Jeremy Clarkson can help you write better case studies

Top Gear

Top Gear can teach us a lot about writing punchy, attention-grabbing case studies.

I’ve been discussing case studies this week. Specifically, how you grab a reader from the very beginning and make them want to call your company.

And my advice (to often bemused clients) is to go and watch clips of Top Gear on YouTube.

Because it’s a show comprised of case study after punchy case study, delivered in interesting, sound-bite chunks.

An intro on the show tends to follow classic case study format:

The challenge: They said we couldn’t drive an ice cream van through this snake-infested swamp.

What we did: So we took the fan from an airboat and the base of a paddling pool. The results were nothing short of brilliant.

The close is equally succinct.

The result: Fourteen hours later and the lollies have melted. The fan is in a tree. But we can still play Greensleeves.

Now, I’m not suggesting that Clarkson’s approach to vocabulary is right for corporate organisations. But his approach to messaging and sentence structure absolutely is.

Top Gear case studies have oomph. They get straight to the point. They talk about what’s interesting to their audience – and they have passion and personality.

Which is why the show has a following of gazillions all over the world.

Websites and corporate brochures, on the other hand, are often full of case studies written like university essays or scientific reports. And they feel like the author is jolly well going to make you read ALL of this, because it’s taken them AGES to write it.

And that’s a bit daft. Because a commercial case study is a selling tool – and if you’re not setting out to make your reader interested and intrigued, you really can’t expect it to sell anything.

Here’s what the Top Gear treatment can do:

(Apologies to the author, but this case study is hard work to read.)

Before

Faraday produces low volumes of bespoke printed circuit boards and supplies larger volumes of printed circuit boards, which it commissions from partners in the Far East. The niche market low volume, quick turnaround work is produced in Washington however, and on average 600 different products per month are manufactured.

You can read the full story here.

After

(Remember, voice of Clarkson in your head.)

How do you take an already successful factory and significantly ramp up its productivity? You make learning a strategic activity.

After a decade of boosting skills, Faraday has a more motivated, involved and regulatory compliant workforce. And that is all thanks to a programme from Investors in People.

Which one is more likely to make you read on?

If you’re ever struggling with case studies, just get the voice of Clarkson in your head. And then let him write them.

Or of course, you could ask us to do it for you. Or you could come to one of our workshops to learn how to become a more effective writer.

2 Responses to “Jeremy Clarkson can help you write better case studies”

  1. Simon Turton

    Dear Wordtree

    What a great post. I would have never have connected the writing of case studies with Top Gear, but you’re absolutely right. We have to produce case studies and e-newsletters, but sometimes you think it would be more exciting for the recipient to read about watching paint dry. Now, with your approach (and with JC on my shoulder) — and I agree it won’t work for every client — I think that it will add real impact and will encourage the reader to want to, well, read.

    This will be music to my boys’ ears, who both love the show and will be very impressed if they think it can help to improve your writing skills.

    I only stumbled across your website by chance but it is one that I will bookmark and return to.

    Best wishes

    Simon Turton

  2. Liz

    Hi Simon,

    Glad you found it useful. Just remember WWCS? (What Would Clarkson Say).
    It always makes case studies more interesting to read… and tons more fun to write.

    Thanks for bookmarking us – hopefully we’ll see you back here soon,

    Liz

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