Case studies (or applications stories) are as relevant today as they ever were, even if there aren’t anything like the same number of third-party places to publish them. On your own website, case studies are simply the best way to quickly demonstrate you’re a serious player. I don’t understand why businesses don’t have them front and centre.
Some people worry that the case study they want to describe is at a customer which isn’t very glamorous. Or even worse, at a customer which can’t be named. If you see that as a problem, consider turning the case study into a ‘how to’ article, where the application is the focus. Replace ‘How Acme Engineering used our Blue Widgets to do something’ with ‘ How to achieve something using our Blue Widgets’. This can easily broaden the article’s appeal too.
If you can, do quote names. Prospects relate to people. If I’m the Chief Widget Manager at my company, I might be very interested to see how the Chief Widget Manager at another company was able to sort out an issue that we all have.
Tell a good story. Be familiar with the Three Act Structure. It’s been working for two thousand years. Every great story needs a hero, so be clear: was the customer the hero here, was it the supplier, or was it the product? They can all work.
Write a headline that does justice to the story. You’re not writing an announcement for the financial press, like “The Blue Widget Company Announces Installation Of A £50,000 Blue Widget Extractor At Acme Engineering plc”. You’re writing about how the customer used your stuff and achieved some other stuff.
Returning to the beginning, don’t forget to publicise your case studies wherever you can on your website. I mentioned the home page, but they can – and should – be linked to from product pages and even the ‘about us’ page. Visitors don’t come looking for case studies: they’re one thing you absolutely must draw attention to. If you’ve got a testimonial quote as part of the case study, think about places where you can use that to link to the story.