Guest Column | August 30, 2022

What Makes A Good Case Study…And What Doesn't

By Wendy Jacobson, Owner of Incredible Content


Chief Editor’s Note. For B2B marketers, the case study is one of the most misunderstood and underused assets in the content marketer’s toolbox. This is the second in a series of articles from Wendy Jacobson, a content marketing master, intended to help B2B organizations and their marketing teams create case studies that better engage prospects.

Case studies are a great tool to have in your content marketing toolbox.  They tell the story of how you helped resolve a customer’s issue but it’s not you who’s telling the story; it’s your customer. 

That said, not every satisfied customer is a good candidate to be featured in a case study. Let’s discuss why, but first, let’s talk about how case studies help you attract more of what you want.

Things that make you go “hmmm…”

A case study tells a story. It has a beginning, middle and end that coincides with your customer’s problem or issue, the solution they sought and the results they are now experiencing. Ideally, your customer is the hero in this story; it is told from their point of view rather than from yours. Crafting it this way achieves a couple of outcomes for you:

  • As it’s not your narrative, you are not the main character in the story; your customer is. They are telling the story and how you helped, which makes it more objective to your audience.
  • Since it’s from your customer’s perspective, it also is more relatable to the audience. Prospects who experience the same issues as your happy customer want the same results for themselves.
  • An objective and relatable story is often the final push a prospect needs to move forward with a sale.   

Ask and you shall receive

The best way to get the information you need from your customer is to ask them. Schedule a 30-minute phone call to discuss the following questions:

  • What problem or issue were they having?
  • Why did they seek help and choose to work with you?
  • What results are they now enjoying, including anything quantitative?

Send them the questions in advance so they have time to reflect and gather information. Then, use their words to craft your case study. Remember, the beginning of the story outlines their business and the problems or challenges they were facing; the middle talks about the reasons they chose to work with you and more specifically, what you did for them; and the end highlights the results you helped provide.

Case studies attract like-minded customers

Of course, a happy customer sharing their story is a great asset to have but beware: not every happy customer should share their story.

You want your case studies to attract either your ideal customers, customers with similar challenges or the types of customers you want more of. If a customer falls into one of these three categories and they are willing to be featured in a case study, that’s great.

But sometimes, you have outliers; customers with a unique challenge or a challenge you no longer want to focus on. Even if these outliers are so giddy with the results you delivered for them, resist the urge to feature them in a case study. They are not your target market.

Their challenge falls outside of what you want to attract and although you did an outstanding job for them and they are delighted, they are not a good candidate for a case study. Instead, get a quote or two from them for a general testimonial about your company and overall service. 

Now you know who makes a great candidate for a case study and how to get the information you need.

About the Author

Wendy Jacobson, Owner of Incredible Content
Wendy Jacobson is a content writer and strategist with more than 25 years’ experience in the business world. For the past 13 years, she has worked as an independent contractor, helping businesses plan, craft and distribute their content.

Her company name, Incredible Content speaks specifically to how she views content: as a vehicle for businesses to build and maintain their credibility. Over the years, Wendy has helped businesses in the healthcare, wellness, food, and technology industries foster their credibility via content such as articles, emails, web content and case studies.

Wendy has always loved to write and has a BA in History and English from The George Washington University. She lives in Minneapolis and when not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, two teenage kids and dog. She also likes to jump rope, bike, hike or do just about anything outside.

Connect with Wendy on LinkedIn, visit her website, and subscribe to her newsletter that shares 3 quick and easy tips to level-up your content each Tuesday.