How To Write A Case Study
Perhaps you have a service which is convoluted, difficult to explain or bespoke? If so, it can be hard to show the benefits to your potential clients.
Case studies can be a great tool if you have a service that people make assumptions about, or you have a brand new way of dealing with a problem. For example, if you help people to lose weight, they may assume there is a lot of exercise and gym time involved. A case study can show them how you specialise in dietary changes, and that exercise isn't necessary.
Maybe you've heard the saying 'don't tell, show' - and this is how a case study can help you.
Just in case you think that a case study will be tedious, well it doesn't have to be if you put it together in the right way. A case study is just a story, and our human brain just can't resist a story.
Let's Get Started On Writing Your First Case Study
It's just a story, so go through it step by step..and here's where to start:
What was the problem or challenge?
Try to put some flesh on the bones here and don't invent stuff, but do add in the human element. Include the real impact of the problem you solved, such as dropping sales, embarrassment, looking as though they had gone out of business, spending hours and hours going between different techie people trying to resolve a problem, frustration, etc.
Why hadn't it been solved before?
Why hadn't they been able to solve the problem before? Did they try to do it in-house without the right expertise? There are all sorts of reasons. Was it a lack of time, couldn't find the proper knowledge, coordination, understanding, cooperation or budget?
Who was involved?
Hopefully, you have the permission of your client to use all of their details such as names, business name, location, products and services etc. in your case study. If not, don't worry, you can still write one. It could be you can't use their details because of data-protection or confidentiality issues. Perhaps they're embarrassed by the problem you helped them solve, such as going bankrupt or a personal health issue. Maybe there are legal implications such as Human Resources or Court Case matters which mean you can't name people or organisations in your case study?
Well, you can still write it, you can describe the industry and the type of company in terms of the number of employees, turnover, company ethos and similar parameters without naming them. Do be careful though, if there is only one car dealership in a small town and you name the town - well, even if the cat isn't out of the bag, your client could feel vulnerable.
What you want to achieve is a story which gives your prospective clients picture of what happened, how the subject of the case study felt before and after your intervention, and to be able to identify themselves in the story.
What Was The Solution?
OK, do not hold back here. Sometimes, people tell us that they don't want to share everything they did because then the reader can just go and do it for themselves. However, anyone who is going to go and do it themselves instead of paying you is going to do that whether or not you tell them how to do it.
If you show them what to do to get the job done, that increases the chance of them recommending you to others and spreading the word about you. I was working with a client, and we were putting together a case study on their website (they were accountants), and I couldn't seem to get them past just saying that the solution to the problem was to employ, them, the wonderful accountants. The problem with this approach is that it doesn't really give a feel for how they work, for who they are as people, or know what their stuff.
When you share what you did, or what to do, you show others you know your stuff.
BUT - and here's where we get into the detail - you show them WHAT to do, not HOW to do it. So, if I was explaining in a case study about the problems of having a slow WordPress website, I might say that we:
* Smushed Images
* Changed the hosting,
Those are the WHAT has to be done to speed up the website.
To show people HOW to do it is the next stage on and would be training as a step by step guide with pictures, videos and a glossary to help with the technical terms.
Case Study Do's and Don'ts
Involve the client if possible and have a chat and tell them what you want to do, get their agreement and hopefully a lovely little testimonial to put at the end which explains how it was for them and adds credibility and social proof.
If you have a content creation budget, you could employ someone to approach your the client for you and create the case study. We like Case Study Ninja - who also have lots of examples on their website and an academy.
Do check the spelling and grammar and get someone else to read it through. We use Grammarly for spell checking. You can often get away with the odd spelling error on your blog, but not in a case study.
Use headings to break up your case study. You can just pinch the ones here. Using headings breaks up the text, makes it easier to scan and read through. A potential client may not need to read it word for word to decide to work with you. Headings will help them browse it so they get enough to be convinced whereas a formidable-looking page of text may just send them away.
Do use pictures if you can and if you have permission.
- Consider which of your projects would make a good case study. A good starting point could be your ideal client. Who is your favourite person to work with, and what services do you want to focus on delivering? What case study can you put together that will help your ideal client understand the benefits of working with you?
- Do the headings and flesh it out.
- Approach the client you worked with if that's appropriate
- If you can get a testimonial from them, even better, include this as well.
- Remember that people and their problem are at the heart of every case study.
- Get your case study out there. If you've published it on your website or blog, then share it. Use Canva to turn it into a document to print out and take with you when you are meeting clients. Stick it in a brochure or leaflet if you have one.
And finally, whatever your budget, a case study is a brilliant way to show people what you do and what you can do for them. Plus, the bonus is it gets you to take a micro look at what you're doing and get a real understanding of the value you deliver.
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Thanks for sharing 😘
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