writing a case study

Tips to create a compelling case study

We know the value of a good case study. First and foremost, a case study can drive conversation, engagement, and inspire action. It can also aid decision making for prospects by doing some of their legwork, providing evidence and many of the proof points that they need. All in all, a successful story can serve to develop a pipeline and shorten the sales cycle by making it easy for prospects to decide.

“87% of B2B tech companies agree; customer advocacy programmes are crucial for attracting modern buyers and increasing retention rates.”

The Role of Marketing in Customer Advocacy, June 2017, by Andrew LeClair and Mary Wardley, IDC #US42216117

With this in mind, I look at what goes into developing a case study that does all of this.

Preparation

Firstly, research is fundamental to any story. It’s about finding out as much as possible about the client. You need an understanding of their market, pain points and how they solved their problem before adopting your solution. It’s also important to find out about the person you will be interviewing. Try to understand their role in the organisation and their responsibilities.

To gather this background, set up a couple of meetings with members of your company who know the client inside and out – this could be an account manager, consultant or a salesperson. It’s also imperative to have a deep understanding of the technology they have adopted. Speak with your product specialist who can describe the value add of your solution and why there is a demand for it in that particular market. Try to get insights into high-level use cases and why prospects are interested in your solution. You should also find out about some of the more technical details such as the main features and USPs.

Create interview questions

Once this intelligence has been gathered, you’re ready to think about what you will ask the client. Make sure to structure the questions in how you wish to tell the story. For example, think about a start, a middle and an end. Create questions that will describe their organisation, its challenges, implementation, solution, benefits, and the future. Use the questions as an opportunity to gather statistics to illustrate scenarios they refer to, such as before and after results related to an issue.

Interview the right person

Think about the level of the person and what you want the story to tell when you plan whom you want to speak with. For example, you may want to involve the person in procurement, an implementation specialist, or champion of your product. Ideally, they will have the authority to approve it, too. Once you have identified this person, firstly contact them, set a date and time, and provide a clear brief and set their expectations.

Organise the logistics

Ensure that you have organised how you want to conduct the interview, for instance, will it be face-to-face or online? One week before, send your questions to the client to give them ample time to prepare. Also, test the technology that you plan to use. A few days before the session, send out a meeting request from Outlook and joining instructions with a short brief on what will happen. Also, request their consent for the recording and set any final expectations. It’s also helpful to send an email reminder the day before.

If you are conducting a web conference check that you are familiar with how to use the platform, how to record, and retrieve the recording.

Conduct the interview

At the start of the interview, explain that the session will be recorded. Ensure that any background noise is kept to a minimum and that there won’t be any interruptions. It’s useful to have the questions as a guide to conduct the session, however, be flexible and adapt the questions where required. You may want to ask a question that is relevant to the conversation that wasn’t scripted but will be relevant for the story.

After the session, retrieve the recording and transcribe the interview. Happy Scribe can help with this process, by capturing the interview in Word.

Create the story outline

Once the interview is captured, you can build a structure. Most case studies fall into company biography, challenge, the solution and benefits. Structures are there to emphasise the story, not constrain it. Tweak it to the story and give yourself four or five subheadings.

Draft the story. Think about the design

Now is the time to draft the story. Find quotes that you can extract from the transcript that will make the case study more credible. Read and re-read the story. Ask a few people to check the story grammatically and for any typos before you send it to the client to get their feedback and their signoff. In the meanwhile, think about the design and how this will help the reader navigate the story, highlight key quotes and the call to action.

What next?

Once you have your completed case study, then what? Next, comes – getting it out there, letting it be seen and generally making the most of this client success.

If you need support and help with creating case studies, then don’t hesitate to get in touch today.

Writing a case study How to write a case study
Penny Thorn
13/09/19