Client case studies are one of the most important elements to master as you grow as an agency.
After all, social proof is a key aspect of any agency growth strategy.
Seeing as you’ve just delivered the desired results for your clients, you’ll want to capitalize on the opportunity to share the success story with other prospective clients.
Clients who can relate and understand how their project might work with your agency.
Case studies add credibility to you as an agency, make it easier to close deals, and are great for finding quotes for social proof marketing assets. A few strong case studies in a specific niche or service can take an agency to new (authoritative) heights.
What’s the secret to creating compelling, amazing, and credible case studies?
Don’t just come strolling in with your eyes closed — walk into every project with a thoughtful strategy that will help you to best capture the work you’re doing with your clients.
Table of Contents:
- The 6 Rules For Creating Compelling Case Studies
- Add Case Studies and a Share-Your-Work Clause in Contracts
- Have a Case Study Theme
- Always Ask For Permission Before Publishing a Case Study
- Ask For a Testimonial to Use in Your Case Study
- Gather Several Different Perspectives For a Case Study
- Build Out a Process for Creating Case Studies
If you only think about case studies in hindsight, you could lose the opportunity to bolster your social proof portfolio altogether.
As a general rule, before we dive into the 6 rules for creating compelling client case studies, it’s essential that you emphasize quality over quantity when it comes to building up social proof.
You could have 20 subpar and rushed case studies on your website but they won’t do nearly as well as three in-depth ones that really pack a punch.
The 6 Rules for Creating Compelling Client Case Studies:
1. Add Case Studies and a Share-Your-Work Clause in Contracts
We started adding a notation in our contracts 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.
So, if the client has specific instructions that won’t allow us to showcase work, this is a great place to establish it.
This accomplished two things:
- Helped us get the permission to share work early on — which we would ask additional permission for before publishing a single piece — down in writing.
- 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. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t take responsible measures to help protect myself and my team from any potential dangers lurking around the corner.
What could go wrong, you ask? Two things:
- 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.
- 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 particular success you want to emphasize and what the results are for the business and 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. Next, show the transformation from struggling in this specific way, what you did to fix it, and the results of this change.
Finally, paint a picture for the prospect about how you can do the same thing for them.
Your theme is limited to your imagination. A compelling case study isn’t just an event timeline of the work you completed—it’s a story that is moving enough to persuade future businesses 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 to look 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 of the story you want to tell.
3. Always Ask For Permission Before Publishing a Case Study
This is the cardinal rule of case studies: always get explicit permissions from clients.
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 Google searches!
The last thing you want is for your clients to explore your website and 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 way, especially by finding it on a search engine by accident.
This is a great way to cause havoc.
Be Sure to Frame the Case Study in a Positive Light
Your case study should never be “our client absolutely sucked, and we rescued them!”
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 will have a great impact on the permission you receive and how you’re continuing your relationship with your clients.
Reframe Your Request
Instead of simply just saying:
“We want to do a case study. Is that okay with you?”
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. But, 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 job 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 to buy > This is how the agency addressed the concern > This is how happy I am with the 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 has their own concerns with purchasing. You can overcome specific purchasing objections with the smart use of testimonials.
Outlandish testimonials are a dime a dozen in the online world, 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, the name of the person, the company, and their role at the company. Again, it reduces the chances a prospect thinks the whole story is 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 testimonials via one of these two mediums.
For example, having a video on your website of a client looking into a camera is a great way to connect 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 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.
We’ve streamlined our testimonial and info gathering by sending clients exit surveys when we complete a project. But, of course, 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 Today!
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 to start creating compelling ones today!