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Consulting Case Studies: How to Make Them Work

By Michael Zipursky

Marketing your services through education is one of the most effective marketing approaches you can take.

For example, you can give a presentation, offer a seminar, write a book, white paper or serve up a case study – just to name a few.

Today let’s look at how you can use case studies in your consulting business. And how your business can benefit greatly from them.

Case studies are relatively easy to put together. People enjoy reading them. And they are a highly effective way to demonstrate your authority and expertise in your field.

When a potential client is deciding on whether they will hire you or not… a big question in their mind is…

“Can this guy or gal really do what they are saying they can for my business?”

There are many ways you can help your client believe that you can truly deliver the results you say you can.  And the case study is one of them.

You can use a case study to show how you worked with a past or current client to overcome and solve an issue they faced. It’s proof that you not only can talk the talk, but you can also walk the walk…

Here’s how to put together your consulting case study:

1. Introduce the business
Set the stage here by introducing your client, their business, and their industry.

2. Outline the problem or challenge
In this section you outline the problem your client was facing. Be as specific as you can be. Simply saying they had marketing issues, or a problem with their PR is not enough. The more detail you include the clearer the picture will become and the more effective your message will be.

3. Summarize the action steps
Now that you’ve described what problem your client was up against it’s now time for you to explain what you did to help them deal with those issues. It’s usually a good idea to break down each part of the process you used or the steps you took – so that the reader gets the sense that you have a methodology and system – and that the results you provide aren’t ‘by chance’.

4. Talk about the results
It’s time for the results. Outline the results that were achieved and how they impacted the business. In many cases the outcome isn’t just dollars and cents, but also has an impact on your client. Are they less stressed? Do they have more free time? This is also a great area to include a quote, feedback or testimonial from your client. As you finish off the case study be sure to mention if you’re continuing to work with this client and even if you’re not, how have the results affected their business into the future.

5. Your business
At the end of the case study you should always include a paragraph or so about your company.

Get Permission
Of course, you shouldn’t publish a case study about your client without their permission. 9 times out of 10 your client won’t have a problem with you doing so, but it’s good to ask them.

Writing case studies for your consulting business not only helps you land new clients, it’s also a great way for you to review past projects. Doing this helps you to find what worked and what didn’t – so that you can continue to learn from your experiences and implement your best practices into your next consulting project.

Publishing consulting case studies
The best place to publish your case study is on your website or blog. I also recommend that you make it available in PDF format so people can download it easily if they want.

You can also submit case studies to industry publications – and if accepted are a great way to spread the word about your business and your client’s business.

Case study length
Yes, I know. You were going to ask “how long should my case study be?”. The answer is as long as it takes you to include all the relevant information. If you can get all of it in to 1 page, that’s fine. If it takes you 3-4 pages, that’s okay as well.

If you’d like to see case study examples go here to view our consulting case studies page.

15 thoughts on “Consulting Case Studies: How to Make Them Work

  1. Shana says:

    This is a great outline and I found it quite helpful. Thanks.

  2. Jay Guilles says:

    I have used case studies to get new clients and you're right, They work.

    • Jay – thanks for sharing. I've worked with many clients to implement case studies and have used them in several businesses and have always found them to be great at supporting proof and establishing authority and credibility.

  3. Dumb question: guess you can't charge if you're doing a case study, huh?

    • Terri – No such thing as a dumb question where I come from. Always good to ask.

      You definitely can charge for case studies. Michael Stelzner has a lot more information on writing white papers (and case studies) as projects.

      This post was really aimed at using case studies to win more business and attract clients. But you can definitely offer this service to companies and they'll pay handsomely for it.

      That was a great question!

  4. Emerald says:

    Hello,I am really glad I stumbled upon your consulting site. This outline is very helpful and I love the e-mails I recieve as well Thanks!

  5. This is a great site for consultants – great information for the team to share with consultants that reach out to us. Thank you!

  6. Radwan says:

    It is a good steps if we know how we start and control our working.

  7. paul says:

    All I wanted to know about putting together a case study I have got. Thanks so much.

    to put together your consulting case study:
    to put together your consulting case study:

  8. sam says:

    I have used your outline today to write one case. Thank you for sharing.

  9. CaseStudyNinja says:

    Hi – This is a great piece, and covers all the core elements of a case study with impact.

    Couple of extra points…

    1. it’s really powerful to provide a mix of qualitative and quantitative results where possible e.g. ‘we saved the client $500 per month and feedback tells us morale improved’

    2. We are seeing more and more consultancies include images and video in their case studies. This obviously depends on the context, so while it’s not necessarily appropriate within the confines of a bid, it is definitely something to think about for those case studies that you want to publish online or in a marketing brochure.

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