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Case study: Is it for our industry?

18 May 2017

Garry Lewis, Marketing & Communications Manager, Mitsubishi Electric provides five points on the importance of case studies and the power they have in industry.

In a word Yes. But suffice to say this may be my last article if I was to end the piece here, it’s important to demonstrate why case studies are so important.

Before we answer the question, what are we talking about here? What is a case study?

According to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR:)
“A case study is an excellent way to present your company in a positive light, both in the media and as marketing collateral. It describes how a customer's business has benefitted from using your product (or service).”

Let’s put this in perspective. You’ve created an attractive business website, you may have designed a glossy brochure, written some news or a blog post, possibly got a newsletter going and you could have even have launched yourself on social media.

So you believe you’re ‘marketing set’, ready to be inundated with visitors and customers, busy answering the phone, retweeting and selling.  

Well, I am sorry to say this is not enough – especially for today’s discerning customer, who want the proof that your products and/or services really are exactly what they need.

After all, today’s customer is very specific in what they are looking for. They want a solution to meet their individual needs and before they have even contacted you will undoubtedly have done their research online and offline.

Here is where a decent case study can prove its worth.

It has been said, that a case study is one of the hardest types of PR activities to achieve, yet can be one of the most rewarding and effective methods of marketing communications.  

The reason being, businesses can use them to show how their own customers have implemented products or services successfully.

Case studies can be more effective than your traditional sales brochures. Why? Because a case study tells a story, it paints a picture and we all know that ‘a picture paints a thousand words.’ 

The difference is it’s not your story, or your picture demonstrating how you solved an issue – it’s that of your customer. Who is a perspective client going to believe – you saying how amazing you are, or your customer?

Still not convinced about the power of the case study; here’s five points I hope will help prove the point.

1: Case studies make great content

As we’ve said, case studies tell a story and arguably are one of the most powerful ways of demonstrating your products and solutions.  

For this reason, case studies make for great content, not only for your website but also the press love a good case study – as they provide much more genuine content. 

Without case studies, you’re stuck with explaining what you do and why it’s beneficial to customers but there are only so many ways and times you can describe your products and services.

A case study helps bring your product to life. It aids as an illustration of what you do, not just an explanation. Stories are one of the best ways to stimulate people’s brains and get them to remember what you’re saying. 

2: Case studies focus on the customer

Many businesses make the mistake of talking about themselves too much. Don’t be one of them. 

Case studies focus on the customer and how they’ve used your product. Customers get to describe the process and the results of implementing your product from their own perspective from research, through design processes to works completion. Future customers will react well to this because they’ll want to achieve similar results.

3: Case studies demonstrate success

Case studies demonstrate how your product has been used successfully. Prospective customers care more about seeing how your product has been implemented than they care about hearing you talk about potential achievements.

In this way, case studies demonstrate success. They prove that you’re able to accomplish what you say you can do, based on real results and real stories, not just theories. Case studies provide your company credibility.

4: Case studies teach

A case study is designed to teach how your product has been implemented into an application. It shows how a customer has sought a solution for a particular problem, takes them on a journey to achieve their desired goal and the reasons why they chose your product or company over your competition.

Also there is another side to the case study. From a case study you can learn about your own business, your products and your customers. 

From the very beginning through to the very end, you have the opportunity to learn things about your product by getting a better idea about how your customers are actually using them. 

So, instead of trying to sell based on what you think is important, you can learn to sell based on what customers appreciate and how they are integrating what you sell.

5. Case study formats

Traditionally, a case study is produced in written format with images to complement but in today’s fast-paced, content hungry, social media world, they can also be produced in video format. Keep this in mind and the ways you want to use the case study when you go to produce them.

In summary, a case study is an invaluable part of the marketing toolbox and every company needs at least one and ideally several; each based in a different industry sector. 

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