How to write an engaging case study: PART 2

By Clare Bagshaw

As we outlined in our last post, there are a few best practices that can be followed when writing a case study that mean the difference between creating an effective and engaging article, or a throw away.

Remember to consider these best practices, together with the key sections below, to make sure your case studies are worth the time and effort you put into them.

Key sections applicable to almost all case studies

As with everything, there are exceptions to this rule, however if you use the key sections below as a guide and a writing sequence you can be sure all necessary facts will be included in your case study.

Key sections should cover:

  1. Customer and problem
  2. Analysis of alternatives – the journey
  3. Recommended solution
  4. Implementation
  5. Results
  6. Summary and close

1) Customer and problem

  • In the lead paragraph focus on your customer, not on your product or company. Remember you are writing from the reader’s perspective. Gain attention with an interesting lead.

  • Focus on the ‘pain points’ for the customer, including details on the impact of the problem to the customer’s business. If possible use a quotation from the customer.

  • Discuss the causes of the problem. What led to it and what the ‘symptoms’ were.

  • If relevant you can describe how the problem affected the goals and objectives of the organisation and which levels of the organisation were most impacted.

2) Analysis of alternatives - the journey

  • Discuss the approach that the customer underwent in evaluating potential solutions. This is another area where it is important for the target audience to relate to the case study subject. 

  • Mention a few alternative solutions or options that were considered and why yours was chosen. (Remember a solution does not need to be a competitor. Maintaining the status quo may be an option).

  • How did the customer find out about you? 

  • Briefly communicate the structure / funding / project plan / environment the solution had to fit within. 

  • Clearly explain why your offer is the best alternative from the customer’s perspective.

3) Recommended solution

  • Provide the business case that was used by the customer to select your solution. Again, this is an important stage that the target audience must be able to relate to. You can touch on why your solution stood out from the competing approaches. 

  • Include any custom changes that needed to be made to make your solution fit the environment. This can illustrate flexibility and great customer service.

4) Implementation

  • Here is your chance to explain any specific challenges that arose during the implementation of the solution. Explain how you solved these issues and what the outcome was. Remember to write this from the reader’s perspective so they can personally relate to the situation. Prospective customers will also appreciate humility from you.

  • Suggest any tips that could help others who are involved in this process. Potential customers can gain value from learning what to avoid.

  • Discuss the specifics of how the implementation occurred. This will enable the reader to relate the solution to their particular case. How long did it take? How did you exceed the customer’s expectations?

5) Results

  • Demonstrate how your product / service provided a solution for the problem your case study subject was faced with. Be sure to describe the results in quantified, measurable terms.

  • Provide a brief summary of the benefits that your solution has resulted in. If applicable document them from each key stakeholders’ perspective.

  • Use hard facts and figures to show how your offering solved the customer’s problem. It is good, where possible, to illustrate how the solution:

    • increased market share;

    • decreased expenditure;

    • increased revenue;

    • improved productivity; and

    • improved the organisation’s operations overall.

  • Bullet points can help get a punchy message across.

  • Include a customer quote. Keep it short and relevant to the topic of the case study.

6) Summary and close

  • Summarise the case study: Problem, action, outcome. Providing a few key points at the end of a case study will leave the reader with a take home message they will remember.

  • Remember to include a call to action such as contacting you.

The Upshot

Now you have the foundation for creating effective and engaging case studies. Of course, sometimes it's not always possible to include every detail we have listed, however, if you try to cover off as many of these points as possible, you will end up with case studies that your target audience can relate to. As a result they will better understand how your offering can help solve their problem.