If you opt for a white paper filled with technical details, you will reach a small audience of scientists and engineers. But that doesn’t help you sell your product or service to the rest of the decision makers at a company, who might know a lot about running the business but not much about the technical side.
That’s where the case study comes in. It tells the story of a real business that achieved an exceptional result through using your product or service. It takes the reader step-by-step through how you helped that business successfully execute a project or tackle a specific problem, meeting any challenges as they arose.
Rather than simply telling customers about your expertise, by using a case study you can prove it to them. You can use it to focus the customer on your special competencies or to highlight a product that you just put on the market.
An effective case study is written so that it is easily understood by a broad range of readers with an interest in the subject. It engages all of the management at a company, regardless of department, while still reaching the scientists and engineers.
In other words, when a case study is done right, it reaches everyone at an organization who might influence the decision to buy your product or service. By the time they’ve finished reading, they should have some very clear reasons for doing business with you.
To get that result, a case study must strike the right balance between technical detail and storytelling. Without technical detail, the case study fails to convince. Without a story, the case study will never get read, because readers want to engage with the human side of your product or service as well as learning about the technical specs.
Achieve that balance, and your case study will be the ideal marketing vehicle for your technology company. It allows you to explain the technology in the most effective way possible: by showing the practical benefits it brought to one of your customers. Readers will come to understand enough of the technology to appreciate what your company can do for them. They will recognize that it was your competency that made all the difference to your customer’s success—and that it could bring success to their company, too.
Not all case studies succeed, however. When they fail, it’s often because the balance between technical detail and storytelling is off. The technology ends up in a vacuum, never tied to the details of the story. Or the technology is neglected, so the case study fails to be convincing.
Writing a compelling case study is never easy. It calls for a writer who is willing to learn about the technology in order to understand the basics. The writer must then be skilled enough to explain the technology—not in a dumbed-down way but so that it can be grasped by ordinary readers who are not specialists yet know something about the subject.
Finally, the writer needs to synthesize the technology with the story. How did the project start, or what problem did the customer need to solve? What was the customer’s goal? How did your company help them reach that goal? What challenges arose along the way? How did you meet those challenges? How did the story end?
By answering those questions, a case study puts your company in a positive light. You get to tell your story exactly as you’d like it to be told.
Post the study on your company’s website; if it’s good, it’s something visitors will actually read. And it just may be the push they need to choose your product or service.
As quality content on corporate sites becomes increasingly important, every company should take advantage of the case study. In the right hands, it is the perfect tool for showing potential customers why your product or service is the best option for their businesses.
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