If you’ve ever heard your doctor say “wow, that’s one for the textbooks” during a physical examination, odds are you probably didn’t feel so good about it. In the marketing world ,however, being the first to find success in new and noteworthy ways is what sets you apart from thousands…most of the time in a good way.
And while groundbreaking marketing campaigns won’t land you in Grey’s Anatomy, it can make for a brilliant case study shared in classrooms and conference rooms around the world. As any big brand like Coca Cola, Tylenol, and American Airlines can tell you, these records solidify your brand as thought leaders.
But before we indulge too deeply in fantasies of marketing grandeur, let’s make sure we cover the basics. What exactly is a case study, what constitutes a good one, and most importantly, how do you build one? We’ll explore it all as well as share some of our favorite marketing case study examples. Let’s get started!
According to Curata, “a case study in the context of marketing is an analysis of a project, campaign or company that identifies a situation, recommended solutions, implementation actions, and identification of those factors that contributed to failure or success.”
Even though, at its core, marketing case studies are an informational tool, that doesn’t mean they have to read dryly, like a report. Reading a case study should be like reading a story—only the beginning, middle, and end are all replicable business takeaways.
As I previously mentioned, many big brands are sure to have conducted their own case studies on high profile campaigns. However, case studies also exist across different industries, and can feature even the smallest mom and pop marketing shops!
You can find samples for industry-specific case studies pretty easily. We went ahead and gathered a few for you:
There’s no shortage of case studies out there. If you’re searching for inspiration however, it’s important to be discerning in your searches. Remember, not all case studies are about successes. Many detail big swings that missed the mark.
When you’re consuming case studies be sure you’re reading both kinds equally. You’ll find that you can learn just as much from the mistakes of others!
Before we dive into the instructions, let’s take a second to explore why a business would invest the time and effort into writing a case study. After all, why share your big marketing secrets with the world, what do you get out of the deal?
Simply put, you get the chance to share your story. Case studies, after all are just stories showcasing your products and methods. They make for pretty spectacular advertising because, to a reader, it doesn’t feel like they’re being marketed to.
92% of customers prefer that media messages sound like a story. By using case studies your appealing to the logical, casual consumer who wants to know the “who, what, where, when, and why” that drives them to buy without any of the extra fuss. Case studies are the perfect medium to package it all.
Every good case study maintains one singular focus: how Company “A” accomplished “B” by using “XZY”. This means most marketing case studies tend to take on an easily understandable problem-solution structure.
For the remainder of this section, let’s think of a marketing case study as a recipe. We’ll go over the ingredients, then the directions that detail how you need to put it all together to make it digestible (or better)…!
Using the ingredients above, assemble them in this order to create a basic marketing case study:
You’ve certainly heard enough from us to this point. Now it’s time to see what all of these tips and tricks look like in action. A plethora of marketing case study examples are out there, each one with a different objective: purely educational, sales driven, industry leadership, and more.
To give you a well-rounded picture, we’ll share some of our favorite marketing case studies with you so you can see it all in action for yourself.
The popular football tournament the “Fiesta Bowl” takes place each year in December. In a time saturated by college bowl games, they struggled to find ways to engage and interest the public on social media around their game specifically. Why we like this case study: It’s a classic example of how to present a problem/solution structured study. No muss, no fuss.
The Surf Life Saving Foundation rolled out an innovative new framework for their brand known as the surf lottery. Despite the size of the initiative they were able to break down their process on a share of voice campaign with a great deal of clarity. Why we like this case study: it provides actionable and replicable examples of how their objectives were received.
Organizational application Asana also finds itself in a competition heavy environment. They are one of many SaaS productivity programs available. They needed to give their brand more of a voice to edge out against competitors offering near identical products. Why we like this case study: It’s storytelling at it’s finest and perfectly demonstrates the subtle advertising concept.
This is a great example of a marketing agency showcasing their history of work with a high profile client (the Boston Red Sox). It explores their entire body of work on a dynamic landing page. Why we like this case study: it demonstrates what a multi-media approach to a digital case study should strive to be.
As you can see, putting your own spin on a case study is what gives it that extra element of memorability. If you’re interested in learning more, check out some of our marketing case studies to see a different perspective!