3 steps to writing a case study worth reading

writing great case studies is easy

Writing great case studies is easy if you follow three rules

They’re as old as the hills so what is it about case studies that makes them appealing and still relevant today? 

I think that any organisation, no matter what sector, how big they are or how many customers they have can and should write case studies about why their customers use their services.

The simple reason why is because others will believe the word of a customer over sales and marketing spin any day of the week.  We all love a good story and it’s human nature to identify with someone else in a similar position.  We’re just built that way.

From a marketers point of view case studies are a great way to showcase how your customers have overcome problems others might face.   And they will have done this using your product or service.  

Like the art of story telling there is a way to write a good case study worth reading and, as in so many things in life, the rule of three applies.

Here are my 3 steps to structuring a case study:

  1. Clearly state the issue, challenge or problem – allocate 40% of your writing to this.  This section is important because, written up clearly, it allows other organisations to identify with your customer and then you’ve got them hooked for the solutions.
  2. Identify the solution or approach taken – allocate 20% to this.  See why, below*
  3. Sing about the results – allocate 40% to this.  If you don’t yet have any, talk about what results are anticipated.  What is the impact – real or expected?

*The temptation can be to write it too much about your solution and not enough about your customer’s problem.  Such lack of subtly is fatal and likely to get your hard work dismissed out of hand.

 Finally, here are three essentials that all really good case studies have in common:

  1. strong quotes from customers
  2. numbers in the results section 
  3. joint branding and customer sign off *

*I know that’s really two but I do hate to break the rule of three.

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About Janet Harkin

A freelance marketing consultant currently working on some interesting projects. From Cumbria but live in Donegal, NW Ireland - both equally beautiful parts of the world. I love being busy, my boys, fresh air and Led Zeppelin. I also like marketing - the strategic challenges as well as the of-the-moment campaigns.
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6 Responses to 3 steps to writing a case study worth reading

  1. Hi Janet
    Love this. Simple, clear advice.
    I’m just starting to look at developing some case studies, as there appear to be no current ones available. I will refer back to this when I start planning!
    Thanks for posting.
    Spencer

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  4. Ross says:

    Really useful. Clear, practical advice that makes sense. Thanks Janet

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  6. Ninja says:

    I am currently working on one big case study for a sports brand. I feel so small compared to them but am gonna go the full mile and create a case study that will either make me or break me. Thanks for your advice. Will bookmark this n come back to reference n get help! *gulp*

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