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Good writing is the key for effective case studies

Graphics | November 1, 2007 | By:

Casablanca. The Godfather. Citizen Kane. All of these classic, top-ranked movies have the same thing in common: superior plots. Their scripts flow effortlessly from beginning to end, with the bulk of the plot filled with enough problems, drama, and action to pack a punch and pique interest. And, by the time the credits roll, the main character’s dilemmas are resolved, leaving you feeling satisfied with having spent your time on a worthwhile event.

A well-written case study should do the same for your customer. Case studies aid in consumer interaction because they showcase on a personal level how your organization thinks and operates, formulates strategies, and molds ideas into tangible solutions. They are the crucial link between your customers’ needs and your business’s unique insights.

Like your favorite movies, effective case studies have a logical flow or “plot” that follows a logical beginning, middle, and end.

  • The beginning shows the problem that a past client of your business encountered.
  • The middle outlines how you helped to solve it.
  • The finale wraps up with an end result that demonstrates the return on investment.

It’s easy to create a list and rattle off what your organization can and cannot do, but it’s better to show your clients how you can really rock ’n’ roll under pressure. Read on.

  • Keep the case study short, preferably to one page, so it can be easily applied to other organizational marketing functions. This way, each case study can be reused as a trade-show handout piece, an addition to direct mail, or condensed for an e-newsletter.
  • Keep it simple by nixing industry buzzwords or too many numbers or statistics. If the technical information is essential, chart or graph it (because a picture is worth … well, you know). Connect with and impress your customers by speaking their language and keeping the language action-oriented.

Keep it specific by resisting the temptation to generalize. A case study that is targeted at a specific audience will deliver better results because clients will be able to connect on a deeper level with the business insight that applies directly to their expertise.

Ultimately, a case study is a marketing piece, so put as much effort and vigor into its creation as you would your advertising, public relations, and promotional efforts.

Heidi Strand is a partner/consultant at Blue Door Consulting, LLC in Oshkosh, Wis.,

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