11 Dec, 2021

The Art and Science of Drafting a Compelling Case Study

A case study is an indispensable part of a tech B2B content marketer’s arsenal. And not without reason. A customer going on record to say how the solution helped them is incredibly more convincing than a company sales representative speaking about the benefits of their products. It is, without doubt, a much more credible way to showcase a company’s products and solutions.

However, it is a powerful content marketing tool only if it is done right. While one should be open to exploring new ways of writing a case study, the tried and tested structure works very well. There’s really no need to reinvent the wheel. However, there are some tips and tricks that can boost content development and turn a run-of-the-mill case study into a piece of art.

Here’s how you can write a compelling case study that will continue to deliver value for a long time:

A set formula

The formula for case study content writing is simple and, more importantly, fail-proof. Just follow this logical structure and save yourself both time and grief. You will thank us later for this!

A set formula
Company background
Challenge / Problems
Benefits / Results
Customer quote

The company background section should be crisp without going into its history and achievements. Ideally, it should not be more than 100-150 words and should briefly explain the core area of operations of the customer. Next comes the challenge. Make sure you present the challenges expansively and in easy-to-understand language. When writing the solution, avoid marketing jargon and stick to the basics. Finally, talk about the solution’s potential and the different use cases it can deliver.

The benefits or results section is, without doubt, the most critical part of the case study and needs to be written as lucidly as possible. Make sure you focus on key four to five benefits such as cost savings, business efficiency, minimal downtime or enhanced security, among others. Next in the chronology comes the customer quotes or testimonials. This should ideally be a glowing review that stresses on the benefits of using that particular solution, the overall experience of working with the vendor and if relevant, then touch upon the future plans to work together again. Lastly, tie it up all neatly by summarising the key points.

Speaking to the customer

Now that the structure is clear, let’s get into how you can start your case study. The information you obtain from the user sets the stage for a great case study. It also decides if you will be able to ensure effortless content creation later on or will be hunched over your laptop for hours on end. This is the crucial part, and it goes without saying that you need to be extremely thorough here.

Start with doing your research on the end-user or the customer. Here it makes sense to understand the industry and the challenges and opportunities faced by the sector in that particular geography. Then set up the call with the spokesperson. Ideally, try to get in touch with someone involved with the deployment as they would be able to give you in-depth information.

Prepare your questions in advance. The core purpose of the interview with the customer is to understand the core functional area of the company, why they opted for that particular solution, how the implementation or deployment process worked, and the tangible benefits of the same.

Ask them which product they implemented, how they decided on it, which other solutions were in the play, and which features helped lock in the decision. Then focus on the solution part of the case study. Cull out the business benefits they derived. Ask them to illustrate with examples. This is the part of the case study only they can tell you. So, ensure you make the best of the call by getting as much information as you can.

Good interviewing skills are crucial to getting the information. Sometimes one has to speak to technical staff to get the data, and they are unable to articulate the benefits or are not well-versed with giving the information in a structure. So, you will need to ask several supplementary questions or speak with many people to get the required information.

Lastly, ask the customer their opinion on what they think the case study should highlight. For example, it could be a disruptive benefit or statistic on cost reduction.

Try to get some data points regarding the impact of the deployment. The use of data points makes it easy to highlight the impact of the deployment. The benefits should be as tangible as possible. Let’s compare the below two sentences:

1. The solution helped the company enhance operational efficiency by reducing downtime.

2. The solution enabled the company to reduce downtime by 70%.

The second one is more impactful because it quantifies and clearly conveys the business benefit.

Further, try to get information on how it has made life easier for the customer. For instance, the process might have been more time-consuming or expensive before the solution deployment and so on. The comparison of before and after makes the case study richer while highlighting the benefits.

Speaking to the customer
Once you have all the information, you need to start drafting the case study. Every writer has his/her own process of writing. I start with creating an outline of what the case study will look like.

Create a structure
The above-mentioned magic formula is an excellent place to start. Next, I allot word counts to each section basis what I want the final word count to be. For example, the company background can be 50-100 words, challenge 150 words, solution 150 words, benefits 300 words, and so on. While this word count is not set in stone, it helps stay in the required word count ballpark.

Lead with your biggest win
Remember we said you should ask your customer what they think the case study should highlight? That probably is their most significant benefit or takeaway of the deployment. Use it in your headline to grab the readers’ attention right away. For example, ‘Here’s how Deepworkz boosted efficiency by 110%’ or ‘Deepworkz reduced its OPEX by $10 million.

Make a gripping business case
The business benefits of the deployment need to be front and centre of B2B content creation. While we have said this before, this needs to be reiterated. This is the most critical part of the case study, so pull out all the tricks up your sleeve to ensure it is in the reader’s face. Use subheads, pull quotes, box-outs, write blurbs, etc., to make the benefits leap out to anyone reading the case study or just scanning through it.

Don’t be afraid to use your editing scissors
It is easy to give in to the temptation of elaborating at length on the solution or the problem faced by the customer. However, a lengthy case study full of jargon is hardly likely to serve the purpose. You have to use your journalistic instincts and skills here to sift the actual value from the fluff. Be objective and give the facts straight.

Sometimes the client might want to use superlatives to describe their solution. This can get tricky, but you must explain that flowery language and extra adjectives are a big turn-off for the reader, can actually do a disservice to the vendor, and are hence a big no-no in B2B content marketing.

Wrapping up
What ensures a great B2B content performance? It is a combination of several factors. Speaking directly to the customer to get the information and benefits gives you insights to produce a kick-ass case study. Harness this to the fullest. Remember to keep the customer’s voice in your case study to make the finished product authentic. Lastly, don’t forget to add the Holy Grail of content marketing – the call to action!

After perfectly setting the stage for our CTA, here we go. If you wish to write a compelling case study that inspires other businesses, as well as increases your sales, skilled Deepworkz B2B content writers, are here for you.

Drafting a compelling case study that continues to deliver value to a customer over a long period of time demands exceptional writing skills and an understanding of the industry. Our journalistic background can help you ask the right questions and weave a case study that is informative and engaging. Our end-to-end content marketing services deliver a beautifully packaged end product – from writing, editing to designing. Don’t wait anymore! Write to us at (email id) and give your business a fillip with the right B2B content marketing services.

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