How do we develop a case study?

Several people have suggested that we develop case studies to use on our website, or in other PR material. How do we start? What should we ask? We’re in professional services.

The alternative to any professional service is DIY. It sounds scary but some people look after their own legal matters [even in court!] and do their own marketing too! On a personal note I would rather not extract or fill my own teeth – but some people will! The purpose of a case study is to demonstrate why a potential client should use you instead of someone else – or DIY.

The best way to approach a case study is to do this over the telephone. We usually get someone who has not been involved with the project to make the call – that way any potential bias is removed.

Typically the questions we ask follow this pattern:

Introduction questions – to get the respondent feeling comfortable, none of these are too difficult:

  • When did [client] first begin working with [company]?
  • Why did you choose [company] as a marketing consultancy?
  • How did you first hear about [company]?

Then we explore the motivation which helps us in our future marketing activities:

  • Did [client] decide to get marketing advice after meeting with [company], or did it make the decision to employ a marketing consultancy first and then choose [company]?

We like to know something about our competitors, so we ask:

  • How many other consultancies did [client] consider before selecting [company]? Why was [company] better?

We re-visit the initial aims and explore the added value we have delivered:

  • What did [client] initially want to achieve by using [company], or any marketing specialist?
  • Have you achieved things that you hadn’t originally considered? If so, what?
  • Have these aims been achieved – in what?
  • Can you give any figures or percentages of how business or customers have increased since using [company’s] services?
  • What do you particularly like / value about [company’s] services to you?
  • Has or in what ways has working with [company] changed the business plan or future objectives for [client]?
  • Has working with [company] helped to open up new markets for the business, or provide you with a better understanding of the market you are in, or of your competitors?
  • Has working with [company] helped to give [client] the x-factor in your market?

These questions also give us some specific measurements to see exactly how effective our work has been. We can then use these case studies, with real evidence to present to potential clients.