What’s storytelling got to do with selling innovative software and systems?
The answer is; a lot — if you're able to shape your case studies into effective communication tools.
The case study is commonplace. Many businesses have them. But they aren’t always using them to their full potential.
The typical case study isn’t much more than an itemised list: we did X for Y and their sales increased by such-and-such a percentage. Chuck in a quote from your client and bingo!
But how appealing does that sound to a broader audience? It’s short and to the point, but it isn’t saying very much beyond the basic facts.
You should see case studies as a gift. They’re ready-made subjects just waiting for you to turn them into compelling stories. If you fail to exploit their potential, then you’re also underestimating your audience.
We’re going to explain how case studies become powerful selling stories, and why you need to unlock their hidden power to maximise your reach.
Tapping into the human element
Tech startups have attracted record investment, despite the pandemic.
Technology is on a rapid trajectory, accelerating changes in how we live and work. Many tech brands are riding this wave very successfully, meeting the needs and aspirations of a broad range of users.
No matter how sophisticated technology is, the way we give it meaning starts in our brains. Research shows how stories affect the brain. Stories are an important way of transmitting and taking in information.
If we read about what a new app does, what resonates most strongly is how this will impact some aspect of our lives.
The true benefit of accounting software, for example, lies in how it makes life easier for users, giving them more time to focus on other things while giving them greater confidence and reassurance.
In other words, it’s as much about how it makes users feel as it is to do with streamlining processes.
The way this software can appeal to potential users is by tapping into these feelings. The vehicle for doing this is storytelling.
We respond to stories. Stories frame and express experiences, and make them relatable. They feel authentically human.
From the specific to the universal
Creating stories out of case studies makes them much more compelling to read, but it also addresses another issue.
In many cases, tech firms are solving a problem or set of problems that relate to a particular client.
These bespoke solutions may involve very industry-specific elements, which, on the surface of it, will have limited appeal to a wider audience.
But stories have universal appeal. If you can structure your case study as a narrative, focusing on the obstacles it helped a client overcome, then this is much more relatable.
Adding value, improving processes and productivity, and creating positive outcomes are all things everyone can understand, even if the details don’t relate to their own areas of activity.
Using the vernacular
While technology is at the heart of many successful projects, its benefits tend to be human-centred.
This is an important facet of creating a good case study. Rather than focus on technical terminology, look at how you can translate the entire process into more general language that emphasises the user experience at the heart of everything.
Here’s an example of a specialist educational app for medical colleges. Throughout this case study, the language is easy to understand, and the content talks mainly about how people benefit from the technology involved.
Don’t be afraid of simplicity. You can explain things in such a way that you draw out the universal appeal of your product or service, rather than the specific client or industry using it.
Building trust with social proof
Because case studies are real-life examples of how you’ve helped a business, they provide powerful social proof of the difference you can make to others.
Building your audience's trust is a key aspect of content marketing, which is why case studies can work so well as content.
But social proof isn’t a given. Like all content, your case study needs to engage your target audience to make an impression. To do this you need solid facts and data, but you must also put them in a context that creates a narrative that pulls your audience in.
Case studies should be as shareable as blogs, articles and other content. How do you make sure of this? By including the right elements.
Essential Case Study Elements
- Find the story – look for the narrative contained in the work you’ve done
- Focus on problem-solving – the kinds of obstacles businesses face can often be universal
- Include strategies – explain how you approached the problem
- Add solid facts and figures – make sure it’s credible and believable
- Use real people – include quotes from your client in the narrative
- End with the legacy – how the outcomes will continue to benefit the client.
Remember to keep your case study content accessible and readable. Format it with plenty of headers and bullet points. Use images to highlight points.
The primary aim of the case study isn’t to make the reader think you’re amazing, but to get them to identify with the pain points of your client. If they do this, then you can create a piece of content that will stay with them for longer.
Don’t think of the case study as simply a puff-piece for your business, but rather a precision content-marketing tool.
Are you making the most of your content? Talk to us about strategies for successful content marketing.