Stories Sell: Using Case Studies & Testimonials on Your Website

We’re all drawn to stories. People remember stories and anecdotes long after any recollection of advertisements is gone—and case studies are particularly compelling because they highlight a problem that was solved. Even if we’ve never personally struggled with the problem in question, a few specific details of the experience is enough to trigger our imagination and with it our empathy.

That makes miniature case studies an excellent sales tool and one you should use to help your website work harder for you. Your website is the ultimate sales tool and ideally it will have primed your potential clients so that when they call or email, they’re ready to pull the trigger. Stories can help do this.stories and marketing

What To Include
The key elements are:

  1. A problem.
  2. Enough details to bring the story to life; what did it mean to your client to have this problem?
  3. A description of how your service helped solve the problem or make the situation better, preferably without too self-congratulatory a tone. The idea here is to show, not tell, how terrific you are.

Your case studies don’t have to be long and elaborate, though occasionally telling a more detailed story can help drive home what it would be like to work with you. But most visits to a website last only a few minutes, so a quick story will do the trick. Here are some examples:

Trainer Example:
Mollie’s New Manners.
Mollie, a bouncy shepherd mix, is a foundling. At the tender age of six weeks, she was discovered in a trash bag by her current owners, Sam and Trina Kowinski. Early on, Sam and Trina brought Mollie to a traditional dog training class, but neither dog nor owners could stomach the choke collars and physical corrections used there. A year later the Kowinskis came to us: Mollie’s behavior was out of hand. She chewed up Trina’s shoes, knocked people over with her exuberant greetings, and pulled Sam’s arm an inch longer with every walk.

Already after her first few sessions, Mollie caught on to the training game. Now food and play rewards have her sitting politely for greetings, walking on a loose leash, and munching exclusively on sanctioned chew toys. Not only that, but Sam and Trina have discovered a true love, as well as a knack, for dog training. They have signed up for our Canine Good Citizen class and want to start Rally-O in the fall. Unsurprisingly, Mollie thrives on all this exercise and stimulation. According to her parents, she is calmer than ever.

Pet Sitter Example:
Jake’s Mom Goes on Vacation & All He Got Was Tender Loving Care.
If anyone deserves a trip to balmier climes, it’s Rebecca Grey, Jake’s mom. As a corporate lawyer she works crazy hours. But up till now, Rebecca’s hard-earned vacation time had always been haunted by thoughts of the pooch she left behind because, well, her sweet-tempered Afghan, Jake, is quirky. Certain foods that are okay one day are considered inedible the next. He loves other dogs, except on off-days when he doesn’t. Bicycles send him into a panic—but not skateboards. And so on. Other pet sitters had not worked out well, with Rebecca returning to a stressed and unhappy Jake.

But at TLC Pet Care, Rebecca found the perfect housemate for Jake. His name is Ken Eder and he has a soft spot for sight hounds—as well as a deft hand with long silky coats. Jake and Ken formed a bond right away. Throughout her vacation Rebecca received daily email updates, spiced with the occasional photo of Jake, playing tug-of-war, snoozing, or frolicking in the park. “He was having more fun than I was in Bermuda,” says Rebecca. She has already booked TLC for Christmas.

Dog Walker Example:
Slimming Down Sadie.
Three-year-old French Bulldog Sadie was in trouble with her veterinarian. As the good doctor told Sadie’s dad, Robert, the food-loving pup weighed too much, had high blood pressure, and was at risk for diabetes. Robert changed Sadie’s diet and cut out snacks in-between meals, but busy as he was running a software company and spending time at home with the family’s new baby, the extra exercise Sadie also needed was tough to fit in.

He called Take A Hike and we immediately arranged for Sadie to have twice-daily leash walks with an experienced and patient walker. Soon, Sadie’s fitness improved and she graduated to our off-leash small dog group walks with lots of running and playful wrestling. Four months down the line, Sadie is trim and fit and her blood pressure is normal. She loves to play fetch and has become best friends with Amigo, a Jack Russell mix. On walks, they’re attached to opposite ends of the same tug toy, and in the car on the way home, they sleep sprawled over each other. And Robert? He no longer dreads vet check-ups.

Placing Case Studies On Your Site
Make your case studies easy to find. Place them on main pages, such as your service pages, bio page, even your home page if there’s room. Frame the stories in a nice box to help them stand out. As potential clients scan your site, they’re likely to be drawn to anything set apart this way.

Even just one well-placed case study can have an impact. But try to add a few each year if you can. And once you’ve collected more than a few case studies, you can add a new page for them. (But keep them on the main pages, too.) Call the new page something interesting like Client Stories or Success Stories, and link to it from your services page in addition to adding it to your navigation menu.

Approaching Clients To Tell Their Story
This is easy. Next time a client says something nice to you (i.e., “I don’t know what we’d do without you,” or “Working with you has helped so much.”), thank them and then add, “We occasionally like to include our clients’ stories on our websites. I’d love to feature you and Max—Can I share this success with others, maybe post a picture of him?” You can also email a few clients with whom you’ve enjoyed a particularly nice relationship to ask them the same thing.

Make The Most of Your Case Studies
Once you’ve taken the time to chat with a client and write up a little story like this, why not use it in the rest of your marketing? Print a case study in your printed newsletter, include it in your e-mail newsletter, send it as part of introductory mailings to veterinarians and other referral sources, and lay it out with pictures in color on single 8.5 x 11 sheets for distribution at any events you attend.