Case studies are a great way to tell the world how valuable your products or services are. They go beyond simple testimonials by showing real-life examples of how you were able to satisfy your customer’s needs and help them accomplish their goals. With great case studies, you will be able to highlight your successes in a way that will make your ideal potential customer become your customer. The following are some tips on how to make your case studies a powerful asset in soliciting business.
1. Write About Someone Your Ideal Customer Can Relate To
Do you know who your ideal customer is? If it’s someone in the education industry, then make your case studies about your university customers. If it’s someone in the automobile industry, then make your case studies about auto parts and accessories manufacturers.
The goal is to ensure that once your ideal customer has read your case studies, they will feel:
- You are comfortable in their industry.
- You know their industry’s specific needs.
- You know how to give their industry targeted results.
Think about it on a smaller level, such as when you’re reading a how-to blog post. Most of them are geared toward average readers. But when you come across a how-to post specifically designed for your needs (such as online marketing for the healthcare industry), then you are more likely to understand and apply the information. The same goes with case studies – people who read about results attained in their industry will feel like the same products / services will work for them as well.
2. Tell the Story from Start to Finish
People enjoy reading a story. A great case study will allow someone to really get to know the customer in the case study including:
- Who is the sample customer and what do they do?
- What were the customer’s goals?
- What were the customer’s needs?
- How did you satisfy those needs and help the customer meet their goals?
A final thing you could do is simply follow up with the customer in the case study and update your case study a few months down the road to show how your products / services are continuing to have long term benefits for the customer. This would give readers the opportunity to see that your goal is not only to help with immediate needs, but also to ensure long term results.
3. Provide Easy to Read Formatting
No one really likes to read one huge chunk of text, no matter how interesting and informative it might be. Be sure to use good content formatting elements like you would with articles, blog posts, and copywriting on your website including:
- Bulleted lists
- Bolded & italicized text
In addition to providing great SEO value for your case studies page, these formatting elements will help your readers (especially those that like to skim) find the most important parts of your case study and get a great impression about what your business could do for them.
4. Include Real Numbers
Have you ever read case studies where a business states that they “doubled traffic” for the customer in their case study and wondered if that meant they went from 100 to 200 visits or 10,000 to 20,000 visits? Certain ways of displaying numbers can have an ambiguous meaning. You will want your case study to be as clear as day. So instead of just saying you doubled their traffic, show them real numbers and (if possible) real proof.
Of course, remember that not everyone is as familiar with the technology as you are, so be sure to highlight what they should be noticing.
This way, the reader can see where the customer began and where the customer ended up with your help. They can see real, tangible results. Plus having the picture proof can help the reader envision exactly what you might do for them, making the case study that much more powerful.
5. Talk Specific Strategy
So you doubled a website’s traffic or sales, right? How did you do it? This is where you sell your products or services simply by saying which ones you used and how they led to the desired result. You shouldn’t just say “our online marketing services led to these results.” Instead, you should say “it was a combination of a three-month dedicated social media campaign focusing on Facebook & YouTube and five months of link building that led to an increase in rankings plus brand exposure that led to these results.”
6. Try Different Formats
While people like stories, case studies do not have to be fit into story form every time. You could try different types of case studies, such as an interview format where you have your clients answer the same questions mentioned earlier about what they do, their needs, their goals, and how you met them. Quoting your customer in their own words will make the case study even more relatable to your ideal customer than you telling the story.
7. Appeal to Different Types of Learners
While some people enjoy reading, others may prefer audio, video, or visual representation of your case study. So consider taking your text-based case studies and re-purposing the content as:
- A podcast
- A YouTube video
- Or even an infographic (such as the one below)
The bonus with YouTube videos and infographics is that they are easy to share. This means that your case study may go further than just your own site, leading to more of your potential customers finding out how they could benefit from your products or services.
8. Make Them Easy to Find
What’s the point of having great case studies if no one will ever read them? Be sure that your case studies are organized and easy to find. Some great examples of how to do this include the following:
Amazon Web Services
Microsoft’s Business Hub
Have any case study best practice tips or examples of case studies you have enjoyed? Please share them in the comments!
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About the Author: Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, blogger, and social media enthusiast. Her blog Kikolani focuses on blog marketing, including social networking strategies and blogging tips.
So you finally landed the Business Analyst interview you’ve worked so hard for? Lucky you. This post contains some tips to help you prepare for the big day. I've also included some tips you can apply if you find yourself in an assessment centre-like setting.
1. Think through all the Business Analyst competencies, as specified by IIBA, and prepare scenarios where you have exhibited these competencies. In answering competency-based questions, don't forget to use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action and Result) technique to compose your response.
- Analytical thinking & Problem-solving - Interviewers may look for scenarios where you have demonstrated creative thinking, decision-making, learning, problem solving and systems thinking. In particular, prepare to answer competency-based questions such as: Tell me about a time when you had to make a difficult decision, Tell me about a time when you suggested something innovative, Describe a time you solved a difficult problem or describe a time you faced a difficult challenge and what you learnt from it.
- Behavioural Characteristics - You may be assessed based on your ethics, trustworthiness and personal organization. Be able to define what ethics means to you and identify a scenario from your experience when you did something ethical or made a decision based on your ethics.
- Business Knowledge - The interviewer may assess your knowledge of business principles and practices, industry knowledge, organization knowledge and solution knowledge. Take the time to do some initial research on the industry you've applied to as well as the organization itself. Doing this research will help you understand some of the business problems they face, and help you think of possible solutions and a business strategy that could apply to them (especially when you're presented with a case study). Also, learn about the typical technological solutions/software that may help the organization in performing its day-to-day operations.
- Software Knowledge - The interviewer may assess your understanding of general purpose software applications and specialized software applications (modelling/diagramming tools). Business analysts should be able to draw UML diagrams and business process models with relative ease. Get some practice in this area for when you're presented with a case study that requires modelling.
- Interaction -The interviewer may examine your facilitation, negotiation, leadership and teamwork skills. If you find yourself in an assessment centre, these are some of the skills that are typically assessed. Be prepared to show these skills as the assessors will be on the look-out for them.
- Communication - You may also be assessed based on your proficiency in oral communication, teaching and written communication. Some organizations require that you deliver a presentation. This is your chance to show how good your communication skills are. If you're asked to present the findings of your case study, here's 6 Practical Tips for Giving a Great Presentation.
In addition to thinking up scenarios from your background, think of relevant BA techniques you can use to prove one or more of these competencies, where applicable. These techniques will help you demonstrate some of the above competencies if you're presented with a case study.
2. Prepare to answer case study questions and present your findings - Case studies are usually designed to examine your problem-solving and analytical skills. So, prepare to draw diagrams or mockups (if the case study is based on analysis tasks), and use relevant techniques to show the interviewer how proficient you are in the art of analysis.
While presenting your case study results, the interviewer may press for more information. He may do this to challenge you, alter your thinking or test your position. You'll need to decipher which one is happening and respond accordingly.
In some cases, you might be presented with a case study that requires you to come up with strategy recommendations or solutions to business problems. Case study analysis in this case, can become a breeze if you have a framework to draw on. Popular analysis frameworks like SWOT, BCG Matrix and the like can come in handy.
3. If you don’t remember anything else, remember to be confident – I know it’s easier said than done, given the overwhelming anxiety you may experience on the day. Confidence is, however, one of the guaranteed ways to get your interviewer's attention and respect. However, remember there’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance so don't cross that line.