From childhood, we are told that fingerprints make us distinct. Do you know how we first started using fingerprints to differentiate people? In 1903, a man named Will West arrived at Leavenworth Penitentiary to serve out his sentence. At intake, officials were confused because they already had a Will West in custody that matched that man’s description. The two men looked very much alike, although they said they weren’t related. At that time, the Bertillon System used bone measurements to differentiate people. But, that system also confirmed they were a match. The only way they could be told apart was by their fingerprints.

From that case, fingerprinting became a precedent to definitively identify individuals.

That situation reminds me of many small businesses as they compete for market share. While they are different entities, they can be difficult to tell apart. Case studies present a valuable opportunity to separate your business from competitors.

Give Yourself a Hand

Most business plan templates will recommend that you build case studies as part of your pitch. This solid advice is easy to give and harder to implement. Great case studies are built through a rigorous process of interviews, data collection, and research. After these three points of information are compiled, a case study is built similar to a novel.

Case Studies need…

  • compelling characters including your team and the people you serve
  • a recognizable setting that readers recognize
  • details that ground the story in facts
  • a problem that creates narrative conflict
  • a resolution that solves the initial problem

When done well, a case study takes your claims and backs them up with evidence.

Touch and Go

Similar to an eBook, a case study facilitates information sharing. People in your field will recommend the document if they find the contents helpful. Essentially, a strong case study can create a communication loop that benefits your organization.

When you publish a case study, it gives you something of substance to distribute over various channels. You can post on your website, promote it on social media, send it out via email, and more. Additionally, the landing page can target appropriate keywords giving you visibility to search engines. Finally, a print version can assist your sales team in developing a robust leave-behind packet.

Then, when people read your case study, they may share it. It could be in a highly visible, digital channel like social media. Or they could simply reference the message as they talk with colleagues. Either way, you get exposure.

How to Use a Case Study for Marketing

More than once, I have worked with manufacturing businesses to document their process into a succinct case study. To accomplish this, I had to interview engineers, the general manager and tour the factory floor. The resulting case studies equipped their sales team to illustrate the benefits of their process without giving away trade secrets. Often, we would create accompanying videos to summarize the case study’s content.

Creating a case study that moves the market requires a thoughtful review of data to draft a compelling narrative. You can set yourself apart from competitors with authentic, unique stories and information.

In the end, you will have a document that not only works as a sales or networking tool but also, benefits your audience during their decision-making process.

Additional Resources

  • How Valuable Are Case Studies For Content Marketing? from Forbes
  • 3 Secrets to Closing More Deals by Using Compelling Case Studies, from Entrepreneur
  • Why You Need to Create Case Studies (a Data Driven Answer) from Neil Patel
  • How to Publish 3 Case Studies in 3 Weeks, from Danielle Verderame