DISCLAIMER: Ryan Toth is no longer a StoryBrand Certified Guide. After over 6 years, he decided it was time to part ways. We’re still big fans, though!
Case studies are an incredible way to show your potential customers that you can help them win in whatever it is that you help them do, but they’re very easy to mess up.
So how do you create a case study? My name is Alexander Toth. I’m the CEO of Clear Brand. And I’m going to show you how to write a case study that you can add to your website to get results.
The first thing that most companies get wrong when they are creating a business case study for their website is that they think the case study is about them. So the study talks about how hard they worked. Here’s all of the things that they did for this particular client. Here’s what they thought would happen. Only to find that nobody cares.
The Power Of Case Studies
Your prospective customers are not on your landing page to make you feel good. They are there to find real-world examples and solutions to the problems they’re experiencing right now.
In the world of compelling stories, you need to present a case study that resonates with them. They shouldn’t blab on and on about your company, or you miss out on this huge opportunity to increase your revenue and, more importantly, to help more people win.
I’m going to walk you through the research process and key points you need to know to create a case study step-by-step. I’m also going to show you business case study examples from one of our past clients to show you how we created their customer stories in a way that got them results.
The first thing you’ve got to keep in mind is what action you want potential customers to take after they read your case study. If you’re just showing people this story and then that’s it, you’re missing out on revenue.
You want to orient your case study so that it moves your prospects toward that action.
If you want your visitors to click a link or schedule a call, then the content of your case study need to give them a reason to do so.
It should demonstrate the value you provide to your client, and it should do so in a way that avoids talking about your business as much as possible. That’s how you’ll convince people to take your desired action.
When you talk about how hard you worked to solve somebody’s problem, you’re actually presenting yourself as the hero in your customer’s story.
Remember, a hero has a problem they are on a journey to solve. So if we’re talking about all the work you did, that’s setting you up to be the hero. Even if you’re solving somebody else’s problem, you’re still making yourself the hero in the customer story.
Make your customer the hero so that your prospects can better relate and see themselves in stories about your clients. This lets you build rapport with prospects by helping them relate to the hero in your stories.
So how do we do that? I’m going to start with the end in mind. In this case, it’s the results. What are the results that your client was after? Everything in the story needs to lead them toward that result.
Understanding Your Audience
Every protagonist has a problem. They have something that they want and they have an obstacle that’s preventing them from getting it.
What do they want? Well, that’s actually the same thing as the results, which are at the end of the story. But we need to put the results at the beginning of the story instead.
We do this by asking what results clients and prospects seek. Then we can come back to the beginning and work those ideas into the story.
They wanted to grow their business, right? Maybe they’re a health coach. Maybe they want to be stronger. Maybe they want to lose weight. Now, we take that desired result and use it to identify the hero’s problem (and eventually possible solutions). The story is about them.
Business Case Study: An Example
Now let’s go through the ClearBrand formula. You’ll love it if you’re a fan of the StoryBrand framework. If you’ve read another copywriting book, chances are, it’s pretty similar to that too. Our goal here is to make your client the protagonist.
We’re going to state what the client wants, then we’re going to state the problem that’s preventing them from getting it. Let’s see what this looks like on one of our past client’s websites.
This is an investor and a private physical therapy practice owner who now helps people succeed with their businesses. If we go to his website, the first thing we see is how Dr. Joe helps private physical therapy practices succeed. That is what his customers want.
Then, he’s got a button to schedule your consultation. With this, we’re encouraging the action we want people to take right from the beginning.
Then we have services, and a case study called “Not Knowing What You Don’t Know.”
Let’s read a bit of this:
“Diana and Tim had been practicing therapists for eight years. They had owned a practice for two years after they took over their former employer’s business. You could say they were sailing without a compass. Diana found me through my podcast and Tim, my one day workshop, Tim being very reluctant to hire a consultant. He didn’t think they needed any help.”
With the passage above, we’re providing just enough background information to set up a story: they are like you. That’s what these first couple of paragraphs say, right? You are a private physical therapy practice owner. Great. What we’re saying here is that they’re like you. They wanted what you want now. Now, we introduce a problem with one or two sentences:
“I got in and immediately saw some red flags. Some of their insurance contracts were not renegotiated. Their clientele was nice enough, but started going to other providers. I asked about physical therapy, retention, attrition rates, and their best payer. All my questions were met with best guesses, not facts.”
These are very clear problems. In fact, if you own a private physical therapy practice, you might see yourself in the same shoes. And that’s the whole point.
As the customer, you’re reading this story that you are currently living. That’s what we want to do here.
The next thing you need to do is solve the problem. How did you help this person solve their problem? It’s not about showing them how to solve a problem on their own. If that’s the story that you’re telling, your customers don’t need you. They can figure it out themselves.
So how did Dr. Joe help them solve the problem? If we scroll down and continue reading the story, it says:
“When I started working with them, they were at negative $40,000 a month net and gross of 75. And in three months, they were positive $17,000.”
With this, he’s saying that he helped them solve their problems and make more money. Which is exactly what they want to do.
This case study details some of the things that he helped them do to get there, but let’s skip to the end where we find the results:
“I’m happy to see their practice has now become a huge competition to others. We attract a lot of other therapists from neighboring clinics. The word has gotten out and best of all, Diana and Tim are owners and not employers.”
Setting The Right Goals For Your Case Study
When writing a case study, remember: this is not about you. The basic principle behind a case study is that you’ve got to set up your customers to be the hero, not you.
Write like the customer’s success depends on it. You’re telling success stories and how you helped your customers win so that you can get more clients. Frame the entire study in terms of how you help your clients or previous customers win. You’re coming alongside them in their journey… but it’s their journey.
Readers of your case studies will understand this when they see the authority that you bring provided with a solution.
And more importantly, they see the results that your clients achieved. This is how you use a case study to show your prospects how you help people like them win.
But there’s one more step. You must call your prospects to action.
The Call to Action
We cannot forget that your case study page is a sales page. And that means your case studies need to have a call to action.
In the example above, the call to action is “schedule your consultation.” This is absolutely key to a successful case study page.
That’s why in step one, the very first question we asked what action we want our customers to take.
If you want to learn more about how to create a website that sells, we offer a course that will teach you how. You can access it here. Sign up to learn how to create a website that makes you money.