Know your organization would benefit from case studies, but unsure where to start? Here's a quick primer to get that ball rolling.
Case studies are an amazing way to create a fan base for your business or organization!
Here's why: case studies are stories, which tend to resonate with people more strongly than the usual sales marketing piece.
Now, let's talk about the steps required to create a case study.
Who is your audience?
Ideally, your case study should help your organization meet two critical business objectives: acquire customers or users; and build or maintain an "expert" reputation for your brand.
Moreover, you must write not only for customers or users, but also the people who will share the case study—the "go-between," if you will.
Salespeople need case studies to get customers
Salespeople want something tangible to take to events and meetings, that says: “We help companies in [industry] accomplish [business objectives X, X and X]. Look at the problem we helped solve for this customer. Look at how great they are doing now. We can do the same for you.”
Case studies are not only a great sales tool, but a nice bonus to add to a sales contract: “Sign with us and we will write a fantastic case study about your company and get you coverage in a publication of your choice."
Public relations pros need case studies for dealing with the media
Journalists need sources and want someone who knows what they're talking about.
Case studies are third-party references. They are “proof positive” that your organization is an expert in a specific field — at least, in the eyes of the featured customer or end user.
Meanwhile, the better the case study is written, the more likely a reporter will look to you when they write a story related to your product or service.
A simple outline for writing your rockin' case study
All your audiences (salespeople, potential customers, public relations, the media, etc.) have one thing in common: limited time available.
So assume they want the basics, albeit the most important/memorable basics.
The guideline below includes suggested word counts for each sub-topic within a roughly 850-word case study. Note that there are no hard-and-fast rules for length. In fact, many case studies are much longer than below. However, this is a good place for getting started.
Above all, be clear, convincing, and give the most attention to the solution and its results.
Customer background (50-100 words). Who is the customer or end user? Industry? Where are their headquarters?
Problem or opportunity (100-150 words). What business pain did the customer face, and how was it affecting their ability to do business effective?
Solution (100-200 words). What led the customer to your solution? Why did they decide to invest in your organization?
Results/benefits (150-300 words). What return on investment (ROI) did the customer experience? How did your company help solve their problem? Use numbers as much as possible to demonstrate ROI.
Conclusion (50-100 words). Now that the problem is solved, what plans does the customer have in store? Will they be continuing to use your product or service? What does the future hold for them, thanks to your organization?
Case study do’s and don’ts
Make your case study read like a success story. This is technically a “soft” sales piece.
Feature customers who love (not just like) your product or service. Your number of case studies is not as important as a customer who sings your praises.
Diversify your case study collection. If you have happy customers from a variety of industries, use this opportunity to expand your target audience outreach.
Use quotes. Not only will they add colour to the story, but media may even pull them directly from your case study into a story.
Feel you need to apply quotes to every section. The most important area is the results/benefits section — if you provide even one or two strong quotes to show how happy your customer is, you’re good as gold.
Overdo it with jargon. Remember: your potential customers (and other audiences) may not understand internal-speak. Avoid acronyms unless they are audience-appropriate.
Use marketing-speak and hyperbole. Focus more on the proof, and less on using hyped-up language.
Finalize your case study without customer approval. Their reputation is at stake. Keep them involved and allow them to review before you publish.
Prefer to hand all case study writing to an expert?
Creating a high-quality case study requires strategic planning, excellent writing skills, and a deep understanding of your audience. If you find your organization or team struggling to create case studies that truly capture your value proposition and speak to your target audience, consider hiring an experienced freelance content writer.
A skilled writer can not only help you create a professional and polished case study but also provide an outside perspective that helps you better communicate your message.
Ultimately, investing in a freelance content writer can lead to a stronger, more compelling case study and better overall results for your organization.
With 20+ years of expertise, I've written countless case studies for B2B organizations, governmental departments, and non-profit organizations. From SaaS to entrepreneurial grant programs to patient stories and much more, I regularly develop success stories shining a light on how my clients' products and services benefited their customers.
Interested in how I can help your organization? Book a FREE, no-strings-attached, 30-minute consultation with me. Let's chat about your case study writing needs today!