How to Write a Good Case Study (Even If You’re A Lousy Writer)

by John McIntyre

In today’s post, you’ll discover exactly how to write a good case study… even if you’re a lousy writer. This is a guest post by Ty Brown.

Here’s a little secret when it comes to writing case studies that many marketers don’t know. Your average client is a smart person. But he or she has little to no idea what the success process looks like with the product or service they’re looking to purchase from you.

That may seem like an incongruent statement.

But let me give you some examples:

The personal trainer

Her client thinks in terms of problems that need to be solved. The inner dialogue of that client may include phrases like ‘I need to lose 10 lbs’ or ‘I’m tired of this cellulite on my legs’ or ‘My pants are fitting tighter’.

THOSE are the problems that the person already has in their mind.

But if you’re talking to the personal trainer HER inner dialogue about that person’s problems are going to include phrases like ‘she has no impulse control with her eating after 8pm’ or ‘her ratio of carbs to protein is WAY off and it’s not allowing her to burn fat’ or ‘her heart rate isn’t getting high enough to burn fat during her cardio workouts’.

Both client and trainer are VERY accurate with identifying the problem. But it leads to another problem, a problem you may be dealing with. More on that in a second.

The car salesman

His client is thinking of problems that need to be solved, also. Inner dialogue may include phrases like ‘I’m so sick of taking my car to the shop, I need a new car’ or ‘I saw the new F150…I can afford it, I’m not going to be able to think of anything else until I go buy it’ or ‘I can’t believe my daughter is 16. I’m not going to spend much on her car, but it has to be safe’.

The salesman, though, sees that person’s problems differently. His inner dialogue includes terms like ‘no way does this guy qualify for this vehicle’ or ‘you want to get a $50,000 vehicle with nothing down?’

Now, I don’t need to spend time convincing you that the sales process is all about solving problems.

But the problem is that salesperson and client typically are thinking of different problems. Neither of them are wrong, but only one person in this relationship is the expert.

The client is thinking of their immediate problems that are causing them pain. They can only express their pain with words that make sense on the level they understand their pain.

The woman needing the help getting rid of fat doesn’t understand her problem on a metabolic, micro-nutrient level. So she can’t talk on that level. She can only talk with words that are easily accessible to her understanding of the problem.

The same with the guy buying the car. He doesn’t know anything about finance and available inventory and the rest. He just knows how to express his pain based on his immediate problem and the words he knows to describe them.

But the salesperson and marketer is right…the more the prospect understands about the problem the more likely they are to buy.

This is one of the reasons why many salespeople fail.

They keep talking in their language while their prospect talks with their language. The two end up round and round speaking about the same thing while not understanding each other.

You can find a salesperson caught in this trap when they are prone to bad mouth their prospects. You show me a salesperson or marketer that talks about how dumb their prospects are, about how they lie, how they can’t make decisions, and about their other problems and I’ll show you someone who is speaking a different language than their prospect.

But what if there was an interpreter? What if there was a way to easily speak your prospect’s language? A way that they could completely understand the deeper concepts that help drive a purchasing decision?

There is.

The answer lies with case studies.

Even more specifically, with video case studies.

Let me tell you a bit about how we use them in our business.

I own a seven figure dog training business in Salt Lake City. Video case studies make up a big part of what we do to educate our clients.

You see, our clients are smart. They know they’ve got a problem with their dog and they can explain it. But they aren’t experts. So they explain it in ways that don’t frame the whole picture.

They think they have a dog with aggression problems. And they do. But what they REALLY have is a dog with a leadership problem, a mindset problem.

And that’s where the video case study comes in.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, a video is worth exponentially more.

Especially a long video.

You heard that right, we break the rules. Every video guru has always taught me to keep videos short and sweet. 2-5 minutes is the right amount, I’m told. And we make videos like that. They’re definitely helpful.

But when we put out a video case study we go all out. I’m talking videos of 30-40 minutes. And, you know what else?

We hold nothing back.

Our case studies show the entire process that one of our client’s dogs goes through from beginning to end. We show the ups and we show the downs. Other dog trainers who have seen what we do call us crazy for giving away the farm.

They think that if we show exactly what we do that someone will just do it.

I’m sure that’s a possibility.

But here’s what putting your whole process out there in a case study does:

  • It disqualifies people that aren’t right for your service so they never waste your time on the phone or in email. When you show what you do that will resonate with some. And it will repel others.
  • It allows people to get to know you and your team on a personal level. It’s no secret that people want to do business with those they like. Putting your process out there with case studies will allow people to know you before they ever do business with you. I can’t tell you how valuable it is to have people already liking and trusting you before you ever get on the phone.
  • It makes you the expert. Everyone can say they’re the expert. Showing the processes that make you the expert leave no doubt that you are.
  • People will consume more content in case study form. Try putting something in advertising format and people will click away. But the beauty of the case study is they see themselves in it. They’re dealing with the same problem. As they consume 10, 20, 30 minutes and more of you solving problems for people exactly like them they become interested. Not bored.

When all of these benefits combine you’ll find people much more likely to HIRE you to produce the same result than they are to go try it on their own.

Once you create the case study what do you do with it?

The opportunities are endless, of course, but there are a few things I like to do to leverage those case studies:

  • Put it on your site. A helpful tab names Case Studies is great for people to find them organically.
  • Send them to your list. We’re always trying to sell to our list, right? Keep proving how awesome you are at solving problems with case studies and you’ll sell more.
  • Leverage the power of social media. Facebook has a neat feature. I’ll run a case study and pay to boost it to my target market. Then Facebook allows you to create a list of people who have watched the video for a few seconds or more. I target people who have watched the video at least 25% of the way and then I’ll send them an ad to a related offer. They are a far warmer lead when they’ve already seen some of your great stuff.

Tell your story with video and you’ll be surprised at how leveraged your business becomes.

For more on story-telling, check out The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert.

This guest post on how to write a good case study is by Ty Brown. Ty tripled his business in two and a half years using stories and storytelling. Now he speaks, writes,  coaches, and consults with other businesses on how to do the same. Find him at Ty the Speaker.

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