Stand Out From Your Competitors: How To Effectively Present a Case Study

As a vendor, part of your job is to represent yourself well in front of prospects, customers, partners, media, investors and analysts. In nearly all of those cases, you’ll be expected to tell a case study. In the space that I cover there are over 70 vendors, and you really will need to stand out of the crowd, telling an effective, memorable case study can really help.


How To Tell An Effective Case Study
First of all, think of a case study as telling a story: start with a start, end with the end, there is a plot, characters, opposition and an ending with a resolution. Use diagrams or slides or screenshots to supplement the discussion.

1) Define the Objective
Define what the problem or challenge that your client was trying to overcome, express why the marketing campaign was needed in the first place. Examples of an objective could be: the need to connect with a certain audience/market, raise awareness for a product, glean insight into an existing market, or directly impact sales. Ideally the less objectives you have, the more focused your campaign will be, so try to be succinct.

2) Tell what you actually did
In detail, outline the steps that you did for your client, include the features, services, and deployment. Give specifics: reaching to acommunity, endorsing a contest, deploying ads, or launching a series of podcasts. Of course, each activity should align with your objective(s).

3) Define how you overcame challenges
Many vendors are afraid to show their weaknesses, instead be forthcoming, no campaign ever goes perfect or the client would have done it themselves. Talk about challenges and how you overcame them or what you learned. Demonstrate your flexibility and ability to be a quick savvy marketer.

4) Tell what the costs were
In some cases (such as an Analyst briefing) it can be to your advantage to discuss costs and pricing, because: 1) Analyst can guide clients to the appropriate vendor if they have price considerations 2) The Analyst likely has pricing of your marketplace and if you ask, they may tell you how you compare to market pricing (of course, never giving away confidential information). This can be on or off the record, and they will respect your wishes. Still uncomfortable? use ranges of prices or price bands.

5) Measurable results
This is the clincher. Provide detailed analysis and results on what you accomplished. Use numbers. For example: 100,000 new registered users were gained and 30% of them were very active resulting in an average duration of 20 minutes where 1500 of them talked about the campaign, click through to a microsite, or interacted with a game, etc.

I hope these tips help you, it will certainly help me understand why you’re the worthy company you are. I’ve tagged this ‘analyst’ with my other posts related to this topic, be sure to cruise through those. (like What an Effective Analyst Briefing is Like)

  • http://scabr.com Scabr

    Useful post,but i think that list contains more than 5 items

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Yeah, you’ve observant. I felt 5 was a good number of guidelines. There’s quite a few details for each of those items, I didn’t want to go too deep into it, but rather provide highlights.

  • http://www.mediatrust.com christopher smith

    Good list, but I am curious as to how you ask clients to really become transparent with their results. Too often when I am evaluating a solution and determining if it is truly a case study that will have merit, I have to be able to show measurable results that are meaningful to my client base. Citing a “27% lift in x” is much less convincing that being able to state that “customer acquisitions in Q4 increased from 23k to 46k” Hard numbers are honest, verifiable, and effective. Yet customers of vendors that do produce case studies have a responsibility protect a client’s business while still growing their own.

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Christopher

    Thanks. The numbers don’t have to be revenue numbers, but the results of the campaign. For example and increase of activity in the campaign is what I want to see.

  • http://brendancooper.com Brendan Cooper

    Standing out from the crowd is definitely the trick, isn’t it? I written some nice case studies that include ‘the big figure’ in the title, not necessarily just cost-wise, as this often grabs attention. Also it’s important to make sure case studies fit the client. If they’re after cost-effectiveness, include costs. If they want quality support, don’t mention costs.

  • http://www.lening-geld-lenen.nl/ Webmaster Lening Geld Lenen

    Well, nice 5 tips. But the cost-aspect is not always useful. Sometimes client doesn’t wanna share or you don’t for some reason :)

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  • http://www.thewavingcat.com Peter Bihr

    Jeremiah,

    How do you find the time to share all those insights, and give back to the community as much? Do you ever sleep? ;)

    Anyway, this is great stuff. Keep up the good work, and thanks for sharing!

    P.

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Peter

    Passsion!

  • http://technotribe.com Randy

    People remember stories, and telling a story well will help people remember you. The elements defined here are really good – now practice putting this into a compelling (not long) narrative and you will have a competitive advantage.

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  • http://google prakash

    hey thanks 4 five effective tools

  • http://tycoon-cashflow.blogpspot.com/ tycoon cashflow

    Thanks for this. What is the succesrate for this?

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  • H

    noticed a typo – succint should read succinct

  • H

    Thanks been a very helpful read to implement!!

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Hi thanks, will correct.