writing case studies

4 Tested Strategies for Writing Case Studies

A well-written case study is a valuable sales and marketing tool. It can demonstrate your organization’s success and ability to perform. In this article, find tips on how to set your strategy, select a format and share your success.

1. Determine your strategy before writing your first line.
To start, think about your goals and the efforts your case studies will support. These early decisions should drive the format of your case study, as well as where and how it’s showcased. If you’re posting it to your website, consider where you’d like to share it, identifying the graphics or videos you’ll need upfront.

Once you’ve chosen a format, determine which clients you’d like to highlight. Selecting projects with a great story to tell is a no-brainer. However, it’s important to also make sure you’re showcasing a variety of services, client types and locations.

In some cases, you may need to get client buy-in. Start that process early, gathering quotes and data points. Get a sense of your contact’s availability and realistic turnaround times to develop an accurate launch schedule. You may also need to keep the organization’s name private or let them complete a final review. Knowing that before you begin writing will keep you from duplicating efforts later on.

2. Create a consistent and effective case study format.
Most case studies follow a standard formula – challenges followed by solutions. However, they can take a variety of different forms. Some Dotted Line clients use long format articles, while others have chosen short, easy-to-read summaries with lots of bullet points. The key is to choose a method that aligns with your brand’s voice, mission and goals. Then, use your first case study as a template for the rest. Employing the same approach each time creates consistency and simplifies the process.

For articles, start by identifying the challenge. The first section should clearly communicate how the issue was impacting your client or their stakeholders and why it was a problem. Here, you may include a little background on the client, depending on the strategy you’ve selected.

Next, the case study should outline the solution. Detail the project scope, highlighting any interesting solutions or unusual aspects. This is the perfect place to show your expertise and skills used. But, most importantly, this section should demonstrate the benefits. If you have data to back up your claims, include those stats here.

Often, organizations may choose additional criteria to highlight. This could be as simple as a bulleted list of project highlights or as advanced as a graphic showing compelling stats. Either way, these elements should align with your organizaiton’s differentiator and overall point-of-view.

Summarize the project’s results in the last and final paragraph. In addition to illustrating why your work was beneficial, this is the perfect place to include a call to action. Be sure to have a plan in place for how you’ll respond. You’ll need to know the point person, if any materials are needed, and what the ask will be on follow-up. For example, emails may go to a general inbox. Loop in the person who routinely checks it, letting them know to whom they should forward the messages. Then, create standard response language with an invitation to meet or schedule a call, giving that to your point of contact.

3. Collect compelling quotes and testimonials.
Testimonials and quotes provide a personal element to case studies. They also show readers the results are backed by the featured client. When it comes to getting this information, we recommend asking the client if they’d like to provide a quote or if they’d prefer to review and edit options ghost-written by your marketing team. We’ve found the second approach to be most effective.

If your team is creating the testimonials, be sure to have the client review his or her title and the organization name at the same time. When sending all the materials, clearly communicate your plans and ask for any supporting imagery needed, like a logo or headshot. Let them know when you’d like feedback and your target date for sharing the case study. Be clear about where it will be featured and how it will be used.

4. Share your success story.
At the beginning of this process, you and your team should have identified your goals. The channels you use to share your case study should connect with those. Often, case studies are featured on websites. But, consider how it will be shared. For example, it might make a great feature story for your newsletter, or it could be converted into a piece of collateral for a tradeshow.

Posting a link to the case study on social media is never a bad idea. Draft sample posts along with the case study to save yourself time in the future. Be sure you have great visuals in place, and don’t forget to tag the client showcased in the article.

If you included quotes or testimonials, think of how you can repurpose those. Adding it to your company’s database, including them in proposals or developing standalone posts for social media are all solid approaches. In some cases, it may form the basis for a future presentation or award submittal.

Let’s create compelling case studies together. Contact us for more details about our approach and how it could work for your organization.