The complete guide to writing a compelling case study

Case studies are stories about how an actual customer overcame their problems using your products or services. Just like a story, good case studies have a beginning, a middle, and an end, as well as a protagonist – your customer – overcoming a problem and achieving their objective, just like the main character of a story.

Case studies are more than a simple testimonial from a customer – they speak to specific needs and customer pain.

Despite the prevalence of marketing case studies and their potential impact, most of them are dull, boring, and forgettable.

By the end of a case study, the reader should be able to visualize themselves as the hero of their own story. They should be able to relate to the problems of your featured customer, and see themselves achieving their own goals by using your product or service.

Case studies are vastly under leveraged, yet often more effective than brochures and traditional sales materials. In this guide, I’ll outline everything you need to write a compelling case study. We’ll cover the structure of a case study, hot tips and what case studies can do for your brand.

The structure of a Case Study

While there is no singular magic formula for writing an effective case study, most exceptional case studies contain similar elements. These elements include:

  • The problem/challenge: What problem or pain was the customer facing before encountering your product or service? How serious was it?
  • The approach: How did She try to solve the problem? How did She hear about you? What did you do differently?  
  • The result/outcome: Result terminates insults. What measurable outcomes did your innovative approach deliver?  Outline the results and leave no one in doubt that your product/service is the optimal solution for the problem.

Hot tips for making your case studies pop

Identify a Compelling Angle

Earlier in the month, we wrote a case study about Taiwo Oluga: a political aspirant whom we worked with to leverage the web and connect with young voters. The compelling angle here is how She connected to young voters and won the election. And we made sure this shone through. The more compelling your angle, the better the story. The better the story, the more engaging your case study will be.

Find and use interesting customers

All customer experiences are not equal. Period.

Focus on the remarkable, hilarious, exciting examples of how your services brought immense value to a customer. Are any of your customers using your business to solve difficult or unusual problems? Get creative when searching for someone to serve as the basis for your next case study.

Use Data to Illustrate Key Points

When Brené Brown said, “A story is data with a soul”, she was emphasizing this: even though your case study is a story, you should not overly rely on anecdotes or essays to make your points. Data is your best friend when writing a case study. Use numbers, infographics and contrasts to show results. Peter Drucker said it best, “You cannot manage what you cannot measure”.

What case studies can do for your brand

Now that you understand the structure and tips for writing a compelling case study, let’s dive into some of tangible reasons case studies matter.

It Positions Your Brand as an Authority in your niche

A case study with a well-known brand or a case study of how you helped a startup or upstart slay a Goliath helps you elevate your brand. Prospects think to themselves, “if you can help them, you can help me too”.

It Provides Social proof

Our case study of Mrs Ramatu’s GEW campaign highlights how we turned her from a critic to an ambassador by helping her run a successful campaign ultimately leading to her hosting a super successful event as well as winning an award (and hugely upsetting the bigger states). Case studies like this provide social proof by highlighting exceptional customer experiences.

Today, customers have become more demanding. They look at product reviews, read case studies, ask their friends and Google your brand before they buy.

If you want to grab attention without sounding salesy, if you want to increase sales on a conservative budget, if you want to attract clients that pay well and even say thank you, invest in case studies. Business schools will soon study your case.

For more insightful content like this, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.