From Case Study to Success Story – Building Trust in the Water Industry
In the water industry, trust is everything. Building trust with your customers and prospects is critical to improving sales. In the water industry, case studies are unbeatable at building trust.
Unfortunately, case studies about water industry products and services are often dense, difficult to read, and, frankly, a bit dull. Used to convey complex technical information about a solution to someone’s problem. Written to a strict formula. No pizazz.
As a powerful bottom-of-funnel tactic, you want your case study to resonate with your audience. To do that, you need to present it as a success story. A compelling story of how your solution solved a client’s problem.
In this first post in the series Four Things about Case Studies: From Case Study to Success Story – Building Trust in the Water Industry we look at Thing 1: Build it as a Success story. Use these 5 key blocks to build a case study that is also a compelling success story.
Match the story to your audience
The goal of a case study is to build trust in your product and in your brand. This makes them an excellent tactic for the bottom of your sales funnel. After reading your case study, you want your ideal customer to feel that:
- you are experienced in their industry;
- you understand their industry’s specific needs; and
- you know how to get industry-targeted results.
To do that you need to know your audience. If your system applies across verticals, target that part of your audience that will appreciate the challenges faced by your Hero.
Be sure to consider the ‘skimmers’
With so much content out there, many of us have become ‘skimmers’. We skim headlines and section headings to see if the content is relevant to our needs. For skimmers, you should include an executive summary. Craft a mini-headline to capture attention and then, in a couple of sentences, or better yet dot points, summarize the case. Highlight the relevant aspects that made it a success story.
Thing 1: Build it as a Success story
Stories have a beginning, where a hero is faced with a challenge. Stories have a middle, where a solution is presented. And they have an end, where the results of the solution provide benefits to the hero.
Case studies should follow this same progression. Thus, there are 5 basic blocks needed to build a case study into a success story:
- The Customer (Hero) block
- The Challenge block
- The Solution block
- The Results block
- The Future block
Let’s break down each block and see how the facts and details of your case study can be crafted into a success story.
Block 1: The Hero
This first block is like the prologue to a novel. This is where you set the scene for your story. Tell us about your featured customer – the Hero of the success story:
- what do they do;
- what they want; and
- what they need.
Describe the customer as an industry leader and innovator who found creative ways to solve a business problem, using your product, of course. Describe them as your Hero.
Remember, although it was your product or service that saved the day, the customer is always the Hero of your success story. Always treat your product as a supporting character. [Next week’s post looks in more detail at how to find a Hero for your success story.]
Block 2: The Challenge
In the Challenge section you describe the obstacles your Hero was facing before he found your solution. It is important to provide the context right up front. The key here is to make the challenge universal to the industry, to engage your chosen audience. Explain how the customer’s business challenge sits within their industry. You want your readers to be able to relate to the Hero’s problem.
Block 3: The Solution
Here in the middle of the success story comes the solution. This is where the Hero decides to implement a solution to their challenge.
Take your readers on a journey as the Hero searches for a solution. Explain how your solution compares to any others on the market. And, of course, your solution proves to be the one that can save the day.
In this section you explain:
- how your Hero found your solution;
- how and why they picked your solution; and
- how the solution was rolled out.
Be sure to highlight specific features that appealed to that customer.
You can also provide details of the implementation of the solution. However, if there were major complications with this stage, you may want to leave that out.
Block 4: The Results
The results section is where the data and technical details come in. This is where you provide proof that your product solved the problem presented in the challenge section. Charts and graphs describe the data visually. This not only helps your reader understand your solution, but also breaks up blocks of texts.
Use data relevant to the story. Summarize large data sets where appropriate and use colors in graphs to highlight trends. The last post in this series helps you pick the best visual for your data.
When describing the benefits of your solution, hard numbers are always better. Numbers like: ‘boosted revenue by 63%’. However, if all you have is soft benefits, like ‘saved time’ these can also work.
Block 5: Into the Future
As with an epilogue to a novel, this section is often missing from case studies. But describing the Hero’s use of your solution into the future can be powerful in generating trust. Tell how your products will be an essential part of their operations moving forward.
You should explain how your support services provide benefits over the long term. It demonstrates your commitment to your customers’ on-going success.
One more thing…
In the water industry, the impacts of your solutions can roll out over time. Positive business and environmental impacts take time to develop. Consider keeping up with your customers and chronicle how your solutions continue to provide benefits. This lets readers see that your goal is not only to help with immediate needs, but also to ensure long term results
This is particularly effective in the water industry as your solutions often provide benefits beyond your immediate customer. Managing water resources sustainably provides benefits to the community and the environment. Tell that story, too.
For your case study to resonate with your audience, bring in leads, or close a sale, you need to present it as a success story. A compelling story of how your solution solved a client’s problem.
In this post we looked at the key building blocks to a successful case study. How to write your case study as a compelling success story.
Come back next week to find out how to find the perfect Hero for your success story in Thing 2: Finding your Hero.