectively. By doing this, you show your potential customers how you’ve helped other people just like them.

Create a template

The first step in how to write a case study is to create a template – or bank of of templates. Make sure your template contains the essential information that prospects will need to understand to make a purchase. Remember, buyers are now typically 75% of the way through the sales cycle before they interact with a salesperson. So your case studies need to show your capability, credibility and reliability. Publish online, on social media and in industry publications. Success stories with other customers cement the idea that speaking to your sales staff makes sense – that you’re a sure bet.

Collating material for case studies can take time and many businesses find it hard to allocate resources for this. Take your time to build a bank of case studies, references and testimonials to suit all relevant industry verticals, business sizes and solutions. This is an effective way to help you acquire the selection of customer stories you will need.

Once you begin creating case studies, make sure you put a process in place to help you repeat the tasks involved efficiently and without disruption to your day-to-day business.

Demonstrate value

A case study is a showcase of the results you’ve achieved for your customer. It must include specifics about the value of your work and explain how you helped your customer achieve success. You can include growth percentages, sales numbers, engagement rates or any other relevant numbers that add weight to your story. A general ‘this customer was very happy with our service’ isn’t enough.

You probably already have excellent analytics that tell you which customers are experiencing great results. If you’re not tracking data, your customers will be, so it’s okay to ask them for numbers. You don’t need to reference huge differences and tens of thousands in profit – small wins and small percentage growth statistics are relevant and often more realistic. The important thing is that you’re demonstrating a valid ROI that will help potential customers to see the value of you to their own business.

Tell a story

Case studies don’t have to be dry and boring – in fact, they’re the best way for you to tell the story of your work and demonstrate your passion.

Identify a spokesperson to be the face of your case study and make sure that person is happy for their name to be attributed to the story. Giving a client name is more credible than a job title.

It’s likely that you already know of a few close contacts who’d be happy to do this, but if not, you can ask your customer support team, check for positive reviews online or look out for someone who’s engaging with you on social media. You’ll need someone who understands your work and feels positively about your company, products and services.

You can build processes into your customer service and marketing processes that help you to farm case studies when business takes place rather than having to hunt for people afterwards.

Your story should set the scene, identify the problem and show what you did to solve it. It’s important to be specific about your company’s and exactly what you did to get results. The story should then have a happy ending by stating the results you achieved.

Create several versions

As with all good content, it’s a great idea to create your case study as a bite, a snack and a meal. Have a small version that highlights the key points, a medium-sized version with more details, then a full, detailed case study. Your mini is for Twitter and your medium-sized one is for Linkedin. These can both link to the full story on your website.

There you have it. How to write a case study.