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6 Rules for Creating Powerful Client Case Studies

Client case studies are one of the most important elements to master as you grow as an agency. 

If you've done a great job delivering delight to your clients, you want to have the opportunity to share the success story with other prospective clients who can relate and understand how their project might work with your agency. 

Case studies add credibility to you as an agency, makes it easier to close sales, and great for finding quotes to add as social proof on marketing materials. A few strong case studies in a specific niche or service can take help an agency build a 

The secret to creating compelling, amazing, and wooing case studies? It's much like anything else. Don't just come strolling in with your eyes closed—walk into every client engagement with a thoughtful strategy that will allow you to best capture the work you're doing with your clients.



If you're trying to think of ways to do this in hindsight, you may risk losing the opportunity altogether. 

Also, as a general rule before we dive into 6 rules for creating compelling client case studies. Think of these in terms of quality over quantity. 

  • You can have 10 case studies that are crappy, but they won't do nearly as well as 3 concentrated ones that pack quite a punch

Now, let's dive into the 6 rules for creating compelling client case studies. 

1. Add Case Studies and a Share Your Work Clause in Contracts

One thing we started doing was adding a notation in the contract about showcasing client work at a later time and date. 

We don't do this to be sneaky. We do this to get everything out there right from the beginning of the relationship. If the client has specific instructions that won't allow us from showcasing work, this is a great place to establish it. 

This accomplished two things:

  1. Helped us get the permission to share work early on, which we would of course ask additional permission for doing so before publishing a single piece, down in writing
  2. Opened their mind to the fact that we like to do case studies and that one may be coming down the pipeline 

As you know, around here we're all about hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. 

You want to be actively collecting case studies. It needs to be embedded in your processes. It's a powerful sales tool that can make you stand out from the competition and it's important you take the time to create and then leverage it.

Hope for the Best—Prepare for the Worst

I bring the biggest smile and the most positive attitude in the world into every, single client relationship. That doesn't mean that I don't take responsible measures to help protect myself and my team from any potential dangers that could be lurking in the future. 

What could possibly go wrong, you may ask? Two things:

  1. Imagine somewhere down the line you write a book and mention a client experience that you had permission to utilize. Let's say that client decides to sue you for some reason. If you don't have written permission in your contract, it's going to be hard to defend yourself. 
  2. In a similar instance, imagine you chatted about using a case study with a client. They verbally agree and later verbally change their mind. Again, you have no documentation to defend yourself in case things go sour—and no, email proof isn't quite enough. 

2. Have a Case Study Theme

When you're approaching a client to construct a case study, be sure to have a specific direction in mind for it.

You don't want to roll in there without a plan. You want to know what the particular success you want to emphasize and what the results are for the business as well as have testimonials from individuals most impacted by the results.

Turn Your Case Study into a Story

This could be as simple as how you helped them hop over a huge hurdle that no one thought was possible, or how together your teams formed a super force that did amazing things. 

You want to gather the information from the client and turn it into a compelling story from prospects, with your client and your agency as the stars. Show the transformation from struggling in this specific way, what you did to fix it, and the results fo this change. Paint a picture for the prospect about how you can do the exact same thing for them.

Your theme is limited to your imagination. A compelling case study isn't just an event time line of the work you completed—it's a story that is moving enough to persuade future business to work with you. 

You want to take a prospect reading your case study on a journey.

The theme will help you construct the best possible story, and it will help your clients formulate their thoughts. We all know how intimidating it can be looking at the blinking cursor on the screen. You can help your clients succeed by giving them that theme along with some examples. You want to give them an outline on the story you want to tell.


3. Always Ask Permission before Publishing a Case Study

This rule is one that must be followed—always. 


Ask permission before publishing a case study. Yes, we've put it in the contract, but that was to open the original conversation and get it down in writing. 

You Don't Want Unblessed Work Getting Found (especially via a Google search!) 

The last thing you want is for your clients to be exploring your website and to find a case study about them that they didn't sign off on. This is just bad business behavior here. 

