By: Michael Cooney
Here’s a simple fact: If you’re not using Case Studies to boost your bottom line, you’re leaving money on the table. Easy money.
How is that? Because as we’ve discussed in this column before, trust is the single most important element in a person’s buying decision. Without trust, other claims of quality or low price or great selection don’t mean much. And when it comes to building trust that leads to purchases, nothing beats the Case Study.
First, you should know there are two common types, plus a third hybrid type I’ll illustrate later.
One is the hypothetical Case Study. In this type, a hypothetical case is examined based on the logical results others may expect to gain from using your product or service. You create an assumption, and then proceed to build the case that if your assumption is correct, then the reader should benefit in such-and-such a way.
The other common and more desirable type is the real life Case Study. In its most simple form a real life Case Study is a greatly expanded testimonial. You’ve perhaps used testimonials in your own business to build a sense of trust in your offering. And well you should. Testimonials work because they are an independent third-party reference.
When you tell others how great your product or service is, they will naturally be skeptical because you have something to gain by saying so. But when a third party tells others how great you are, that’s a different story. The reader is far more likely to believe those claims because the person offering them has no reason to say it if it weren’t true. It is that aspect that boosts your credibility.
In a real life Case Study, then, the basis for it is a testimonial—or several testimonials. The goal you have is to develop a compelling story beginning with the problem, what options were considered, then showing through real life examples how your product or service solved the problem, and what the end result was.
Studies have shown, by the way, that shorter Case Studies of around 700 to 800 words (about the length of this article) have more impact than longer ones.
As a marketing strategist and direct response copywriter, I’m called upon to analyze existing marketing operations (or create new ones), expose weaknesses, develop a plan to boost response in those areas, and help implement the changes and additions.
In that consulting arena, I often use a Case Study from my own files to illustrate the value of bringing in objective, outside expertise. In it, I explain how one client, a manufacturer of home gym equipment sold through infomercials, was stuck in a sales rut, operating at a slight loss each month.
After thoroughly analyzing their marketing and sales operation, they agreed to a new plan. In it, I actually refocused their infomercials and sales literature away from the product, and onto the “talent” who prospective customers saw on TV. I did that because once the audience trusted the spokesperson and his claims, the machinery became secondary. While that may run against the commonly accepted approach, it gets back to the issue of trust, and how powerful that is.
The commercials (2 – 3 minute “buy now” sales pitches contained within the infomercial) along with the brochure and sales letter were completely re-written to reflect not so much the machine, but what the spokesperson said about the machine. A subtle but important difference.
The result? Sales quickly quadrupled without increasing the air time purchases. A letter stating these results is a valued part of my testimonials.
Now for the third, or hybrid, type of Case Study. In it, a real life example is explained in detail, but without providing an actual testimonial. These, too, can be highly effective. In my own example above, since I did not include the actual testimonial, it is a mini-example of the hybrid form.
Any type of Case Study—the hypothetical, real life, or hybrid, can be extremely powerful in helping prospects understand how your product or service can help solve a pressing problem. Your job is to present it as a compelling story, told in a straightforward manner without “hype” or an avalanche of adjectives like “amazing” and “incredible.”
If you can present a true story effectively in the form of a Case Study, you can use it in most of your marketing avenues to gain the trust of your prospects and boost sales.
Global Brand Development