Case study: my go-to template for showing a success story
There are times your business completes a project that turns out so well, you can’t help wanting to brag about it. Nothing wrong with that! A case study is a great tool for showing the ins and outs of your success story.
In my experience working with business development teams, potential clients expect to examine your value proposition though real-life examples. A case study offers an in-depth analysis of how you navigated a particular challenge and got the job done.
A case study can tell a story that resonates at a personal level
To go beyond just presenting your methods and results, how do you want to be perceived? A well-executed case study demonstrates authority, positioning you as a leader in your industry. It showcases your expertise, innovation or unconventional problem solving. But a case study shouldn’t be a rigid and monotone laundry list of facts. Through storytelling you can convey an emotional narrative that persuades others to trust you. Doing it right can set up a strong foundation for a meaningful relationship with your future client.
Building a case study for your business:
Now, a case study can be produced in many formats. However, in the spirit of starting off with a BANG, I consider video to be hands down the best method. Audiovisual presentations are engaging, immersive, and accessible, so they make an outstanding complement to any sales pitch.
In essence, a case study is a narrative that outlines:
- a business challenge,
- the methodology behind its solution, and
- the results it produced over time.
The following practical guide breaks down these steps in chronological order to help you create an engaging case study in video format.
1: Introduce your company
We all know what a weak handshake can do for a personal first impression. A droning case study can do the same when you introduce your business! You’ll want to begin your marketing case study with the positive high energy of a big smile and a firm handshake. The best way to do this is to open with a 10-15-word elevator pitch or company tagline. Regardless of who watches your video, you can’t assume they know exactly what you do. Opening with this explanation positions your business and gives you control over how it’s perceived.
Look for ways to highlight positive aspects of your business in your introduction. For example, you may want to praise your business development team or emphasize your fast turnaround times. Leveraging an ultra-focused business summary sets the tone before you dive into “the challenge.”
Finally, complement this elevator pitch with a unique and memorable visual element such as an animated logo or motion graphic.
2: Lay out the business challenge and stakes
Now that you’ve captured your potential client’s attention, you can dig into your success story. In the second section, you’ll show your viewer how the project started and the opportunity it presented for your business. Begin by explaining the problem your client was trying to solve or the results they hoped to achieve.
Be strategic with this description by keeping the conclusion section in mind as you structure it. You need to be sure that your initial challenge is consistent with the results you’ll present at the end of the case study.
Bonus: Adding a little flare of drama is tricky; you shouldn’t be misleading! Yet if you do it well and set up high stakes at the beginning, it will make your results POP at the end! Think contrast: starting with “we were told it was impossible,” and ending with “but we did it!” makes for an underdog success story worth cheering for.
Take it up a notch by bringing the client in
Consider asking the client you served in your case study to get involved in the production of your video. You can seriously bolster your credibility by featuring a satisfied customer endorsing your services. It can be a short, recorded testimonial of the client quickly summarizing the challenge they faced. This establishes from the get-go that the satisfied client endorses your case study. We’ll dig into how to get the most out of your testimonial later.
3: Offer context and show related data
Providing context is vital to the impact of your case study because it offers perspective. Focus on leveraging the elements of your success story that emphasize your stakes, such as:
- the project’s audience,
- the market,
- your resources,
- your competition,
- the timeframe, etc.
If you present these variables clearly, your future client will be able to imagine themselves as the subject of your next success story. So, dig in! Gather relevant data such as charts, analyses, insights, metrics, or even social media screenshots.
Now, remember that in marketing, presentation is everything! How you display these stats can make or break your viewer’s engagement. Use animation or a similarly appealing method to display these assets in a way that illustrates the ins and outs of the campaign. Avoid fluff! Only use data that highlights your results.
4: Dive into your solution and prove you can solve a problem
It’s time to showcase your recipe for success! This is where your business’ team will take the spotlight. This section represents the core of your message —your value proposition— so be thorough! Begin by listing all the goals you set out to achieve. As I mentioned before, keep in mind that you’ll need to show results for those goals in your conclusion.
Then, introduce the methodology behind your solution. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn! Talk about your innovative approach and willingness to take risks to achieve success. Get them excited!
Once you’ve established the mentality behind your methods, define the system you put in place to solve your client’s challenge. Prove you went the extra mile, stress your commitment to delivering results, and prominently showcase your problem-solving skills.
To illustrate your game plan, divide your procedure into chronological phases. Outline how each key moment led into the next, explaining the mechanics and logic behind each phase.
