When you hear the term “case study” does your mind conjure up visions thick technology reports or medical journals? If you do, that’s okay – I did to before I started understanding what they are and how powerful they can be when used by builders, remodelers and other building professionals.
See, from a young age, I always wanted to be a story teller. In fact, in eighth grade my English class encouraged creative writing (as opposed to ninth grade where we spent a semester diagraming sentences – a dreaded and useless task in my opinion). I’d sit at the rickety table that held my mom’s 20 pound, noisy old typewriter and write my stories there. I used a lot of white out (I wasn’t much good at typing), but I certainly did love to tell a story. This love carried through college – and beyond.
However, once I became a full-time copywriter, I thought those days were over. Let’s face it. The chances of me becoming the next Jeffrey Archer or Jodi Picoult are slim-to-none. But what I discovered was I don’t have to be a fictional author to tell moving and compelling stories … and neither do you.
This is where case studies come in … and even though their name sounds formal, they can be fun, entertaining and inspiring to create – because they are nothing more than telling a story – the story of the project you built.
There are two types of case studies I write for contractors: Project Spotlights and Traditional. The project spotlight is written from your point-of-view. You provide 100% of the content and photos to tell the project’s story. Contractors like this approach for smaller projects or projects where they simply don’t feel comfortable asking their customer to participate in a traditional case study. These are also much quicker to produce – and get “working” for you.
In this example, although there isn’t a lot of copy, the message is clearly depicted. With the help of the photos, customer understand this ice cream parlor renovation.
A traditional case study (often referred to as a customer success story) is a more in-depth process but the trade-off for being an often time-intensive process is that you are developing a more credible piece because it is told from your customer’s perspective, not yours (it’s unbiased). Your customer is interviewed (by a professional writer, like me), and through a series of questions, they tell the story of how their project went. With the writer’s help, your customer is lead down the path to reveal the necessary information needed to make a great story:
- The Customer
- The Challenge
- The Solution
- The Results
- The Wrap Up
It is important to note that with this form of case study that you hire someone else to do the interviewing. Why? Customers usually will provide more honest feedback when they talk with someone who wasn’t involved in the project. They will more freely explain challenges and frustrations they felt during the project. Remember, it is important that these challenges are addressed in your case study (makes the project more realistic to readers) It is the writer’s job to “spin” those challenges into a positive light to show how you, as the contractor, solved all issues.
In addition to writing the case study, the writer will often provide you with a report highlighting items that you may not have known about how the customer felt about the project. These usually come in the form of great testimonials you can use elsewhere, but even if a few are unfavorable comments, you can use that information to improve your process.
Case studies are one of the most powerful marketing tools available, and the work that contractors do make them a natural choice for marketing your services. So why not give it a whirl? Do you use case studies to market your business?