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  • Katy McKay

The dos and don'ts for writing a cracking case study

How do you write a really attention-grabbing case study that will help you squeeze every last drop of goodness from your favourite project?

A case study is a document that focuses on a business problem and solution. In marketing, this is often used to tell a story about a customer journey and how a product or service solves a specific issue.

A great case study is all about telling a success story - but where do you start?

Kick off with the 5 W’s

The 5 what now?

  • Who was involved?

  • What happened?

  • Where did it take place?

  • When did it take place?

  • Why did it happen?


If you include these first, your introduction virtually writes itself. The key is to keep these brief.

The main body of the case study should be divided into three main parts:

  • The challenge that was faced

  • The solution to that challenge

  • The benefits gained

Here are my top do’s and don’ts when writing your case studies.

DO

Tell a story

The best case studies tell a story, rather than roll out a timeline of facts. To create a story arc, start with a few sentences describing the situation, followed by a few sentences for "dramatic tension" for example, “X almost happened and Y threatened to derail the effort”. Finish with a few sentences tying the result to the value of your product or service.

DON’T

Make it about yourself

The wrong way to approach a case study is to make it about you and your process. The reader won’t care much about your motivation but more about the results your efforts created.

DO

Include compelling data

It's great that you worked with a certain company, but what did you really do for them? If you're going to show an increase in a certain metric, use the actual number. When you say something like "we increased conversions by 500%," people will think you just made it up. But if you show real numbers and even have the screenshots to back it up, it'll become more relevant and believable.

DON’T

Pick a client at random

Find a satisfied client who you delivered interesting, high-value work to. Make sure that they are comfortable providing a testimonial and that all parties involved are able to discuss the work.

DO

Think about creating a video case study.

A client talking directly to camera about how you helped them is very powerful and connects well with the audience.

DON’T

Bore us

It’s actually very easy to write a case study… that’s boring. It is important to break past that by creating case studies that strike at the very problem your dream client needs help with. Leading with a problem and demonstrating how you fixed it is the best way to get attention.




This list is not exhaustive. There’s much more to think about. But you won’t go far wrong if you choose to feature a story that wasn’t completely plain-sailing.

It can be difficult to tell a simple success story because projects are rarely simple. No matter; if you focus on the really important events: talk about how you overcame setbacks along the way, and remember that you’re the hero of the story.



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