A case study is only good if people actually read it. It’s great when they follow through and contact you for more information. Here are seven attributes that contribute to a strong case study.
- It’s about the customer, not your product. Studies are showing that much of the content on the Internet isn’t interesting, largely because it focuses on the product, not the customer and their problem.
- It’s about an issue potential customers are grappling with today or tomorrow. For the story to be relevant and of interest, it must talk about issues companies are currently facing, or know they will face in the near term.
- It’s about someone your potential customer can relate to. Potential customers must be able to relate to the hero of your story in an emotional way – it will help make the story believable. If your target readers are CIOs, then the story should focus on a CIO’s journey to success.
- The story is told from start to finish. This can be tougher than it sounds – you’ve got to have the patience to wait until your solution is fully implemented and operational before the story has real teeth. Anything before then is unproven and will come across as sales information.
- It clearly identifies the customer challenges, what your solution was, and how you helped the customer. Provide the kind of detail that allows readers to clearly understand what your solution is and why it helped solve the customer problems – this allows readers to draw parallels to their own situation and understand the value you offer them.
- It talks about real results. Quote results in terms that readers care about: % improvement in revenues, % decrease in costs, or % improvement in efficiencies. Whatever the key performance indicators are, find that information and share as much as you can.
- It’s easy and enjoyable to read. Case studies should be formatted for scanning – use bullets, callout boxes, sidebars and headings, and make sure the important information is easy to find in the story. They should be written in a conversational tone that doesn’t talk down to readers. Quote your customer and allow the story to be told in their words. It should be a good story – it’s about people, so try to evoke emotion, which makes the situation more real to readers.
Did you notice?
Only point #7 actually talks about how to write the story. Most of the success of a case study comes from the careful planning and strategy that happens even before the writer is involved. Want to learn more? Sign up and I’ll forward you my Case Study Planning Guide, scheduled for release in May 2015!