Bolster this section by including any media you may have captured throughout your project. For instance, if you have pictures, time-lapses or videos, consider incorporating them into your narrative. Find clever ways to illustrate the more abstract elements of your story. Creativity is the name of the game!
5: Showcase your success story results
If you’ve played your cards right, your viewer will be enthusiastically thinking “show me the money!” when you’ve reached the conclusion of your success story. Now that you’ve revealed how you paved your way to success, pore over your results! This section should thoroughly illustrate the outcome of each goal you set out to achieve. These must be meticulously backed up with solid data.
Data makes the success of your case study tangible and real, so metrics and statistics really matter. I’m talking before and after comparison charts, return on investment figures, market share growth, PR & social media mentions, illustrating a timely and budget-friendly finish, etc. These stats represent your success, so make them exciting! Where possible, create motion graphics to illustrate these insights.
Put your gratified client front and center
Customer testimonials go here. There’s nothing like a glowing client recommendation to convey credibility. Having this in your video really closes the deal. Feature your client verbalizing how your ingenuity impacted their business, reaffirming your reliability as their company’s partner.
In my experience, guiding your customer testimonial is vital. Although it may seem forceful to “tell” someone what to say, I always prepare a list of questions that will likely result in flattering answers from customers. A testimonial may also give the endorser valuable exposure, so bring up the advantages of endorsing you. If they record their message without a professional crew, share these tips to record their own testimonial. In order to avoid any bitter surprises, I strongly suggest having your client sign a release before making their testimonial public.
6: Close with a big punch
To wrap up your case study, highlight your value proposition as you summarize how you solved the initial challenge. The conclusion is all about indicating that you are poised to win, so your viewer has a first-rate impression of your business and of your problem-solving skills.
As I said in the beginning, a case study should be a story of thought leadership, innovation and unconventional problem solving. Lock in your viewers’ high regard and make it clear that you’re always keen for a challenge.
Considerations for building a great case study:
-Voice and Tone
Don’t forget to spice up your storytelling. Pick an active voice and don’t use complicated jargon and buzzwords “just because.” To avoid sounding like a robot, aim to tell the story with a conversational tone. This is key to keeping the energy high during your video. More relatable = more engagement!
-Length or duration
In my experience, even the most complex of projects can be presented in three minutes or less. When you’re concise, your viewers are more likely to connect and pay attention.
-Define the look and feel
While staying on brand, a case study should feel like it took place in the real world. Beware of relying on boring and cliché stock video, graphics, or icons. The same applies for music and sound design.
Make sure you’re purchasing licenses for all of your media elements. I always find great stock video at videoblocks.com and fantastic music tracks from premiumbeat.com. But for a more in depth look at libraries out there, Avasam recently shared this article about free stock video websites to source great footage in 2020. There’s a misconception that since a case study is an “internal” piece, you can get away with using any applicable material you come across the internet. However, beware of breaking the law. Using unlicensed media can result in your video being taken down, a copyright infringement, or worse— a lawsuit.
Who’s going to narrate your video? You may choose to appear in the video yourself, but a common practice is to hire professional voice over talent. You could also choose to combine these options. I usually prefer to use a professional voice over because aside from the sleek sophistication it adds, it also guarantees proper pronunciation and diction. I always find great professionals to work with that fit my budget at voices.com
-Offer subtitles or captions
As a native Spanish speaker, I always like to watch movies in English with subtitles to ensure that I’m not going to miss anything. The same applies for marketing pieces. Subtitles can make your content accessible to multinational audiences and also boost your message clarity for your English-speaking audience.
Subtitles also allow the video to be watched with the sound off —a particularly useful tool for when your video is shared on Social Media. For all the benefits they offer, adding .srt captions to a video is cheap and easy.
A case study is a critical part of a well-rounded marketing strategy. From a funding point of view, they are key assets for motivating future investors. From a PR perspective, case studies are usually an industry requirement for award shows and for your company’s work to be reviewed by judges and panels of experts. Building credibility plays a vital role in making your sales plan a reality. A strong case study can be a powerful instrument for communicating trustworthiness.
Remember, a case study doesn’t have to be flashy, but it does need to comprise persuasive storytelling. Additionally, taking your customer’s business needs into consideration and reflecting them in your problem-solving strategy is imperative for making your success story relevant to your audience.
If you have any trouble following these steps, reach out to me with any questions. Have fun!