In some instances, your case study could appear on the first or top of the second page of search engines related to your client's organization name. Again, you don't want them to be surprised in any which way, especially by finding it on a search engine without giving you the go ahead. This is a great way to cause havoc. 

Be Sure to Frame the Case Study in a Good Light

Your case study should never be "Our client absolutely sucked, and we rocked!" 


Rather, it should be something like, "Our client was awesome. They are talented in (insert areas here). Together we partnered to collaborate to create some amazing results." 

The way you position the case study is going to have a great impact on the permission you receive and the way that you're continuing your relationship with your clients. 

Frame the Way You Ask

Instead of simply just saying, "We want to do a case study. Are you in?" Position it along the lines of, "We did some awesome work. Mind if we brag about our combined story and the amazing results we both achieved?" At the end of the day, it takes your marketing work and the quality of the team and product of the client to really have success. Showing how this happened and came together does a lot to build positive vibes with the client.


4. Ask for a Testimonial to Use in Your Case Study

Don't just ask for permission to brag about your work together—ask for a testimonial as well. 

With your theme already in mind, you can help your client formulate the most concentrated thought possible, which will take your case study to the next level. 

The Key to Amazing Testimonials

The best way to get the testimonials you want is to provide direction for what you're looking for. Again, there's nothing worse than staring at the blinking cursor on a blank screen and trying to come up with something out of the blue. 

Heck—we as agencies struggle enough with creating something out of nothing! Our clients will have the same trouble as well. It's our jobs to make it as easy as possible for them to put together an amazing testimonial. 

To do this, send over examples of the ideal testImonial. This will give them something to work with. You once again want to use a simple formula in this. Here's an easy formula with a testimonial.

This is what I bought. > This is why I was hesitant buying. > This is how agency addressed concern. > This is how happy I am with results.

You want the client to be "realistic" too. You don't want non-stop praise and the best, but have an honest assessment of your work. This is why including a "why they were hesitant", helps in the process. A prospect is going to be reading this case study and have their own concerns with purchasing. You can overcome specific purchasing objections with the smart use of testimonials. In the online world, outlandish testimonials are a dime a dozen, so collecting testimonials that address objections increases trust.

In a testimonial, you also want to make sure it comes across as "real". This means having a headshot, name of the person, company, and their role at the company. It reduces chances a prospect thinks it was made up.

Don't Neglect Audio and Video in Case Studies

Also, don't forget the power of audio and video. For some clients, it might also be easier for them to give you their best testimonial via one of these two mediums. Having a video on your website of a client looking into a camera is a great way to build a connection with the prospect. It's not just a picture and a face, but they can see this is another business person just like themselves, who used your services and is now experiencing all the benefits.


5. Gather Several Different Perspectives for a Case Study

Just like we want to involve diverse members of the client's team—sales, marketing, fulfillment, leadership, etc.—during the GamePlan strategy meetings, we want to bring in a variety of perspectives to a case study.

This is all about telling a story, and bringing in multiple perspectives from the client side will help you tell the most compelling story possible that prospective clients will relate to. 

You want the president sharing about the outrageous success his business is now having. The marketing director about how easy your team was to work with and execute a campaign with. 


6. Build Out a Process for Creating Case Studies

At DoInbound, we're all about building easily repeatable processes that save you time and help you do your best work. The way you go about doing case studies should be no different. 

You want it to be seamless and embedded into your client engagements. It's easy to have a marketing success and forget about it, or have it in your mind but never shared. Taking the time to do that can boost your sales and impress prospects. It's another way to use current clients you generate more business.

One way we've streamlined our testimonial and info gathering has been by sending clients exit surveys when we complete a project. This is something they expect to receive and is something we always send when the client has the experience fresh on their minds. 



Start Creating Compelling Case Studies!

Case studies are powerful weapons in your sales arsenal. They can help you tell the story of what you do and how you work with your clients. They can mean the difference between a new client or a lost opportunity so start creating compelling ones today!



Topics: Processes, Marketing

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