7 tips to make your case studies shine

Before we dive into what your case studies need, perhaps a more fitting question is: Have you created any? If not, well, what are you waiting for? Chances are, you’ve helped countless clients achieve stellar results over the years. Why not share some of your successes in narrative form? When well-written, case studies convey several key pieces of information to potential clients:

  1. Insider knowledge of the challenges that customers face on a daily basis
  2. Why your company is uniquely positioned to address these challenges
  3. The type of results that customers can expect when they work with you

Think of a case study as an in-depth testimonial. It’s an opportunity to highlight your customer’s hard work and success. It also showcases your ability to help solve a problem, address a challenge, or improve a process — all with quantifiable results.

Here are some tips to help you create a compelling case study:

Tip #1: Pick the right customer. Not every customer is willing (or able) to share their thoughts for a case study. For example, a customer may be open to the opportunity but prohibited by their HR department to speak about internal processes. Another customer might speak highly of your services but not yet have meaningful results to share. Pick someone who had a positive experience with your company, who achieved quantifiable results, who has been cleared for participation, and who is willing to spend the time necessary to answer questions and review content once it’s written.

Tip #2: Include an ‘at a glance’ summary. Not everyone will have the time (or interest) to read the case study in its entirety. That’s why it’s important to ‘call out’ certain key takeaway points in two short sidebars: Challenges and results. Be concise — 10 words or fewer for each challenge and result.

Tip #3: Describe the customer so readers have context. This also often works well as a short sidebar. For example, when featuring a hospital client, include the type of hospital, number of beds, and location. For physician practices, include the specialty, monthly patient volume, and location.

Tip #4: Include real results. I can’t stress this enough. Don’t just say that you helped reduce readmissions or increase revenue. Provide specific numbers or percentages. This makes the case study more credible and impactful.

Tip #5: Seek empathy from the start. The best way to engage readers is to strike a nerve in the first sentence. Connect with readers emotionally by diving into the customer’s challenge and the effect it had on his or her business. In some ways, this is no different from a good fictional novel. If the first sentence catches your eye, you’ll read the next one…and the next one, and so on. Chances are, most readers will relate to your customer’s challenge and want to continue reading to learn more about how you helped solve the problem.

Tip #6: Include quotes, but be selective. No case study is complete without honest and insightful quotes from your customer. Quotes bring the story to life and insert a human element into the narrative. Choose quotes that express opinions, emotions, or unique expressions. Stay away from quotes that recap facts or that don’t add a new dimension to the content you’ve already written.

Tip #7: Conclude with a call to action. Don’t forget to prompt readers to contact your company for more information. Include your phone number, email address, and website at the end of the case study.