The Value of Case Studies and the Order of Your Work

So a prospective is visiting your website, checking out all of your cool videos (for purposes of this post, I’ll be talking about videos, but it’s just as equally applicable to other types of work). If yours is like a lot of sites I see, particular if you’re a video producer, there is no information or back story on the making of those productions. They’re just a random collection of videos. If they’re on Vimeo or YouTube, maybe you can see the title on the thumbnail. But that’s it. How will the prospect decide which video to watch? Whichever one has the most interesting thumbnail? The one closest to the top of the page? The first one that pops up in a player? Eenie, menie, miney, moe?

The order in which you place your work on your site, and the context for the making of your videos may seem like an inconsequential thing, but it’s not. It literally could mean the difference between whether or not you get hired. The prospect coming to your site is most likely a very busy individual. He or she is probably looking at a half-dozen, or maybe even dozens of sites as possible vendors. Hopefully your work is enough to draw them in and see more. But if they just look at ONE, will it be the one YOU want them to see? Is it the best of the best?

Let’s assume you’ve drawn them in and now they want to learn more about your company. This is where case studies come in.

Case Studies Provide Context

Case Studies are simply the back story for your project. They could be as short as a paragraph, or as long as a series of ten slides with accompanying photos and video. The purpose is simple: to shed light on how you work and solve problems. They give the client an idea of what it is like to work with you and your company. Here are some tips on creating effective case studies.

  • Tell a story. Make them interesting to read. Who are the “characters” involved? What was at stake? Were you “victorious”?
  • Identity the problem. What is the problem your client in this study had? Why were you chosen to solve that problem?
  • What did you do? Briefly explain how the project and process worked.
  • Why did you do it? Briefly explain why you did what you did. You want to exemplify your problem-solving abilities and instill trust.
  • What was the outcome? Briefly explain what was the outcome. Obviously that includes showing the work. But if you have it, also include in objective results (e.g. video views, client responses, increase in sales, etc.)

Examples

You don’t need to create a case study for every project. Nor do I think you necessarily should. On my site I selected two projects to highlight. I chose these two because each had as specific angle to the story the highlighted something that makes Dare Dreamer Media stand out.

The first was the keynote film series we created for our client Pictage and their PartnerConference. This is a yearly conference for professional wedding and portrait photographers that is primarily geared to inspire and educate. Besides the fact the film series was very well received (and one of my favorite projects), we took a risk in how we approached it. Whereas the expected course of action would have been to highlight a series of well-known photographers in the film series, we eventually opted to show NO photographers. Instead we profiled four professional creatives from other disciplines. We did not want any “celebrity” personalities or prejudices (good or bad) that the audience might have had to affect the message in the stories. Yet, we knew the experiences of the artists we selected would parallel those of the photographer audiences watching the film series. The process demonstrates our willingness to take calculated risks (and thereby live up to our name), and our goal to make a project stand out. (click here to read the case study)

The second case study I included was a 30-second spot we created for the non-profit StreetGRACE. They work to raise the awareness of the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the Atlanta metro. They had a booth at a summer concert and festival sponsored by the largest Christian radio station in the area. Over 40,000 people would be in attendance. Part of their booth space included a 30-second “commercial” that would 1) raise the awareness of the sexual exploitation of underaged girls and 2) direct people to their booth. The challenge was to do it in a way that was “family friendly.” The idea of illustrating such a provocative topic in a way that would be appropriate for a six-year old is no easy task. I selected this as a case study because it illustrates our ability to think creatively and solve challenging problems. (It’s also a fun little video. Click here to read the case study).

But I Have a Blog

Many of you have blogs where you showcase your work. On those blogs you do write-up about the project and show the work (at least, I hope that’s what you’re doing). In essence, those are case studies. And that’s great. But unless your blog is the only site you use to display your work, I recommend taking a couple of your favorite blog post write-ups, and transferring them to your main site too. Many clients looking to hire you will start there.

Just a Suggestion

I’m not professing to be a case study expert by any means. Nor do I think it’s absolutely crucial you have one. But in this competitive environment, you should do whatever you can that sets your company apart from the pack. How do you like to display the work on your site?