What is a case study?

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What is a case study?

June 2018
Copestone case studies

A case study is the story of how your product or service solved challenges for one of your stakeholders, such as a customer. It’s a terrific way to tell how you worked with a client to make their business function better, save money, or make more money. Another example might be a story about how you’ve tackled homelessness in your region, or improved patient outcomes in one of your treatment streams.

If your case study hits all three targets and involves a well-known company leaving a competitor for your business, this is a gift, full of marketing promise and a tale that should not be left untold.

How should I structure my case study?

Most case studies are structured similarly around a description of the client company, the challenge it was facing, the steps it took to try and fix it, how you stepped in to analyse the problem and delivered the solution, and the impact and benefit this made.

But this format is not compulsory; you could, instead, create a Q & A layout, or write it as a feature article with illustrations and captions. You could even consider using an infographic (see our blog on this), if the story would fit that format. Whatever you decide, key to a good case study is to tell your stakeholder’s story in a way that will interest other people facing similar challenges, who might then contact you to help them solve theirs.

Choosing a case study title

Use a title that tells your target audience what they want to know. The best title, much like a strong newspaper headline, will centre around an active verb as this gives the story a sense of immediacy and relevance to the reader.

Something like: ‘A N Other company saves £££ by refitting water softening processes, leading to a 15% rise in sales.’ Or perhaps ‘Diabetes treatment improves outcomes by X% as XYZ NHS Foundation Trust implements new strategy’.

If your case study is to be a webpage, then also consider search engine optimisation (SEO).  What keywords will your target audience use to search for information about your organisation? Perhaps try using some search phrases in Google to see what generates similar results to your case study story and use these in your title.

What contents should a case study include?

Three key must haves in any case study are:
  • Challenge
  • Solution
  • Benefit/impact.

You can simply structure your case study with these three headings but, for many readers, this approach might be too abrupt. Engage with your audience by telling a story, setting the scene, providing the details, and concluding with a strong takeaway.

Testimonials

Your audiences trust each other more than they trust you. Known as ‘social proof’, this is a rule of the internet jungle and why websites like TripAdvisor exist. A testimonial from a satisfied client is a first-hand recommendation for why they bought your service and not someone else’s. It’s no surprise then that testimonials – alongside case studies themselves – are among the most effective content formats for influencing sales.

Testimonials can stand alone, but they are also great to include alongside a case study. Pull-out quotes (often shortened to ‘pull quotes’) are short testimonials from a client which can be made prominent within the case study through clever design and are often accompanied by the client’s company logo and / or a photo of the person quoted.

Word of warning: always ensure the case study and any accompanying quotes are checked and approved by someone responsible for external communications within your client organisation before using it in the public domain.

We can help

Creating a case study is a detailed and intense task, especially if writing is not your main strength or your job role. If you don’t feel up to tackling it yourself, but you have a great customer success story to tell, get in touch with us to discuss how we can help.

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What can we do for you?

For a no obligation discussion about how we can help you meet your marketing and communication objectives call or email us.

+61 (03) 9863 7463 mail@copestone.com.au