Roving Report: Getting Creative with Case Studies

Ed Gandia slid into copywriting through the backdoor.

Working as a salesperson for a company that didn’t provide marketing materials, he started writing his own. After he got pretty good at it, he found out it’s called copywriting.

Ed had fun with it, so he began freelance copywriting as a side gig. After about 2½ years, he was doing well enough to quit his “real” job to write full time.

Along the way, Ed became known as a case study specialist. Wealthy Web Writer’s Managing Editor Heather Robson invited Ed to talk with members about how to use case studies in their businesses. You can listen to the entire teleconference HERE.

Case Studies are Success Stories

Ed likes the term “success stories” better than “case studies.”

Whichever name you use, they are short pieces that describe how a company solved a challenge with a particular product or service, and what the results were.

The basic outline of this short before-and-after story follows this pattern:

“This company had this particular problem, they looked for a solution, and found the product/service from that company. They implemented it and have enjoyed these benefits.”

It’s really straightforward, and it’s usually written as feature article incorporating classic storytelling elements.

Case Studies are Popular

Case studies have been popular with clients for a long time, Ed told us, because they get great results.

In a September 2017 research study from the Content Marketing Institute, a couple of items highlighted just how important case studies are. (The annual study gets its results from surveying businesses.)

One question asked which types of content the business used. 73% of respondents use case studies as a regular part of their marketing. The only marketing more popular was social media posts.

When asked, “Of the content marketing types you use, which three are the most effective?” case studies came in second place, right behind e-books and white papers (and ahead of social media).

Because they read like stories, readers see case studies as useful content that’s helping them to make a buying decision. They don’t view the case study as “promotional.”

Ed reminded us that stories are extremely powerful. Humans have evolved to respond to stories — it’s hardwired into our DNA.

A good case study brings your product or service to life.

“It’s one thing to talk about specifications and features. It’s another thing to talk about benefits, and yet another to show how someone used that product to solve a real problem.”

As a writer, Ed enjoys writing case studies because they’re relatively short, and they’re “fun to write because you’re writing a story. Every one you write will be very different.”

Another benefit to using case studies, one that’s not often mentioned, is that competitors can’t duplicate them.

“Nobody can copy your case studies because nobody can copy how that customer solved a particular problem using your product or service. That’s the intersection of a lot of different factors that nobody else will be able to replicate.”

There are quite a few ways to leverage a case study, beyond simply turning it into a downloadable PDF.

Ed outlined seven strategies for making case studies work harder. Use these in your client work, and also to promote your own freelance business. Ed added that “it might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many companies out there don’t even think about doing some of these things.”

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Susanna Perkins

Susanna was dragged back, kicking and screaming, into freelancing after losing her job in the banking meltdown in March, '09. One 3-month stint in an appalling temp job persuaded her to get serious about establishing herself as web writer. In March, 2012, she moved to a small town in Panama with her husband and three small dogs. After enjoying the writer's life in the culture of "buenas" and "mañana" for 2-1/2 years, she's returned to the US. At least for now.

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