Case Studies: Do Yours Win Business?

When you're preparing a presentation to a prospective client, do you throw the case studies in at the last minute? How important are case studies? We count the ways...

When you're preparing a presentation to a prospective client, do you throw the case studies in at the last minute? Do you put a lot of time into crafting your case studies? Is your case study a business summary? Are your results anecdotal?

How important are case studies? Well, let me count the ways. Case studies demonstrate:

  1. Your Thinking (leveraging insight)
  2. Your Expertise (relevant category and industry knowledge)
  3. Proof that your work impacts the business positively.

Why does this matter? The one thing that great case studies can do better than anything else is REASSURE your prospect that hiring you is the right choice. And that's more important than ever because your prospects are scared. They have a lot riding on their decision to hire you. Their credibility, and maybe even their job, is on the line. They are counting on the firm they hire. They need to be reassured that they are working with a company that is knowledgeable, capable and committed to helping them achieve their business goals.

When you're putting your case studies together, here are 4 key things to consider:

  1. Relevance.

    Expertise in a category means you need to have depth. A case study is a brief opportunity to show your depth of knowledge about the prospect's industry and business. You can shine here as many case studies actually show that expertise is superficial.

  2. Thinking.

    Make sure your case study really demonstrates your thinking. Your language can speak volumes, but more importantly, highlight the INSIGHT you contributed and how you leveraged that to impact the clients business in the work you show. Make sure the work shows the insight clearly!

  3. Business-Centric not Tactic-Centric

    There are a lot of 'results' that are anecdotal. Stories like "The traffic to the site doubled after we redesigned it" aren't good enough. Was traffic a key metric for success or was QUALITY of traffic more important? The message here is that it's important that you share meaningful measurements of success against specific BUSINESS goals. What were the metrics you were working on? Did you achieve the goals? Does that mean an increase in sales? Customer count? Reduced service time? Fewer complaints? Whatever your metrics, it is crucial to be more specific and less anecdotal. You have an opportunity to demonstrate that you really can make a significant, quantifiable contribution to the prospect's business. Remember, it's about how your work impacted business, not about the creative itself.

In order to improve the quality of your case studies, here are a couple of tips:

  • Prepare as much of a case study as possible as part of the project scope while you're in the thick of it.
  • Schedule to update your case studies with results over time as appropriate.
  • Develop a three-point check-list for your case studies and toss the ones that don't measure up.
  • Keep working on them! The more you improve these, the better your work will be - and that's the best formula you can have for winning new business.

The bottom line is that well-crafted, thoughtful case studies can contribute to a client's decision at the end of the buying cycle - when it’s decision-time. Reassuring the prospect that hiring you is the right decision at this stage can actually mean the difference between a win and a loss. So take the time, do them right, and make sure you are always working with case studies that win.

Case Study Checklist
Ranking Criteria: Scale of 1-10 with 1 being not at all and 10 being case study nirvana.

  1. This case study is relevant to the prospect's business.
  2. The thinking is clear and the work demonstrates our insight and how well we leveraged it.
  3. The metrics and how well we achieved them are clearly presented. Extra points if they are graphically presented.

This article was written by FunctionFox CEO and owner of Suburbia Advertising, Mary-Lynn Bellamy-Willms. For more articles and resources, see