How to write a brilliant case study

How to write a brilliant case study

Why write a case study?

Customers need to believe in a product or service before they buy. They have to reach the stage where they think that what you’re selling solves their problem, that it is attractive to them and that it is either the best, or most convenient, option available to them. To help them get to this point, some compelling supporting evidence is key. We see it all the time….

“in a study of 100 subjects 97% slept better than normal”
This Works, product advert.

“51% of customers who search for car insurance with us could save up to £250 on their premium”
Money Supermarket, website copy.

Proof builds trust. And for service businesses, that proof often comes in the form of testimonials and client case studies. A case study is simply a compelling, written account of a real sale and its resulting benefits. The term might be a boring one, but a study conducted by Publicis Hawkeye found that “71% of B2B buyers in the awareness stage and 77% in the evaluation stage cited testimonials and case studies as the most influential types of content”. They work, so they are worth your time.

What makes a strong case study?

1. Quantification
Be selective about the project you choose to write a case study about and ensure it’s one that you can obtain or calculate results for. In my opinion, you’re telling a story and if the results are missing, the tale is incomplete. Case study results quantify the work that was done.

2. Benefits-led
Be sure to communicate what the problem or need was before your business came along and saved the day. Put the customer’s side of the story first and explain how and with which services you helped them. How did the customer benefit from choosing your company? Tell the tale from the client perspective.

3. Testimonial
Include a testimonial from the client to back up the story you’re telling. Ideally, this will be different to any comments that they have provided before, such as a Google or Facebook review. The best time to ask for this is just after you’ve finished providing your services and the client is delighted, so get into the habit of gathering these glowing testimonials straight away. If you don’t write a case study about that particular project later on, the testimonial can still be used elsewhere.

4. Keep it brief
When explaining a situation, which services were utilised, why and when, then additionally including a customer comment, it can be easy to be too elaborate. By all means write the case study details out long-form to begin with if that helps, but then go back and edit heavily to condense it down to the essential and compelling information.

And don’t forget…

5. The other W
Through covering the above you will have covered the What, When, Where and Why. You also need to include the Who by referencing the client company name and attributing the testimonial. Anonymous case studies just aren’t as believable, so try to avoid these.

Further tips

It’s unlikely that you’ll write one brilliant case study and be done. Having relevant examples for different services, various industries and/or different types of customer can be very rewarding and help close a sale. So build up your brilliant case study ‘store’ over time.

To help achieve this, I tend to use the same case study structure for every True Story we tell which makes it easier and helps ensure that nothing is forgotten each time I write.

Marketing plan, case study

My last tip is to read back over the case study text several times and check for repetitive language and sentences that may be too long. Look for synonyms if needed, to liven the language up a bit, and check that the beginning of your sentences have variation.

“Our business case study is written, now what do I do with it?”

Try and get it looking nice, visually interesting, inclusive of relevant images or photos. Then the obvious use is to include it on your company website, ideally as a web page rather than a download (because prospective customers are unlikely to need to download your case studies).

Snippets of the case study can be used for social media posts with relevant hashtags and a link to the full thing. Part of the contents may also be appropriate for inclusion in presentations. Some companies like to get case studies printed for distribution at trade shows and seminars, but we recommend considering the environment and plan to send digital links out instead. Too often, printed documents end up straight in the bin without being read.

If your case studies need an overhaul to each become ‘brilliant case studies’, it should be time well spent. If you’ve yet to write any, start choosing the shining examples you could share. Good luck and if you have any questions or any further tips, do comment below.

Rachael Dines, Director of Shake It Up Creative

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