A man toots his own horn

The Benefits of Case Studies (and Other Success Stories)


Potential customers don’t believe you.


They’ve spent their lives hearing companies toot their own horns, and too often, the reality has fallen short of the marketing. When you as a company try to convince them how great you are – Better than the competition! Faster! More responsive! – they’re understandably skeptical.

So let your satisfied customers show potential customers just how great you are. Let them be your brand evangelists. That’s the beauty of success stories. They provide a compelling way to establish credibility in prospects’ minds with third-party evidence.

The Success Rate of Success Stories

A success story – such as a two-page case study, or a shorter case history or a customer profile – is a story about your client. It presents the client’s problem or challenge, and how it used your product, services or solutions to solve the issue. It also shows why they chose you to handle the problem.

Just think about how, when you’re thinking about buying a television or trying a new restaurant, you go online to review what others have said about that Vizio or eatery. In the same way, case studies allow for customer reviews of your products or services. Because a success story tells a story, you’re able to show the reader the benefits and value, rather than tell them. And it’s compelling. Stories stick in the reader’s mind so much better than facts do.

Success Stories as Educational Literature

Just as importantly, success stories provide critical education about how solutions actually work in real environments. They let your potential customers picture themselves in your client’s shoes and see exactly how you can help them. That can be powerful.

All good businesses know who their potential clients are. To make case studies most effective, they should be targeted at specific segments of your client base. Pick a client who has problems similar to those your prospects in that same segment are facing, so they see a solution to a problem that they actually have. One general-use case study won’t be as effective as a case study aimed at the medium-sized healthcare solutions company that’s looking to improve its website to bring in more business. A series of case studies, each with a different tightly focused target, can be especially effective.

Where and How to Use Success Stories

Success stories can be used in multiple ways:

  • For attracting people to your website (Put a blurb from the success story and link to it right on your home page!)
  • To incorporate SEO keywords into your website
  • In the sales field
  • To train your employees about how your products/solutions/services benefit clients
  • In PowerPoint presentations
  • In newsletters
  • At events
  • In direct marketing
  • In a press release or as a story pitch to an editor
  • In annual reports
  • In grant proposals
  • In fundraising brochures
  • In advertisements
  • Pretty much anywhere. Because everyone loves a good story

Case studies simply make the buying process easier for your prospective clients by giving them a third-party example of how it will specifically benefit them. You’re not preaching or even talking about yourself. You’re showing them a true story that they can relate to.

Now they can move on to those useful spec sheets you produce. But first, you rope them in with your engaging success story.

(NOTE: This post originally written [by me] for and published by my partner, GlobalWrites, on May 24, 2014.)