Editorial Case Study vs Sales Case Study: What Are the Key Differences?

Aug 2, 2021 | B2B PR Blog, Case Studies, Editorial

Wordcount, formatting, and focus are three of the ten key differences between an editorial and sales case study. Both are excellent promotional vehicles and play an important role in PR and marketing communications.  You can use a case study to do different things during the sales process.  They do this by getting your company achievements out to prospective customers – directly, by what you say about yourself, or indirectly, through what is said about you. Either way, they’re a great way to show off what you do well and to competitively position your brand.

When it comes to writing a case study, there are a few approaches you can take in terms of delivery format such as video, text, and podcast.  Both types of case study cover the background, challenges, solution, and outcomes but there are some subtle differences between the two.

What are the key characteristics of an editorial case study

Editorial case studies tend to be longer – they act as a storytelling device, with a narrative structure of 800-1200 words. They are detail-oriented, focusing on the whole customer journey and perspective of the problem, range of solutions available, decision-making rationale and subsequently, the business impact of the solution they selected.

Objectively written, and more authoritative in nature, editorial case studies, can carry more information about the business and its area of expertise. This is not dissimilar to the elements you might find within a thought leadership strategy that shows a company or a spokesperson as an authority figure in the industry, giving articulate, informed and engaging opinions on crucial topics.

planning case studies

What purpose does an editorial case study serve?

Editorial case studies help to build credibility through endorsement and create brand awareness. They will have most appeal to people already in the buying cycle. They offer up an excellent opportunity for prospects to engage with an independent view of a real-life example of how your company has benefitted a customer. In fact, the best editorial case studies will feature extensive direct contributions and comments from specific customers who are happy with your services.

If a customer has increased revenue or been able to grow, the results speak for themselves, without having to actively ‘sell’ anything. It’s a great way to publicise the value of the products and services you offer and create familiarity. Editorial case studies are designed to educate and inform.

Where do editorial case studies appear?

An editorial case study falls into the category of ‘earned media’ and will appear in third-party channels such as magazines and websites. The publications that pick this up will focus on issues from a reader perspective and therefore have an interest in how customers are addressing common challenges. Editorial case studies, written by an expert writer, or journalist, are perfect collateral for these kinds of publication, as they are solution-oriented rather than sales focused.

The overall tone is considered and credible, leaving the reader confident that your business has the solution they’re looking for because of what respected third parties have chosen to say about you.

What are the key characteristics of a sales case studies

One of the most evident differences between a sales case study and an editorial case study is the length and structure. Sales case studies are considerably shorter at only 450-600 words and are usually much more succinct. For that reason, companies opt for snappier sentences, with more adjectives, and bullet points to get their message across in as few words as possible. This helps to spark interest and draw the reader in. Sales case studies are written from the perspective of the company and tend to focus on the specific features and benefits that your company, alone, can provide underpinned by great customer quotes.

What purpose does a sales case study serve?

The purpose of a sales case study is to highlight the reliability of a product or service in delivering on its customer promise (aka value proposition) and the excellent customer experience delivered.

Rather than objective, these case studies are partisan, they are passionate advocacy pieces rooted in fact but designed to do one thing – reassure and entice. They make an excellent business case that entices buyers and prospective customers into stepping into the sales funnel.

Where do sales case studies appear?

A sales case study can appear in a variety of forms in any media over which you have complete control, known as ‘owned’ media. This includes channels such as your website, LinkedIn, Twitter, sales presentations, and company brochures. A sales case study would never appear in high quality third-party media – unless as an advertorial – which immediately reduces its credibility. The overall tone of a sales case study is persuasive and provocative. It serves to convince a customer of a company’s benefits and inspire interest in products and services. It should aim to answer some of the most pressing questions first and then explain how you will help them do business better.

How to write your own case studies

If you’re looking for ways to grow your customer base and create new leads, case studies are an excellent tool. You don’t always have to pick between editorial or sales either. Both can be leveraged side by side to appeal to different customer segments, create stronger brand awareness and coax more leads into your sales funnel.

Your B2B case study checklist

Editorial case study:

800-1200 words
More authoritative, thought leadership
Objectively written

Focus on the customer’s perspective and their view of the problem

This is Solution message oriented

Appears in 3rd party channels, it appears in earned media e.g., a magazine

Tone: considered and credible

What’s its value to you? Endorsement, positioning, expertise

Trust level: High

Sales case study:

Considerably shorter 450-600 words

Bullets permitted

More adjectives


Written from your perspective

This is Value message oriented

Appears on your website/sales collateral, it appears in owned media e.g., your website

Tone: persuasive and passionate

What’s its value to you? Education, evidence

Trust level: Low

If you want to know more about B2B communication and the work we do here at EC-PR, get in touch.
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