Case studies are a useful means of showing potential clients or investors how you have helped your customers. Follow these steps to create case studies which are to the point and tell your story.
Skip the introduction
Often case studies start by telling the story of who the client is, what their background is, how they came to know the business. Much of this information is likely to be unnecessary. A simple way of dealing with this is to do a little case file at the top:
Number of employees (if needed)
Sector (if needed)
Problem (write this in 10 words or less)
This immediately sets out who the client was and the issue they needed you to help with.
Putting it in a list makes the information easy to digest at a glance. Your reader can then judge:
- Are they in my industry/sector?
- Is the organisation similar to mine?
- Did they have a problem I can relate to?
- Is this the kind of business we are looking for?
- Is this a common problem we know needs solving?
If a list isn’t appropriate then write a simple introduction. For example: “Acme Supplies is a leading supplier of props for cartoon characters. Their employees – a duck, a rabbit and a road runner – create new products which fail on purpose. When their main customer Wile E Coyote threatened to change suppliers, they knew they needed a new product line.”
Start with your client’s pain point
Case studies are written to detail how you were of use. Start with why you were needed in the first place. What were they struggling with?
By starting with the pain point your client is experiencing your reader can immediately see the heart of the issue. Did they need more sales? Were they struggling to find a technical solution? Were they getting the wrong kind of customers? Was their current process inefficient?
Stick to the key issues and keep it brief. Outline the problem and say what the consequences of it were for the business.
This section of the case study sets out the who, what and why of your story. Focus on those three things when you are writing it.
Think about how you would tell the story if you were talking to someone face to face. This also helps you think about the language you use – your tone of voice. How would you explain it to a managing director or a potential investor? Keep them in mind as you write.
Avoid industry jargon. The person reading may not know what terms or abbreviations mean. You want your case study to be accessible.
Enter the hero
Now your reader understands the issue, they want to know what your solution was. This is where you come in. You’re the hero in your story. Outline the steps you took to help your client. This is where you talk about how and why.
When you’re writing about the solution don’t just think about what you did but also how you were able to help in a way no-one else can. Bring in your experience. Talk about your approach and values. Show how your unique combination of skills and knowledge made you the go-to company to solve the issue.
Identify the benefits
Wrap up your case study by telling the reader what the client gained. For benefits like increased sales, your reader will be expecting you to quantify the result. A percentage increase allows you to demonstrate this without sharing any commercially confidential information.
Remember though that not all benefits are going to be ones you can put a number next to. Think about the wider benefits of your work and share this too. Your reader may well spot an intangible benefit they would like to get as well.
Write a good headline
When you’re ready to publish your case study give it a good headline. It needs to grab the reader’s attention and sum up what they are going to read about.
One of the most searched for terms on the internet is “how”. We all want to know how things are done. It’s a great first word for your headline eg. “How we increased sales by 1300%” or “How we gave all the staff at Acme Supplies every Friday off”.
Keep it short and direct. Clever word play is not necessary. You are writing an invitation to your reader and you’ve got less than 12 words to do it in. Make them count.
People want to see a benefit that they would like for themselves. What does your ideal customer need? Key needs in business usually relate to time, money or resources. Which one of these does your case study demonstrate you can help with? Focus on this in your headline.
Rachel Extance helps business tell their stories so they can reach a wider audience for their work and ideas. A professional journalist, she knows how to write stories people find relevant and engaging. If you would like help to get your message across, need someone who can write articles for you regularly, or you would like actionable ideas for how to tell more people about what you do, get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contact her on social media.