The 4 Essential Components of a Strong Case Study

Dec 12, 2018

While every tool in the PR arsenal from press releases to bylines offer value in generating attention, a strong case study has the potential to stand above the rest as a real-world example of how a vendors’ product helped a customer solve a vexing business problem.

A strong case study can help a company begin to move beyond talk to illustrate action specifically the positive outcomes, enhanced revenue or cost savings a prospect can achieve by taking the action of implementing your product. Customers want to know you have experience solving problems just like the ones their company is currently experiencing, and a case study provides the perfect opportunity to demonstrate exactly what your company and product accomplished to deliver value to a similar organization.

A well-executed case study must tell a story. In this story, the hero is the customer that boldly and courageously implemented your product to better serve her own patients or customers. The vendor plays the role of the humble servant, providing support and guidance to help the hero accomplish her goals and save the day.

In its most basic form, a case study’s story consists of “Problem -> Solution -> Results” but a strong case study requires more. Think of it as a job interview in which your primary challenge is to convince a prospect why your product is the one she should hire for the position.

When developing your next cast study, be sure to include these four essential elements:

  • Customer quotes: Don’t just tell us how the customer feels about your product, show us by using the customer’s own words. A customer’s own words always carry more weight and create a greater impact than what a vendor says about its own solution. The best way to obtain valuable quotes is to interview end-users of the product.
  • Quantified results: Nothing is more demoralizing for a case study consumer than to feel interest and curiosity while reading through the introduction, problem and solution sections, only to come to a disappointing results section that contains vague language of improvement and no key metrics. It’s a sure way to turn off a prospect who was beginning to consider your solution. After implementation, did your solution help the customer make money, save money, see more patients, or improve operations in some other quantifiable way? Let us know about it in as much detail as possible. While some customers are understandably reluctant to share specific dollar amounts, they’re more likely to approve of using percentages, such as “grew revenues 50 percent one year after adopting the solution.”
  • What’s next: It isn’t lost on most people that a case study must include detailed information on how a customer has already used a vendor’s solution, but it’s easy to forget to include details about future plans. Does the customer plan to expand use of the solution with a new patient population, offer it at a new location or purchase a complementary product? Including this information will help prospects conceive of a long-term strategy for their adoption of your product.
  • Call to action: Another easy-to-forget aspect of a case study is the call-to-action (CTA), which provides the vendor with an opportunity near the end of the piece to request a specific action from the reader. Whether you’re offering the reader more content to consume or a free giveaway, or asking them to fill out a form, be sure to make the experience as easy as possible for the user to complete.

Wherever your latest prospect is in the customer journey, a solid case study holds the possibility of providing that nudge to take the next step. When you sit down to plan out your next customer case study, don’t forget these four essential elements.

Brandon Glenn

Brandon Glenn is a veteran journalist and marketing and communications professional, with experience in content marketing, social media, media relations and news writing. He gained a deep knowledge of the health IT industry while working as a reporter and editor for MedCity News, which covers the business of innovation in healthcare, and as a senior editor with Medical Economics, a publication that focuses on issues of importance to primary care physicians. In these positions, he also wrote extensively about the hospitals, pharmaceuticals and medical devices industries. Brandon began his journalism career as a reporter with Crain's Cleveland Business and, later, Crain's Chicago Business. Earlier, he was an analyst with consulting firm Accenture. Brandon earned a master's in journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Purdue University.