Marketing Case Studies: A Case Study
The case study, as a vehicle for research, has a long and varied history.
With applications for qualitative investigation ranging from the social sciences to healthcare, case studies are an important tool in tracking development. Similarly, a specific study can be used to demonstrate a principle or thesis, as is often true of case studies in the realm of marketing and advertising. But within those realms the case study begins to occupy a new space as well – the demonstration not only of the values of the client, but also as a means by which to promote the marketer.
Marketing case studies illustrate the importance of a client’s brand. A study can reveal that a particular product satisfies a niche market, that an organization has solved a problem for its patrons, or to promote a new or improved service. Case studies like these present an aspect of brand narrative, as well as how the expression of that narrative was realized. They offer promotion for the client beyond that of traditional marketing – but also work to promote the marketer. By highlighting not only the important aspects of their clients’ products, but also the effective means by which they were promoted, marketing firms can leverage case studies to market and promote themselves as well.
Though specific studies vary, the component parts of a marketing case study can be rather simply placed into four broad categories: problem, strategy, solution, and impact. For marketers, the problem their clients face involves promotion: the desire to expand an existing product market, or the desire to promote a new product. The strategy for addressing the problem varies greatly, and is specifically tailored to suit the product, its target market, demographics, and more. Strategic planning involves developing branding, creating web content, determining if print or television media is better suited to the product, and much more. The solution presented in a marketing case study is the fruit borne of strategy. Maybe focusing media in specific target markets, rather than attempting to expand reach is most effective. Or maybe a social media blitz to market virally suits the product best. Or maybe any of a hundred other solutions is the right one for that specific client. Whatever the solution, its effect is illustrated in the case study. Finally, a study explores the impact resultant from the solution. A case study reveals not only how a marketing firm achieved a goal, but also how that achievement affected the client and their product.
Certainly the client benefits from this breakdown of the marketing process, but the marketing firm itself is the real beneficiary of a case study done right. In demonstrating its expertise at effective branding, the firm is sharing its own brand narrative, and delivering a convincing sales pitch in the process. Not only does the case study tout the firm’s abilities, it provides prospective clients with a play-by-play look at how those abilities operate in a real-world scenario. The study in this way fulfills its most basic function for the marketer: it demonstrates the firm’s defining principle as one rooted in focused, strategy-driven success.