The first question to ask is why do I need to be writing a compelling case study?

What customers think and feel about a company and/or its products is a key aspect of business success.  Attitudes are shaped by experience of the product, the opinions of friends, direct dealings with the company, and the advertising and other representations of the company.

Customers do not usually make purchases without thinking carefully about their requirements. Wherever there is choice, decisions are involved, and these may be influenced by constantly changing motives. The organisation that can understand why customers make decisions such as who buys, what they buy and how they buy will, by catering more closely for customers needs, become potentially more successful

Ideally, your case study should help your company meet two critical business objectives:

  • acquire customers, and
  • build (or help to maintain) an “expert” reputation.

You must write not only for end-users, but the people who will use the case study, for example sales staff.

When writing a compelling case study, think:-

Structure

When writing a compelling case study, describe the customer’s problem in clear concise language that they can relate to (avoid technical jargon where possible etc.).

  1. Give a clear, detailed overview of the solution: how did your product/service/solution resolve the customer’s issue?
    • How (How was it implemented? How long did it take?),
    • What (Exactly what was adopted? What were the main challenges?),
    • Who (Who at the client was involved? Ideally provide some key quotes).
  2. Outline the results – try to make then as tangible and quantifiable as possible.
  3. Were there any lessons learned. Good to put these in unless they are detrimental!
  4. Make sure the customer is typical of the markets you are going after i.e. industry & location.
  5. You shouldn’t tout service features too early in the case study – try to stick with the real customer benefits.
  6. Where possible provide links or references where your client can find more details i.e. press articles etc.

Questions to address

When writing a compelling case study,  you need to consider both parties perspective. You need to ask/answer the following questions to give the Case Study a balanced view.

  • Why is it a success story?
  • How did it solve the problem?
  • Was the product/service/solution cost effective?
  • How was it cost effective?
  • Did it meet your client needs and if so how?
  • Did the product/service/solution allow them to provide better service to the public or business community? Why did they choose your product/service/solution?

Do’s and don’ts

DO:

  • Make your case study read like a story. This is technically a “soft” sales piece. Avoid marketing-speak.
  • 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, if your lucky journalists may even pull them directly from your case study into a story.

DON’T:

  • Apply quotes to every section. The most important area is the results/benefits section. If you provide one or two quotes to show how happy your customer is, you’re good as gold.
  • Overdo it with jargon. Remember: your potential customers (and media) may not understand internal-speak. Avoid acronyms.
  • Finalise your case study without customer approval. Their reputation is at stake. Keep them involved and allow them to review before you publish.

Once you have that you can then look to post on your website/blog/twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook feeds.

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