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Case Study Writing Do's and Dont's

What’s the best way to use case studies to market products?

One of the interesting things about case studies is that they give the reader, which is typically a prospective client, an insight into how your product or service would work for them.

A case study, as the name implies, is a study of a specific example (i.e. a case) and how it helped the customer.

What is a Case Study?

Case Studies are a very effective 'soft sell' way to promote products and services. Why are they so effective?

Customers want 'proof' that your product will work before they invest in it. That's understandable.

By writing a case study that shows how it worked for a company with the same 'pain points', you help the reader see how this product would work for them.

So, how do you write a case study that makes this impact?

The skill to writing a compelling case study is to:

  • Identify their pain points, for example, what's holding their company back

  • Show how a client, with similar products, resolved this problem and then

  • Encourage them to contact you and discuss how it could work for them

After White Papers, case studies are the second most popular marketing document for promoting the benefits of a product or service.

With that in mind, if you've been asked to write a case study or are new to this area, this tutorial will help.

Case study format & guidelines

A case study demonstrates:

  • How a specific situation (i.e. case) was identified

  • Which solution was selected to resolve the issue and

  • Summary of the final results, i.e. how you resolved the issue

In the IT world, case studies tend to be between 500-900 words.

In general, aim for three to five pages; include one image per page at most.

Anything more and it looks too hard sell; case studies typically adopt a more soft-sell approach.

How to structure your case study

How do you format

There are three sections to a case study.

  1. Problem

  2. Implementation

  3. Results

The opening 'problem' section must carry a punch. In other words, it has to mean something to the reader - something that they can relate to.

When you start writing, try to put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself what problems do they have... and how you can address these.

  • Prioritize their needs

  • Develop themes that address each problem

  • Weave your solution to these issues into the fabric of the document

Tip: Write about an issue that has significant business impact for the reader.

Demonstrate how your product can resolve their critical business issues; what you're implying in this section is that if they choose your service, you can also resolve their issues and here's how to do it...

The more specific the case study, the more it will impact the reader.

Case Studies that are too general and try to propose to solve all problems for all people have little or no impact.

Be specific. Be focused.

Highlight Benefits

Concentrate on how your product or service addresses a very specific issue.

  • Be careful here as the rest of the case study is built around this single issue.

  • Don't dilute the case study by addressing more the one issue.

  • Stick to one area and explain how you can solve the problem in measurable and quantifiable terms.

For example, support your case study with statistics, figures and tables where appropriate.

Return On Investment

Explain how the investment in your product/service pays for itself. For example, show how it increases productivity by 50% within 2 months.

Demonstrate how you can substantiate this; otherwise, your argument loses credibility.

The key here is to keep reinforcing how your product resolves these issues. How does it address specific issue and where will the customer see real cost savings.

Reducing Costs

How does the solution help contain costs?

This area is very important, as budgets are always a sensitive issue.

If you can illustrate how a similar company saved a certain amount of money by adopting your product, i.e. with real proof, you'll capture the reader's attention and increase the likelihood that they'll contact you.

Reducing Barriers

Demonstrate how your solution improves daily operations and their performance.

For example, how does it fit into their business process? How would it simplify complex processes and allow the customer to increase their outputs, production or another KPI.

This is a good area to mention how your system plugs into other applications or business critical applications.

Use your judgment when compiling the final case study document.

Avoid making it too technical or overloading it with excessive statistics.
Make the statistics stand out so that the reader can easily digest them and then remember them later on.

Long Term Rewards

Impressive case studies stand out; decision-makers use them as a source of reference and will cite you as a credible, trustworthy and reliable source of information - the type of company people want to do business with.

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Remember to include a benefit in the title of your case study.

Instead of writing Aerospace Case Study say Case study on How Product X Improved Sales by 300%. Grab their attention from the start and then make sure to keep it!

Drop me a line if you have any questions about writing case studies.

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