Case Studies are a great way of showing clients and customers how you can solve their problems. A lot of copy on websites focuses far too heavily on listing abilities, rather than solving the readers’ ‘pain points’.
Case Studies prove that you understand your audience and show them that solving complex problems is ‘just another day in the office’ for you and your colleagues. Showing, rather than telling, is an effective method for writing motivating marketing copy.
So why aren’t we all writing more case studies? One reason might be that the case studies we’re used to reading are far too long. The idea of writing a lengthy case study is a daunting prospect. It doesn’t need to be this way.
Your case study will have a more significant impact if it is more like a brief pamphlet than an epic saga. Visitors to your website are far more likely to read a short, punchy, case study than a rambling, in-depth analysis.
I recently started chatting with some friends about case studies and claimed that writing case studies should be simple. My argument is that if you know your clients, then gathering together the facts needed for a case study should be easy. Figuring out what to put in a case study should only take 10 minutes. It’s a bold claim, so I decided to share a method in this article.
At this point I need to give some context, and probably spoil a little of the ‘magic’ that surrounds the art of writing for business. Contrary to popular belief writers don’t lounge around on bean bags, staring into the middle-distance, idly tapping their chin with a pen and waiting for inspiration to strike. We use templates and formulas. We might spend a lot of time finessing words, but many the methods have been around for a very long time.
The 10-minute template for writing kickass case studies
Start by following the formula below. Write down a few simple ideas for each section, then expand. This part of the process should take less than ten minutes.
If the ideas don’t flow smoothly it might be worth choosing a different client or pain point for your case study. If your article outline is challenging to create, the final article will probably be challenging to read.
Title / Headline
80% of the power of your case study is in the title. If you don’t grab the reader’s attention with your title, then your hard work will be ignored. When you have published your case study, you’ll likely post a link to it from your social network profiles. When your target audience is skimming through posts, your title needs to connect to them and should make your link difficult to disregard. Think of your title as an advert, because that’s what it is.
Use your title to show readers exactly what problem or pain point you solved for your clients and customers. Sometimes a quote from a client can make a great headline.
‘My house was infested with wasps until I called the wasp-whisperer!’
Your case study title should spark curiosity, identify with people having the problem your business solves, and make them desperate to find out more. If your potential client has a house full of wasps, they need to be left without doubt that clicking the link through to your case study will solve all their problems.
From this point, you can carve your case study into three main chunks. I recommend keeping paragraphs short and snappy for case studies. The case study is a rough outline of what makes you the right person to solve the readers’ problems.
This case study is not an in-depth analysis of wasp-whispering. If you are a professional wasp-whisperer, and I’m starting to regret using this weird example, then you deeply care about the finer points of whispering to wasps, your client does not. They have wasp issues, and they do not want wasp issues; you are their saviour in a black and white stripy jumper (I’d like to think that if wasp-whisperers exist they dress like wasps).
Case study chunk one
State the problem you solved for your client/customer. If appropriate, elaborate on what the negative outcome of ignoring the issue might be. We want the reader to think
‘That’s me, and I’ve got wasps at my house!’.
Then we want them to think something along the lines of,
‘Hells’ teeth, I must not ignore the wasps!’
Explain how you solved the client’s issue and explain how your expertise and experience solved the problem efficiently/profitably. We want the reader to think,
‘Mercy me, I had no idea my wasp worries could be fixed with so little inconvenience to me! I’m glad I found the wasp-whisperer; I must call them today!’
Relate the experience of your customer directly to your reader. Speak directly to them. Make it clear they are just a phone call away from experiencing the joy of waking up every morning without being covered head to toe in marauding, troublesome wasps.
Everyone likes a happy ending, so sign off by illustrating how wonderful/simple and profitable life is for your client since you solved their problem for them. At the very end of your case study include a call to action. Ask the reader to contact you to talk about their wasp woes. You care. You want to talk about wasps. You wake up every morning desperate to leap out of bed and head out for another day of gently convincing wasps to leave the homes of your customers.
The examples I’ve given for each chunk in this formula are extreme but valid. A good case study should make it as clear as a loud ringing bell that you are the obvious choice to solve the ‘pain points’ your readers are experiencing. You have a proven track record of solving the exact issues your audience are struggling with. You are an experienced, efficient and effective pill for their pain.
If the claims you are making in your case studies might be viewed as wild by your readers, then back them up with facts. Statistics are a great motivator (and are worth including), but peppering your case study with quotes from your customers injects a useful and relatable element that adds plausibility.
Readers are unlikely to be motivated to contact you if you focus on telling them how great you are. If you show them how great your customers know you are, well, that’s a different story. Remember — we all like stories with a happy ending.