How To Write Perfect Case Studies

Normally, when I talk to you about copywriting I hark on about how case studyimportant it is to write about the benefits of the product you are trying to sell.

That’s because benefits are the vital element to make your reader understand that you product is for them and so are a copywriter’s best friend.

However with the Case Study you have the prime opportunity to bring your benefits to life by dramatising them.

It’s not an easy road

Writing case studies isn’t easy, but the time and effort you spend honing them will be well worth it.

Testimonials are great, but case studies will carry more weight.

Why?

Because they are perceived as being truthful; you are telling your reader a story. Your case study will have a hero (your customer), a predicament (the problem they face), a narrative (what you did and why) and finally a happy ending.

So how can you be sure you write a compelling, interesting and relevant case study?

7 tips to creating a winning case study

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that writing a case study is simple. It isn’t. There are a lot of bad ones out there so I’ve put together a few tips for you to help you create a winner.

  1. Tell it from your customer’s perspective otherwise it will just come across as a piece of hype. Readers will be able to relate to your customer, after all they may well be facing the same problems. Let’s face it they probably are – if they weren’t why would they be reading your case study?
  2. Use real people in your photos if you can. Not everyone will be willing to do that but it adds weight to your case study if you can.
  3. Include as many facts and figures as you can. And give specific examples of what you did to solve their problem. Wishy-washy information will get you absolutely nowhere.
  4. People love pictures so use shots of your customers premises, machinery or whatever is relevant to your case study. This will add a sense of realism that you can’t achieve by using stock images.
  5. Let your client speak directly. Include plenty of relevant quotes and make sure you attribute them to the right person (including their full name and position). This is a great opportunity to present a new voice to your case study – try and use their language to add authenticity.
  6. Give it a good structure – a brief introduction to your customer, what their problem was, how you solved it, what the outcome was and future implications for them/their business.
  7. Make sure it is clear how they benefited from your product/service/expertise. This is crucial. If you tell your reader how your customer benefited they will associate that with how THEY will also benefit.

Now for things you don’t want in your case study

As I’ve already mentioned, your case study is your opportunity to prove to your readers that you can do something amazing.

If you want to sell something to a specific audience, you’ve got to prove to them they need it and that you’re good – very good.

Below are list of 4 elements you don’t want in your case study:

  1. A beginning that talks at length about your customer’s business. If you want to add information about their company, turnover or premises etc., put it in boxes at the side of your case study.
  2. Challenge and solution but without the results. Proof is the name of the game and without results you have proved absolutely nothing.
  3. No quotes. Your customer’s voice is essential. They need to speak to your reader and tell them precisely what you did for them and the results they have seen as a result.
  4. Dull narrative. Long words, complex sentences, excessive jargon, and an awkward flow create a boring case study. If no one wants to read it how can you prove yourself to them?

More and more people out there are taking an increasingly cynical view of “marketing speak”. Unsubstantiated claims are boring and damaging to your business.

People love to read about other people and their experiences and case studies provide the perfect vehicle for a friendly and non-salesy look at your business. Of course they are also superb vessels for a bit of stealth marketing – but hey! You’re proving what you do works, there’s no hard sell.

Sally Ormond – freelance copywriter

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7 comments ↓

#1 Matt Pattinson (copywriter) on 02.02.10 at 3:13 pm

Hey, thanks for the fact-filled post, really enjoyed it. I agree case studies do carry a lot of weight and you’ve laid down a succinct road-map to success for those who wish to follow it. Regards

#2 admin on 02.02.10 at 3:16 pm

Hi Matt,

Thanks for that. Yes, case studies can be really powerful when written well. They can give a whole new perspective on a product which can really highlight the benefits. It’s so important to get them right, because if they’re not it really is an opportunity missed.

#3 Peter on 09.22.10 at 12:13 pm

Thanks for these case studies. They will prove a good help for all. Keep on posting such stuffs.

#4 Peter Wise on 09.08.11 at 10:12 am

Couldn’t have put it better myself – excellent advice for creating case studies.

#5 Scott on 05.21.12 at 8:47 pm

Great tips, however you contradict yourself. In the “7 Tips to creating a winning case study” section, you mention the power of relevant quotes from the client.

However, in the “Things you don’t want in your case study” section you admonish “no quotes”.

Which is it?

#6 admin on 05.22.12 at 7:55 am

Hi Scott,

oops – a double negative has caused you to read that incorrectly. The section under ‘Things you don’t want in your case study’ refers to the fact that you don’t want to forget to include quotes. Quotes are essential to add authenticity and weight to your case study therefore you don’t want to forget to include them.

Should have made that clearer, but I hope you get the gist now.

Thanks for your comments.

Sally

#7 Writing Case Studies for a Newbie on 01.23.13 at 7:39 pm

[...] Freelance Copywriter’s Blog says, “Testimonials are great, but case studies will carry more weight. Why? Because they are perceived as being truthful; you are telling your reader a story.” [...]

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