Make a persuasive case

Case studiesA well-written case study tells a story.

It takes a situation, identifies a problem, proposes an action or series of actions. Then it charts the progress of those activities until it can draw a conclusion.

A case study should show the reader that you not only understand their problem - you also have the experience to resolve it.

Case studies can be as long or short as you need them to be. The important thing is that they should be truthful and convey the facts in either a chronological order or in a logical sequence of events.

(As an example, my next blog post is a case study I’ve put together based on a copywriting project.)

Why use a case study

Companies wary of coming across as too hard sell often use case studies to illustrate their capabilities.

A case study can be applied to pretty much any scenario. It can be used to analyse an event, a project or a problematic situation.

In a commercial environment, it’s a great way of demonstrating a new product or service without appearing too salesy.

Case studies should avoid hype and promotion. Readers should be able to engage with the story as it naturally unfolds.

How to put a case study together

First, summarise the background of the situation. You could also mention a few things you’ve tried that didn’t work.

Then describe the approach you took and include plenty of facts and figures and give genuine examples. It’s not enough just to say that you achieved results. Remember the scene in the film Working Girl where Melanie Griffith explains her thought process to the banker to prove that she (rather than Sigourney Weaver) came up with the idea for his investment?

I digress, but the point is that it’s this element that shows you’re telling the truth. For your reader, it’s just as necessary to show evidence of how you reached your goal as it is to offer a satisfactory ending.

Draw a conclusion

In summary, if you’re using a case study to engage customers you must focus on the benefits to them.

How will your product or service help them? Will it make their lives easier? Does it have ongoing or future implications?

But avoid jargon, sales speak, advertising and self-promotion.

Include (depending on where your case study is to be published) contact details, website and email address, links to further studies, testimonials or pertinent information.

Related post: Case studies: the advertorial