By Emily Suess

If you aren’t writing case studies as a way to market your small business, you could be missing an opportunity to show off how great your company is. Sometimes, case studies get you media coverage on websites and blogs or in magazines and newspapers. And they always give you an opportunity to show prospective clients how others have benefited by working with your business.

The Elements of a Case Study

Good case studies are broken into three elements: challenge, solution, and benefits.

In the challenge, you set up the problem that your client needed to solve, explaining how other attempts to remedy the situation had failed. The solution describes which product or service was used and how the initial problem was solved. And the benefits section outlines the ways in which your small business was able to make like easier for the client.

Case studies can be formatted in a couple ways: as one-on-one video interviews, as podcasts, or as written marketing material.

Picking a Great Story

If you already have an example story in mind, getting started might be as simple as contacting the client to see if they’re willing to work with you.

If, on the other hand, you’re not sure where the story is, you can survey your current clients to see who’s willing to help you out. If you’re really lucky, your surveys will turn up multiple potential case studies. In an ideal world, you’d have a case study to match every type of client group. That could mean an example from small, medium and large firms, or an example from private, public, and charitable organizations. It all depends on the nature of your small business.

Once you have connected with a client for a case study, you’ll want to ask some basic questions that help you identify the story:

  • What was the challenge or problem your company faced?
  • Which of our products or services helped you solve that problem?
  • How did you use it?
  • How did you benefit?
  • How did you track your success? Can you share your data?
  • What was your ROI after working with us?

Writing the Case Study

The answers to your questions become the foundation for your case study. Using the numerical data provided by your client, you can paint a picture for prospective clients that illustrates how you can help. Empirical data provided in visuals, like charts and graphs, can be extremely persuasive.

Here are a few basic pointers for style when writing the case study:

  • Use a strong study that describes how the company benefited from working with you.
  • Stay away from jargon and excessive marketing speak. Your audience will likely tune those words out.
  • Similarly, you should spell out acronyms on their first use to minimize confusion.
  • Include your contact information and a call to action at the end of the case study.

When you’re case study is polished and ready to go, publish it in print, online, or both to use as a marketing tool for prospective clients.