Every major buying decision today starts with research, from simple product information or delivery details to expert advice; from customer reviews to opinionated blogs. But there’s one type of content that is absolutely worth its weight in gold. It entertains, it informs and it inspires customers to buy, all in one readable package. It’s the case study.

Promotional Consultant Today shares these tips for developing effective case studies.

Tell a story that people want to read. Case studies show the human face of your business—even if you sell widgets, case studies allow you to show your people working closely with your customers. This is about real people getting things done. All references to your products and services are in the context of a real-life situation, often where a problem is being solved. When potential customers read a case study, they are seeing your business through the eyes of your happy customers. That’s powerful stuff.

Use case studies to gain media coverage. Case studies can be a fantastic way to get publicity. Written well, they are ready-made quality editorial material that websites and publications in your sector will thank you for. All you have to do is give journalists a good story, with a compelling angle, customer quotes and decent images. Don’t let your case studies become too salesy though, and avoid jargon.

Show your business in action, doing what you do best. Case studies can help you convince customers that you know what you are doing, demonstrate that you really are the expert in the field and prove that you will deliver on your promises. They show you rolling up your sleeves, digging in and going the extra mile.

Use as the ultimate testimonial. A case study is a chance to offer overwhelming evidence that you and your firm are the best in the business. You can do this by showing in detail how you provided your customer with tangible benefits—include evidence in the form of images, statistics and quotes. But don’t just ask your customers for quotes, otherwise they’ll provide a carefully-worded paragraph that will probably sound as if it was written by you. Have a proper chat with them, ask them about their experience of working with you and record what they say; the best quotes are conversational and unforced.

Once you’ve created your case studies, distribute them widely. Publish them on your website or in your email newsletters, make downloadable PDFs, give print-outs to your salespeople and share at trade shows and on social media.

Source: Rachel Miller is the editor of Marketing Donut, produced by Atom Content Marketing.