One of the most common ways to demonstrate product efficacy or to tell a product story in the K-12 industry is through a case study or a customer success story. Case studies are an important component of your content marketing strategy in pushing out content of interest to your community of prospects.
While the general structure of a case study is basically the same across all industries, K-12 stories are usually quite compelling because they strike at the heart of two things our culture holds most dear – kids and education.
Case studies have a four-part basic structure:
Statement of the problem or challenge – provide context and clearly state which student group (K-3 or ELL for examples) is having the challenge, and be specific about what it is.
Product solution – without sales language and in plain English explain how the product addresses the problem and why it was selected by the school or district.
Implementation of solution – how was the product or program implemented. What metrics are being used to determine efficacy.
Successful Outcome – what results they were surprised by as well as results they expected.
Why are case studies important?
A well-told story is always compelling but even more so if it is inspirational in some way. As we know, educators trust the opinion and reccomendation of other educators more than any other influence on a potential purchase. Educators also relate to the "higher good" of a story in which a student discovers, perhaps for the first time, the joy of learning. Sales people love to share case studies with potential customers because it allows schools and districts to see themselves and their own potential success in the stories of their peers.
For those companies who do not yet have scientifically based research (SBR), or their particularly product cannot support the significant investment of SBR, case studies are an accepted way to share results of successful implementations of the product or service.
Case studies, then, are an opportunity for K-12 companies to showcase their ability to solve problems for the school or district in a format that has context and proof of performance.
Does a case study have the same persuasive value of hard metrics? No, but if the case study documents specific outcomes with some reasonable measures, they are enough to get a company in the door. After that, it's up to the sales person. A good sales person uses case studies as opportunity to tell the product story with passion and conviction.
Even relatively new companies can provide the documentation of a case study. Most create case study opportunities by piloting their products in selected K-12 schools and districts. Using specific research data about the challenge in general, or about the school's challenge in particular is the general background for the story. Adding in the impact of successfully implementing a particular program told through the experience of one student, one teacher, one classroom or one school is usually enough material for an experienced case study writer to create a compelling case study.
What particular guidelines does your company use in creating case studies?