Case studies

The insightful case study sweet spot

Recently, I resolved with myself to launch an insightful case study masterclass workshop in spring 2020. And it was while introducing myself to a fellow coworker at Castleton Mills, that I realised I need a snappy way of defining exactly what an insightful case study is.

Traditionally, case studies have been snapshots of products or services delivered successfully to satisfied clients. They tend to be factual accounts and problem-solution focused. Occasionally they allude to some sequence of events and developing relationship – the barebones of a story. And their objective is to prove your aptitude at doing what you do.

They’re illustrative, yes. And often effective too – they tip the balance for people who are already convinced to buy. They’re a late purchase-journey sales tool.

But they’re not very interesting to new prospective clients, if you want to gain more meaningful work with your ideal clients.

From now on, let’s call old-fashioned case studies these classic case studies.

Yet what I’m proposing is more of a modern, marketing spin on the classic case study. Let me define it in terms of this, and two other familiar sales and marketing tools.

In a radical departure from the norm, here’s an illustration:

Venn diagram showing overlap of classic cases studies, testimonials and explainer content

What we’re interested in is the overlap between these three powerful sales and marketing tools. Because this is where the insightful case study sits, gaining the proven benefits of all three:

  • Authenticity from testimonials: in a client’s own words, their voice and quotations.
  • Value from explainer content: useful (e.g. ‘how to…’ or ‘5 ways to…’) insight explaining how to overcome common challenges.
  • Perspective from case studies: a story or challenge presented through the eyes of people you help.

Insightful case studies hack the tried-and-tested formula of demonstrating credibility (which all three elements do individually). But they supercharge it with story and insight, making it authentic and valuable.

An example case study for a small, creative business

Suppose you’re a graphic designer or programmer. You work with clients who prioritise positive social or environmental impact (hello – basically you’re my ideal client!).

Sure, you could write a classic case study. Like a factual account of the time you devised a brand for a renewable energy startup struggling to find its feet. Or how some software you programmed reduces food waste for schools.

Now, what if your account was an insightful case study instead?

In it, your client shares their pain before you came along. Then they reveal pearls of wisdom you shared, ideas you set free, and solutions you helped them realise, on their own terms.

This would all be delivered through authentic quotes from your client. And threaded together using your own extrapolated insight and learning points. It’d be on a timeline that’s easy to follow too. One that demonstrates your ability to grow and learn, alongside people you love to help.

Wouldn’t this kind of case study be more likely to get read and believed? Because you’re sharing content that’s useful to prospective clients.

So instead of saying “here’s how I deliver success, fancy some?”. Now you’re saying “here’s how people like you solved this problem, maybe this gives you some ideas I can help you with?”

Insightful case study workshop launching in spring 2020

There, I’ve said it again so now it really must happen.

I intend to teach people like you how to harness the power of the insightful case study. It’s a tool I’ve been putting into the service of big, successful global brands for years.

Now you, a small creative business, can afford to reap the same rewards. And help people at the same time. With more meaningful work, in the service of your ideal clients.

By Chris Kenworthy | Life coach

Maybe you'd like some space with someone who gets you? Space to work things out. So you feel freer, and more inspired to make progress on whatever matters most.

I help people like you tap into your natural, resourceful brilliance.

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