What do you need to do in order to create a case study which adds value to the reader? First ask why are you writing them? What is it you want your case study to do? What do you want the reader of your case study to do? Here you are setting the intention and outcome of the case study before you've even started to type.
Secondly where are the case studies you write going to be read? Reading printed materials to desktop, tablet, email etc are different environments which result in different requirements and experiences. Think about the time someone has and provide them with the information they need.
Thirdly, what are you going to write? This can be one of the biggest challenges for businesses today. Our advice is to start writing at the beginning of a project. Create a project journal which records highlights and key information throughout the process to final completion. Whatever the time period of the project by completion you will have a draft document to create your copy.
Approach case studies as an investment in your business. Case studies are a sales tool as we mentioned above. They provide the perfect platform to share with prospects how you work, your quality approach and your capabilities. These are real experiences you are sharing and will influence a prospect choosing to work with you.
Having our own challenge of writing case studies for our IT and web development projects we've listed below some ways to approach constructing your case study.
Begin with a summary, a quick overview of what the project was, who for (if you have permission to mention your clients name) and what it achieved, i.e. what was the overall benefit to the customer.
Provide a client overview (with permission) including company name, location, size of business, industry and the nature of their presenting challenge which you resolved. These are all clear indications for a prospect to be able to relate to your client on an industry or geographical level for example.
This is your chance to show how your solutions (products/ services) can make a difference. Here you are preparing them to read further about what solution you did provide, and most importantly what benefit you and your business are to them.
Depending on the nature of the project, especially where it has technical elements, featuring project requirements can be helpful to set a benchmark for the reader to understand the specifications involved in the project. Alternatively, you might just extend this into the Project Overview.
Here is your opportunity to share what your solution was and how you implemented it. This can cover the first point of contact with your client and why they selected you i.e. tender process or online search. Include whether you did any site visits or consultations before the project went to the next stage. Share any project challenges, obstacles and how you managed to overcome them. Share your capabilities and your teams experience to deliver. Finally summarise the end result of your solution and its impact on your customer's business.
Referrals and reviews are still the most effective marketing tool. Build in a customer feedback system post project completion.
Images require approval from your customer and again if this isn't possible, use images which demonstrate the solution without identifying your customer. Video is great too as you can embed these into online case studies or share on your Youtube channel.
We've come up with some top tips below which we keep in mind when we are creating our cases studies.
Remember there is no right or wrong way to create a case study as long as your audience can relate to the applications, solutions and benefits, you will be potentially starting your customer relationship.