Case Studies Eight Ways to Get Them Done

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    How to get startedThe most prominent parts of a casestudy (e.g. the title, subtitle, and benefitsbullets) are often the most difficultparts to write (or get right). The bestadvice is to start with a bang. Useaction verbs and emphasize benefits in

    the case study title and subtitle. Includea short (less than 20-word) customerquote in larger text. Then, summarizethe key points of the case study in2-3 succinct bullet points. The goalshould be to tease the reader into

    wanting to read more.

    How to quantify benefitsNo single element in a case study ismore compelling than the ability totie quantitative benefits to the solution.For example, Using Solution X saved

    Customer Y over $ZZZ,ZZZ after justsix months of implementation; or,Thanks to Solution X, employeesat Customer Y have realized a ZZ%increase in productivity as measuredby standard performance indicators.Quantifying benefits can be challenging,but not impossible. The key is to presentimaginative ideas to the customer for

    ways to quantify the benefits, andremain flexible during this discussion.If benefits cannot be quantified, attemptto develop a range of qualitative benefits;the latter can be quite compellingto readers as well.

    How to handle highlytailored solutionsEven highly tailored solutions andservices can be described in an effectivecase study. This can be accomplishedby writing first about a more generalproblem in the industry, thentransitioning to the specific problemthat the customer faced. In fact, thisapproach is recommended for allcase studies.

    In the problem section, begin witha general discussion of the issue thatfaces the relevant industry. Then,describe the specific problem or issuethat the customer faced. In the solutionsection, use the opposite sequence:describe how the solution solved thisspecific problem; then indicate how it

    can also help resolve this issue morebroadly within the industry. Using thisapproach, beginning more generally draws the reader into the story.Then, offering a specific exampledemonstrates, in a concrete way, howthe solution resolves a commonly facedissue. And concluding more generally allows the reader to understandhow the solution can also addresstheir problem.

    How to find the time (and the

    right writer) to do it A common logistical limitation isfinding adequate staff time to makethe case studies happen. And even withthe best plan, a case study is doomedto failure if the case study writer lacksthe exceptional writing skills, technicalsavvy, and marketing experience thatthese documents require. In many cases, a talented writer can meanthe difference between an ineffectivecase study and one that providesthe greatest benefit.

    When marketing staff time is limited,many enterprises outsource case study

    writing. Some qualified case study writers can also interview the customerto gather information for the case study.Because case study writing is a discrete,highly outsourced task, consider hiringa professional to quickly developeffective case studies.

    How to afford themEnterprises usually cant afford not todevelop case studies. Their competitorsmay be using the power of exampleeffectively, thus gaining an advantage.Moreover, case studies are generally notexpensive to write. Four two-page case

    studies cost about as much to write asan average-length white paper. Further,in some instances, a set of effectivecase studies can pay for themselveseven if they only lead to a smallnumber of sales.

    ConclusionManaging the process of developinga case study is not easy. On the otherhand, well-planned, well-written casestudies can provide prospects valuabledescriptive insights that can impact

    their decision making. Rather thanpresenting a business-case scenario,case studies present real-world examples,and include important informationon why a customer chose a productor service, how it was implemented orintegrated into their business, and theresults or benefits the customer obtained.For prospects needing verification thata vendors solution can successfully address the types of business challengesthey are faced with in their particularindustry, case studies can providethem this proof.

    Case Studies: Top Eight Ways to Get them Done

    Steve Hoffman is President and CEO of Hoffman Marketing Communications, a business and technology writing company specializing in strategic white papers, sales guides, and marketing collateral. Hoffman writers offer a unique combination of technical savvy, marketing skills, and writing talent to translate the most complex technologies into accessible prose that bolsters your sales and marketing efforts. Contact Steve at steve@hoffmanmarcom.com. Claim your Hoffman-authored free best practice articles on optimizing the effectiveness of case studies by visiting www.hoffmanmarcom.com/seeourwork/casestudies.php

    Hoffman Marketing Communications, Inc., 2006. All rights reserved.

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    productmarketing.com

    Volume 4, Issue 5, 2006