A Case for Case Studies
Published September 17, 2008 by Gillian Hunter
Case studies have long been seen as an effective way for companies to tell their story. To let people know what work they do, who they do that work for, and importantly, what their customers think about the end-result!
There are three crucial things which all communications should do. Communications material should be relevant to an audience, provide evidence of work and provide credibility for your organisation.
Case studies tick all the boxes. Case studies are one of the few communications tools at your disposal that do all these things in one. And the great thing about case studies is that they can tell the story quickly and succinctly. At a glance people will see the relevance, see evidence and perceive you as being credible.
Relevant Your customers are only interested in solutions, services and products that will solve their problem and meet their business needs. But how do they know you are right for the job. Easy. You show them that that what you do is relevant to them.
How? By demonstrating how your solution solved someone else's problem. For a similar company, a similar situation, or a similar problem. So, when you complete a customer project or campaign, you immediately need to think who will benefit. Who is it relevant to. That will help you categorise how you package the solution and enable you to win future business.
Ask: Who is this problem / solution / service relevant to? Which markets would be interested in how we have solved this problem? Which of our customers would benefit from knowing about this?� Who in our organisation / greater organisation need to be aware of this project?
Evidence Your customers want evidence of where you've done it before. They need to be able to trust you can do the job. And, because in most businesses there is more than one decision maker - you need to provide the evidence.
Before your customer signs on the dotted line, they will want to know who you have done work for before, the detail of that work and what the outcome was. It provides the reassurance that they are making the right choice. While working on a project or campaign you need to make sure you document / keep a record of the work done.
Ask: What is the scope of the work? What was the customer problem / challenge? How did we answer their requirements/ needs / challenges? What solution did we provide? Was the solution�or service provided�unusual / different from the norm? Why was this? How did we carry out the work? What are the expected outcomes? What are the real outcomes and results. What are the benefits to the customer. What is the feedback from the customer? Are there any issues we need to address in future projects? The list goes on ...
Credibility Your customers need to know that you are credible. Not only that can you do the job, but that you 'cut the mustard' as an organisation. Credibility comes from who you are. And, who you are is inseparable from the customers you do work for and the projects you do for those customers. You earn credibility over time. It is about doing the right things in the right way.
So, how do you earn credibility? By building on your existing customer relationships. By talking to your customers and encouraging dialogue and feedback. By understanding where the value is for your customers. And, by having insight into what your customers really think about you and the work you do. This earns you credibility with your own customers - and consequently with your prospective customers, suppliers, employees...
Ask: How can we use this project to build credibility? Who do we need to speak to in the customer organisation? What issues do we need to resolve? What positive points do we need to reinforce? What feedback have we had from our customers? And from whom? What is the senior management view? What is the end-user view? Do we have a process to monitor longer-term customer satisfaction? And so forth ...
Case studies tick all three these boxes> They are relevant to a specific target market. They provide evidence of work, and they help to build credibility.
See our case study on a case study project for Airetrak, a high-tech company targeting the healthcare sector.
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