On the case: writing case studies
We are always busy writing case studies for clients. Some are short and impressionistic; others long and detailed. They all, though, serve to give readers clear examples of how organisations’ goods and services have made a real difference.
So, what makes a good case study and what do you need to do to make yours better? Follow the eight points below and you can’t go far wrong:
Purpose – It’s an obvious point, but one that’s often overlooked. Be very clear why you want case studies. It’s not because you’ve seen some on competitors’ websites; nor is it because you want to impress your boss with some fancy writing. You need a real reason. And that reason will inform and shape the type of case studies you write. Usually this is explaining or illustrating your great service or good practice by describing exactly how you helped one of your customers or clients.
Messaging – Every piece of written communication needs a message. It needs to leave an impression with the reader, and it’s up to you to define what that is before you write anything. So, before you start, think clearly what the message for each case study is going to be.
Narrative – Children call them stories. Adults call it narrative. Either way, everyone – however old – loves to hear or read a beginning, middle and end. Make sure your case study tells a story. Start describing your customers and the problems they had, then move on to the solution you proposed or provided and then the wonderful results that were forthcoming. It’s just like writing fairytales, except unlike Hans Christian Andersen, there’s always a happy ending.
Impact – You aren’t going to impress if your case study ends with “…and then nothing happened”. You need to convince readers that your intervention made a real difference. It was the critical factor that turned things round. You made a real impact. Readers aren’t clairvoyant, though. They will only know this if you spell it out for them.
Format – Case studies come in all shapes and sizes. Think carefully about what would work best for you, and for the individuals and companies who you hope to impress with them. Some people like really short, snappy case studies; others require long, detailed and considered pieces. Do a bit of research and find out what works. If you are not sure, contact a few customers and ask them directly what would impress them.
Template – You are likely to produce more than one case study. So, try to stick to the same visual look. For instance, you could have a fact box with three or four point points near the top. Also, use the same section or paragraph headings. Readers then become familiar with how you present information. This makes reading and absorbing that information easier for them. Having a clear template makes writing case studies easier for you and your colleagues.
For more information about writing case studies, contact Adam Woolf or call 01788 335284.