At one time, most of the B2B publications printed one or two small case studies every month. These were typically short pieces, about 150/250 words, and were usually available just for the publication’s advertisers.
Today, although some publications will post case studies online at no charge, very few will publish them in print for free. Nevertheless, case studies can be very powerful marketing tools, so whether you have to pay to have one published or you can get one posted online for free, you should consider this marketing strategy. Here are some suggestions as to how to prepare them most effectively.
Be clear as to what a case study is. A case study is a real-life situation that discusses a problem and how your product, service, technology, or methodology helped solve the problem. It must be supported with as many facts and figures as possible to give it credibility.
Experience it. An effective case study allows the reader, who is likely a potential buyer for your product or services, to experience the business problem. Very often they have had the same difficulty operating their facility that is being discussed and are curious to see how your product or service helped solve it.
Consider word count. If you are paying for the case study, the publication will instruct you as to the allowable word count. Typically they are from 500 to 600 words. If the study is to be posted online, 250 words is usually the maximum.
Get the technicals right. Come up with an inviting title, about eight to ten words. Also, keep sentences short — about 10 to 15 words — and paragraphs at about 50 words. Have someone proofread the case study before you submit it.
Use keywords effectively. If the case study will be posted online, it is very important to emphasize keywords for better SEO. Here’s a little trick: Start your title with the article’s keywords. For instance, instead of the title being:
How to Write Powerful and Effective Case Studies
a more SEO-effective title would be:
Case Studies: How to Make Them Powerful and Effective
No advertorials. One of the problems with writing a case study is that it can easily become an advertorial. When this happens, they lose their impact. The best way to avoid this is to remove yourself as much as possible from your product or service and see yourself as a reporter. You are reporting on a problem and this is how you saw it solved.
Add quotes. Quotes can be very powerful in a case study. Again, avoid becoming too advertorial; however, if the end user has something very positive – and powerful – to say about your product or service, a quote from that person lends more credence than if the comment came from you.
End with a strong conclusion. This can get a bit tricky. What I often advise is to end the case study with a quote from the satisfied end user or some supporting evidence — that is, facts and figures. For instance:
“After using the XXX vacuum cleaner for six months, daily attendance at the school has risen more than 10 percent. ‘We attribute this to the new XXX vacuum cleaner,’ says the school’s principal. ‘It has really made a difference here.’”
Along with getting them published, be sure and add case studies to your web site. Case studies are a valuable marketing tool not to be overlooked.
By Robert Kravitz