Adding a wrinkle to ye olde case study in ad agency new business

The humble case study. The tried and true old friend. A classic in not only ad agency business, but other professional service marketing. You can also see a variation of it in just about any business book.

But there are differences in the way agencies use case studies. And when you look at how cases are used in books and in the other professions, there’s a potential do and don’t there that can make your use of this tool more effective both in new business prospecting and pitching. So, let’s get to it!

Do make it relevant. This is kind of no brainer. But if I’m your potential client, tell me why you’re gonna spend time on the case. This can mean a few quick bullet points in an RFP or 30 seconds in a presentation. Did the work solve a similar problem? Was it the same target? In the same category? One of my favorite techniques – perhaps a new little wrinkle for you – is to throw in an “implications” area after a case. In a new business presentation, this can give you a chance to get some discussion going and get the prospect involved. In an RFP or other written deliverable, you can add an idea or throw a question in. You lose nothing. In fact, your document becomes more readable and interesting. And, potentially, differentiating.

Don’t think a case study always has to be about your agency’s work. Business books and strategy shops (the McKinseys of the world) love to use case studies to illustrate points. So, what’s wrong with including it in a white paper, a presentation, or speech? Just the other day, in fact, yours truly used the work of another agency to demonstrate the power of specialization.

When you start thinking about it, there are all sorts of places to use a case study. So long as you don’t try to pass off work that’s not your own. Happy pitching.