In the first of a two-part article I will share with you how to write a powerful case study that really resonates with your audience. In part two, I will tell you how to share it effectively to extend your reach and secure an exceptional return on your investment (ROI).

It’s no secret that case studies are one of the most powerful marketing tactics in your tool bag to promote your business, afterall, it’s about:

  • Your customer’s point of view rather than you boasting about how great you are.
  • Demonstrating actual business results realised, rather than theoretical savings.
  • Sharing an interesting, real-life story, rather than promotional copy.

So how do you write a case study that has a clear message and compels your reader to take action?

Structure

Throughout my career I have written countless case studies, experimenting with flow, length and content to come up with a ‘perfect’ formula. I’ve also read what feels like billions of other people’s case studies, and in the process determined a list of dos and don’ts when it comes to writing a good one.

In the end, I’ve settled on the following structure, and because I want you to succeed in business (and also because I’m tired of reading boring case studies!) I’m happy to share this with you.

The title

This has to be more than ‘Company ABC case study’. The title is the single sentence that will make someone read your case study. It must be the most compelling line you write, and should contain an incredible hook. Take a look at your results and pick something that you think has that ‘wow’ factor. For example, “Company XYZ helps Company ABC to reduce operating costs by 90%”.

Summary

Once you’ve hooked your reader, next it’s time to summarise what they’re about to read. This should be 1-2 sentences and cover the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your story. It should give them enough of an overview to understand what you’re about to tell them, and make them interested to find out more.

The company

This short paragraph is your opportunity to showcase how amazing your client is. It doesn’t matter if it’s a one-man-band or the world’s largest organisation, every company is special and this reflects well on you. Establish your client’s credentials, including how long it’s been operating, number of customers, awards won, accreditations secured, innovative products/services offered…etc.

Background

In this section, outline the problems your client was experiencing that led them to seek out your help. Keep the length to about 2-3 paragraphs and focus on the key challenges that you feel will resonate with similar companies. But remember, this information will be sensitive, so don’t go shouting about how poorly managed the company was before you stepped in, or naming a rubbish previous supplier.

The solution

Keep this section factual and succinct. You don’t need to provide a narrative on what was happening every day, just the highlights of what you implemented and how it addressed the challenges experienced by your client. As a rule, I tend to put any technical details/specification in a separate highlighted section to keep it separate from the main body copy and stop it detracting from the story’s flow.

Results

This is the most important section of your case study. It’s the evidence that proves how amazing you really are, which is why you want to push your client (in the nicest way possible) for facts and figures that back up their experience. Waffle like, “we implemented a cost-effective solution”, means nothing; to say, “by reducing expenditure by 50% our solution was cost-neutral”, is far more powerful.

Client quote

Again, forget the waffle. No-one wants to read another boring testimonial about how, “Company XYZ is great, we recommend them.” Think about what you really want that testimonial to say and draft something meaningful.

For more help, check out “The secret to the perfect testimonial”.

Our view

In the final conclusion, it’s your last chance to pitch. Tell your reader why this project is of particular importance, the skills/knowledge/expertise you demonstrated, and why they need to get in contact with you so that they can experience similar results.

In part two of this article, I will share the secrets of how to guarantee great ROI from your case study. To make sure you don’t miss it, connect with me.


Photo by Reuben Juarez on Unsplash