Making the case for case studies


Case studies are among the most valuable tactics an accounting firm can adopt to enhance marketing. They’re often treated as nice extras to be added at some vague date in the future, but that’s a mistake. A well-written case study comes across as authentic, relatable, and highly readable. Even one case study gives such veracity to the rest of your messaging that these powerful tools should be a top priority.

Think about it: Neighbors ask neighbors for the lowdown on what it’s like to work with local contractors and handymen. Parents ask other parents to share their experience at various schools, knowing these reports hold far more value than the content in the shiny brochures and school websites. Most consumers take reviews on Google, Amazon and Yelp with a grain of salt, but the star rating and the details reviewers provide are a strong factor in readers’ willingness to try a new product, service, or restaurant.

Anyone can say “We’re the greatest! We deliver a quality product and make client service a priority.” Is it true? Maybe…maybe not. Only the parents, homeowners, and customers know for sure. What’s more, bragging makes polite people uncomfortable. And yet, marketing has to include a certain amount of what our mothers would classify as bragging. The solution? Let someone else say all those wonderful things about the firm and its people so you don’t have to!

Your clients are in the best position to deliver an accurate outside view of the firm and can do so without being accused of unseemly braggadocio. Their stories are believable. In addition, their words tend to accurately reflect the way other business owners describe their challenges and goals whereas CPAs (and even marketers) often resort to industry lingo that readers wouldn’t use themselves.

Case studies make it easy for readers to picture themselves in the shoes of an actual client. Their business probably faces some of the same challenges, and they’re interested in the experience of fellow business owners both personally and professionally. Sharing real people, situations, solutions, and results helps case studies bring the list of services and industries you provide into clear focus and show how your expertise translates into measurable benefit.

You can even create an effective case study when the client wants to remain anonymous by letting your team describe the challenges they found, the tactics they employed, and the results they achieved. While this type of case study lacks the personal feel of those that utilize the words of named individuals, they’re still a good way to help potential clients see your expertise at work in a real-life context.

It’s hard to name a more effective marketing tool than the case study. When your clients (or you) tell the story of exactly how you helped them solve problems and achieve goals, you let readers see the benefits of working with the firm in a concrete way that just isn’t possible with other types of marketing content.


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Sarah Warlick

Sarah Warlick founded Proof Positive Content to provide professional service firms with high-quality content that resonates with their target audiences. Sarah's writing appears in books, on the websites of over a dozen Top 100 Accounting Firms and in Accounting Today, Forbes and other leading publications, but usually under another name. Ghostwriters rarely get the glory - their clients do!