Case studies are better than testimonials. They don’t just tell people that you’re great – they use storytelling to show potential customers how and why you add value.
If you’re writing case studies, here are six things you should be doing.
1. Approach it strategically
Chances are you’ll have heaps of case studies you can write about. But stop and think before you go off and spend a lot of time writing them all.
A case study should do two things:
- appeal to your ideal customer
- highlight one of your business’s particular strengths
Together, your case studies should build a detailed picture of all the ways your business adds value – and to whom. Each case study doesn’t have to cover everything – they should speak to one or two areas your business excels in. This takes the pressure off each case study but does mean you need to ensure you cover all your services and strengths, and touch on all the different kinds of customers and industries you can help.
This is another form of targeting, which will by its very nature make your case study more compelling to the right people.
2. Weave a tale
A case study is, at its heart, a story. It gives you the opportunity to show your customers how great you are, which is far more powerful than telling them.
Writing a story, if you remember back to primary school, means giving a beginning, middle and end.
Your case studies could follow this flow:
- Introduce your customer’s business.
- Outline their needs, goals and the challenges they faced.
- Summarise how you helped them overcome those challenges or meet those goals.
- Detail any obstacles you worked around or ways you made your client’s life easier.
- Show positive outcomes – with hard numbers ideally, although testimonials or anecdotal evidence from your client are great too.
3. Write descriptive headlines and subheads
Breaking your case study down into sections is great, especially if people will be reading them online.
Good headlines and subheads should give people a broad overview of your case study’s content. With that in mind, write section headers that describe the content not the section. Avoid headlines like Introduction or Background. Instead, give people a hint of what’s to come, in this case introducing the subject of the case study: Acme Inc: big ideas, no writers.
4. Frontload keywords
Never, never, never write for search engines – Google will change their algorithms and overnight your case study will be impossible to find.
That said, being mindful of how algorithms work will help keep your case study searchable and give more juice to your website.
This, as always, comes back to who might be reading your case study, and what language or ‘key words’ they would use to search for it. Then, write headlines and subheads with keywords right at the beginning. For example, this article’s headline is Case studies: a copy writer’s guide. It could easily have been A copy writer’s guide to great case studies. I decided that case study was a more important key word than writers, so crafted the headline with that phrase first.
5. Tell people how, specifically
You sold 400 more widgets than the previous month – great! Now tell me exactly how you did that. This will highlight one of your services or areas of expertise while also adding credibility to your promises. Don’t just say our great marketing advice. Detail the process instead – we interviewed hundreds of customers and realised something amazing. People would be far happier if they could buy the widgets online.
Don’t worry about giving away your IP, or showing your hand to your competitors. You’re not giving them access to your systems, documentation, staff, or your brain. The only thing they can do with this kind of information is be mad they didn’t think of it first.
6. Just start writing them
My most important tip is to just start writing case studies. So many businesses have great stories and never share them, paralysed by budget or time constraints, worried over annoying their clients, or simply afraid of putting themselves out there.
I’m here to tell you to put your big business undies on and get started. Writing case studies really do mean business.
If, after all that, you decide that you’re probably not the best case study writer for your business, we can help. We’ll work from bullet lists, or interview clients and key staff on your behalf.