Project case studies are required high-demand marketing assets for professional service providers. They're essential resources for your prospects because they provide evidence to support your positioning at every stage of the buyer's journey.
Here's how it works. As your prospect interacts with your content, such as descriptions of your services or capabilities, or blog articles which demonstrate your insights, relevant case studies and use-cases, provide the proof of your competencies, but that's not all.
The goal of positioning is to articulate the difference between your brand and that of likely alternatives. Your products, services, and capabilities, alone, won't set you apart. Remember that your competitors offer comparable services and the gap between solutions that you and those of your competitors might be hard to find. The difference between being "on the shortlist" and discussing an opportunity lies making your solutions tangible, compelling and personal.
Case Studies don't just provide evidence. They help demonstrate how your solutions are relevant to the customer's problems, and they provide nuanced insights into not only what you do, but also, "how," and "why" you do what you do. From a branding perspective, your case studies, and project references provide the most significant opportunity to integrate your solutions, with real-world examples that demonstrate your approach and your process.
Today, we're going to take a look at how to conduct case study research and structure for projects, so that your content educates potential clients, supports the value of your, and express the significance of your company's service.
Before you start developing your case study content, you need to get a few critical details down -- the project or the (use case) and the client.
As far as your project or use-case goes, you will want to select projects that best highlight your problem-solving abilities, capture the attention of potential clients within the same niche, and demonstrate the methods by which your company helps minimize risk. Risk is involved when problems arise in the development of a project that cannot be overcome - such as technical problems, critical project timelines or budgeting. For most clients, the projects that require your services are "high-risk" endeavors, so minimizing their exposure to project failure due to cost or schedule overrides can set your firm apart from... the rest.
From a client perspective, you should try to prioritize clients that have recognized brands and segments that reflect your growth opportunities. You might also consider those that have enjoyed positive experiences which you can leverage customer feedback as quotes or testimonials. This allows you to incorporate the voice of your customer to express their values and priorities, as in what was important to them, in your marketing content.
The first thing you need to do is frame your project with the necessary context provides the reader information about what this project includes and what it doesn't. Typically you'll need to add the client, the project name, location, and key partners involved. For example, let's say you are developing part of a much bigger project: for example, the next phase of a construction project, the manufacturing process for a pharmaceutical, or the integration of a specific component or system of a wind farm. Most projects are complex endeavors that include an array of stages and elements.
The background of the case helps establish the significance or importance of the project to the client AND the end-users. A project or initiative that is of high strategic importance means that they took great care in selecting the partners and solutions that would help them deliver it. A project's significance to end-users means establishing the connection between the project and who it ultimately serves. For example, a new 400-bed hospital and the importance of what the access to health care means to the local community or a new school with security features that make it safer for local families.
Always ask the question...
Why does this project exist?
Every initiative is a problem to be solved. Let's use the word "problem" to incorporate a broad set of challenges that need to be overcome to complete the project successfully. If everything goes smoothly, there might not be much pain, but that doesn't mean that problems weren't encountered or solved along the way. Your problem includes the general scope of the project. The range might consist of the size of the project or the timeline, regulatory hurdles, technical challenges, or communication.
If you're an engineer, architect, or you provide technology or product for a built environment or components to a more extensive system, you're an integrator. Your expertise is realizing the successful delivery of the project. For example, the deliverable may be construction documents, but the results are achieved in the overall successful delivery and satisfaction of the project. When a significant initiative fails, everyone fails with it.
To tell the story of YOUR solution, you will incorporate the services that were utilized to address the challenges of the project. This is the part of your case study where you integrate your services and expand on *how* your services were applied. For example, explaining your proprietary processes, or expanding on the resources in your company that were utilized to deliver the results.
You know your processes inside and out, but they're not top of mind with your customer. They engaged you for the results and the journey to deliver those results might be overlooked or even completely invisible. Incorporate challenges that needed to be overcome, especially those that required additional problem-solving ingenuity. These are typically "normal," but also unforeseen problems that need to be diagnosed and resolved. In many cases, these are business problems. By demonstrating that you understand the financial ramifications of the problem, you can provide business solutions that your competitor might solve with engineering solutions.
What I'm getting at is a valuable insight about telling the story of your solutions. In most situations, more time and more money can be added to any project to solve technical problems. However, sometimes, a business-minded consultant can advise the client about restructuring the project or addressing the pros and cons of design decisions that will impact project cost or operational efficiency.
Think about the value of demonstrating how project changes will cost an additional, unplanned $500,000, but will save the company $10 Million over the next five years. Your above and beyond insights help propel you to the top of the short list.
Great case study examples find ways to incorporate "why" you deliver your services the way that you offer them. For example, you can integrate the principles that guide how you serve your customers or why your products and services were packaged and delivered in your specific way.
When you incorporate your values into your case study, you are demonstrating what you value and opening the door to the emotional reasoning that your customer selected you in the first place. When we understand what another person or company values, we gain comfort in understanding how they will approach working with us and dealing with the challenges that might come up in the process.
Reflect on the tangible, measurable figures that support the overall success of the project. Sometimes, these are takeaways that you will add in later, as your project lives in the real world and serves your client and the end-users. However; there's no need to limit the results on hard-facts. Perceptions are also important. You can describe the experience of your efforts. For example, you can incorporate how the project champions felt about the delivery of the project or how end users experience the final product.
Remember that your sales challenge is to differentiate your business from that of a likely competitor and it's unlikely that you're in a category of one. That means that your competitor is considering at least two other solution providers to work with. This is true for existing customers as well - they are vetting potential options to find out which one provides better value.
Don't wait until a project is complete. Develop and enrich your cases in stages, from the earliest point, until long after they are experienced and enjoyed.
REVX is a HubSpot certified strategic marketing partner. We help midsized B2B companies establish a competitive advantage through brand effectiveness, strengthened customer engagement and accelerated customer acquisition. Our mission is to work through our client-partners to help them create $1 billion of new revenue.