When it comes to inbound marketing and content creation, case studies can be really beneficial. This is especially true when it comes to nurturing relationships with potential clients who are almost ready to make a purchase. And yes, this is the same when it comes to marketing for life coaches.
Case studies are great because it shows potential clients what working with you would be like. By highlighting the experience of one of your coaching clients, your prospects receive some social proof that you’re indeed the real deal who can get results. Seeing how others overcame obstacles, experienced growth, destroyed fears, and and reached their goals could be what seals the deal and makes someone decide that they indeed want to work with you.
While a powerful case study can open the door to new clients, if you aren’t careful, you could end up in hot water with your existing clients. Or you could make your prospects nervous about what you’ll do with their sensitive information. So what’s a life coach to do?
Even if you plan on making your case study anonymous, you may still want to ask the subjects of the studies if it’s okay to use them if you will be going into detail about the kind of work you two did together.
Trust is everything in the relationship a life coach has with his or her clients. If there wasn’t trust, breakthroughs and meaningful changes would be nearly impossible. And if your clients find out you spilled their secrets (albeit anonymously), they may feel like you were using them as an experiment or as a guinea pig. They may close themselves off to you. Even if they continue working with you, it isn’t worth their time anymore–nothing could get done.
Your prospective and existing clients may also be a little less than forthcoming to share with you if they find out your detailed case study was whipped up without consent. They may not want to be the next one to have their dirty laundry aired in your marketing efforts.
Keep it anonymous
Permission or not, you want to keep your case study anonymous.
You may not believe it, but people don’t like their secrets getting out. And they like it even less when those secrets are disseminated in public, in writing, by someone they confided in under the pretense of confidentiality.
Even if your client is incredibly low profile, they will still feel incredibly violated. They’ll feel exposed. And the odds are good they won’t only not want to work with you anymore, but they may not want to talk to you ever again.
Scrub your case study of any identifying details, and the higher profile the subject is, the less information it can contain. If you are talking about a mom in Palo Alto who has a husband in tech, that could be anyone. But if you talk about a mom in Palo Alto, by way of Boston, who is an under 35 female philanthropist and physician who is Chinese American and married to an incredibly wealthy, high profile tech CEO, quite a few folks will soon realize you’re talking about Priscilla Chan, Mark Zuckerberg’s wife. And they will once they start Googling because curiosity got the better of them.
But there are some people who don’t mind sharing quite a bit of themselves with the world. These people will scream your name from the rooftops and tell anyone who will listen about their amazing life coach. This is fine and all, but just be sure you want to publicly connect with this individual before you publish anything.
Just as with any of the pieces you’ve developed for marketing purposes, you want your case study to provide value for those who read it. One way to do this is to make sure it’s not all about you and what you do.
Your case study should tell a story about the subject. Who are they, what are their challenges, what actions did you take together, and what were the results? As the story is as anonymous as possible (probably), your reader should be able to easily slip into your subject’s shoes, so they can imagine themselves overcoming those obstacles and being helped by you.
Along the way, it’s helpful if you can include helpful tips and takeaways your readers can use to help them right now. Maybe offer up a ritual to try or provide steps for a visualization you used with the client who is the subject of the study.
Go long (and short)
Case studies are great for those who aren’t sure they want to work with you. These are the people at the end of their selection process–they are either going to select a coach to work with or pick another solution. As such, case studies that are a couple of pages long or cover a few slides are perfectly appropriate. It’s hard to give anyone the big picture and build real value with less.
But brief case studies in blog post form are clever too. These can be excerpts from something longer or their own short case studies.
For these, you’ll have to focus on one aspect of the experience–it’s too brief to speak to everything. Since blog posts are often best for attracting or nurturing those just beginning to discover they have an issue or obstacle, or those just beginning to explore if working with a coach is right for them, consider focusing on what will help them at this point. Talking about when a subject first realized they had an issue, chose to work with you, or had their first breakthrough are all great fodder for blog posts.
When it comes to content marketing for life coaches, there are a lot of folks doing very similar stuff. However no one else is exactly like you or your clients, and the chemistry you two have together is incredibly unique. No one else can bring that to the marketplace.
Just be sure to do it right. Your case study is your client’s story. If your study is sloppily written, riddled with errors, or visually unappealing, it’s almost an insult to them and the faith and trust they have in you. Please utilize an editor and maybe get a graphic artist involved to be sure your case study is polished, professional, and respectful of the brilliant person who inspired it.