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What is a case study?

A case study is an example of a project a company has delivered. A case study sets out what the company did at each stage, and why and how their work was successful.

Why are case studies useful?

A case study can be a really useful sales tool. This is because case studies help potential customers see how people – or businesses – like them have used your services, and what this has allowed them to do as a result. In this way, a case study can make your offer feel more relevant to potential customers. Case studies are also a useful way to show what working with you will be like. And they can offer reassurance that you are focused on your customers’ success.

How should you use case studies?

Keeping an up-to-date bank of case studies on your website shows that your experience of particular aspects of work is also up-to-date and relevant. You can also keep a catalogue of case studies to use as part of your ongoing new business development. So for example, if you are pitching or tendering for a new opportunity, it can be really helpful to have a ready-prepared library of case studies to choose from to support your bid.

What should be in a case study?

Most case studies start by setting out a challenge. For example: ACME Plc was experiencing high levels of absenteeism. They then outline briefly what your company did. For example: So they asked us to investigate possible causes – which we did with our proprietary survey software. They then explain what makes this particular approach so special/accurate/fast/helpful – whether it’s specially coded algorithms or unexpectedly high levels of customer service and attention to detail. Some case studies detail any particular challenges or bumps in the road that happened through a project – which makes the case study feel more believable, and shows prospective customers that you can deal with issues, should they come up. And typically, case studies finish with a results section – what happened as a result of the project – and a testimonial from the customer.

Are there different types of case studies?

Case studies can certainly vary in length. Sometimes you only need a very short flavour of what your company did (and sometimes, say in a public sector tendering document, you only have a very limited amount of space to do so too).

For other occasions – like on your website, or for an award entry – you might need a much longer and more detailed case study.

When we write longer case studies for our clients, we always create them so they can be easily shortened – or have testimonials pulled out of them. In this way, they act as a multi-purpose case study kit, as well as a stand-alone piece.

Which kinds of organisations use case studies?

All sorts of organisations use case studies. But they tend to become more useful the more expensive, or the more intangible or complex, a product or service is. So a customer about to buy a new bottle of shampoo probably won’t bother reading a case study about it. However, an end consumer looking to install an expensive alarm system in their home – or an extension or a stair lift – may read case studies to help them understand the product/service, and help them decide whether the benefits of it are worth the investment.

In a B2B environment, case studies are super-useful, because they help a) to explain what your service/product is, b) show its benefits and c) show that other businesses like the prospective client’s is using it too.

How do you write a case study?

Start by thinking: What problem did we help to solve? How did we make our client’s life better? Answer this question, and you’re on your way. Then think about what makes your service or product different and special – and more able to overcome the type of challenge you talk about in the first part. Then get results. Ask your client to share results with you – or at least to give you a testimonial, outlining what you are like to work with, and why your product or service worked so well for them.

We’ve shared some thoughts about writing case studies on LinkedIn. You can read them here.

Alternatively, you can ask Wordtree for help writing and keeping on top of your case studies. Give us a call – we’d love to hear about your organisation.