5 Blocks to Build a Successful Case Study

Introduction

In the water industry, trust is everything.  Building trust with your customers and prospects is critical to improving leads and sales.  And for building trust, case studies are unbeatable. case study writing

Unfortunately, case studies about water industry products and services are often dense, difficult to read, and, frankly, a bit dull.  Used to convey complex technical information about a solution to someone’s problem.  Written to a strict formula. No pizzazz.

If you want your case study to resonate with your audience, bring in leads, or close a sale, you need to present it as a success story.  A compelling story of how your solution solved a client’s problem.

In this post we look at the 5 key parts to a case study and how to turn your case study into a compelling success story.

But first, consider your audience

As with any piece of content it is important to know your audience.  The goal of a case study is to build trust, in your product, in your brand.  After your ideal customer reads you case study, you want them to feel that:

  • you are experienced in the industry;
  • you understand their industry’s specific needs; and
  • you know how to get industry-targeted results.

To do that you need to know your audience.

And consider the ‘skimmers’

With so much content out there, many of us have become ‘skimmers’.  Skimming headlines and section headings to see if the content is relevant to our needs.  For these readers you should include an executive summary.  A mini-headline serves to capture attention and then, in a couple of sentences, or better yet dot points, summarize the case.  Highlight the relevant aspects that made it a success story.

5 building blocks for a successful case study

Tell your case study as a success story.  Stories have a beginning, where the hero is faced with a challenge.  Stories have a middle, where a solution is presented.  And they have an end, where the results of the solution provide benefits to the hero.

All case studies follow the same progression.  There are 5 basic blocks needed to build a successful case study:

  1. The Customer (Hero) block
  2. The Challenge block
  3. The Solution block
  4. The Results block
  5. The Future block

Let’s break down each part and see how the facts and details of your case study can be crafted into a success story.

Block 1:              The Customer

This first block is like the prologue to a novel.  This is where you set the scene for your story.  Tell us about:

  • the featured Customer and what do they do;
  • what the Customer wants; and
  • what the Customer needs.

Describe the Customer in terms of their being an industry leader and innovator who found creative ways to solve a business problem using your product, of course.

Remember, although it was your product or service that saved the day, the Customer is always the Hero of your success story.  Always treat your product as a supporting character.

Block 2:              The Challenge

In the Challenge section you describe the obstacles the customer was facing before your solution.  It is important to provide the context right up front.  The key here is to make the challenge universal.  Explain how the customer’s business challenge sits within the water industry.  You want your readers to be able to relate to the hero’s (your customer’s) problem.

Block 3:              The Solution

Here in the middle of the success story comes The Solution.  This is where the hero, your customer, decides to implement a solution to their Challenge.

Take your readers on a journey as the hero searches for a solution.  Explain how your solution compares to any others on the market.  And, of course, your solution proves to be the one that can save the day.

In this section you explain:

  • how your customer found you;
  • how and why they picked your Solution; and
  • how the Solution was rolled out.

Be sure to highlight specific features that appealed to that customer.

You can also provide details of the implementation of the solution.  However, if there were major complications with this stage, conveniently leave that out.

Block 4:              The Results

The Results section is where the data and technical details come in.  This is where you provide proof that your product solved the problem presented in the challenge section.  Charts and graphs describe the data visually.  This not only helps your reader understand your solution, but also breaks up blocks of texts.

Use data relevant to the story.  Summarize large data sets where appropriate and use colors in graphs to highlight trends.

Then describe the benefits of your solution.  Hard numbers are always better, like: ‘boosted revenue by 63%’ but soft benefits, like ‘saved time’ can also work.

Block 5:              Into the Future

As with an epilogue to a novel, this section is often missing from case studies. But describing the customer’s use of your solution in the future can be powerful in generating trust.  Tell how your products will be an essential part of their operations moving forward.

You should explain how your support services provide benefits over the long term.  It demonstrates your commitment to your customers on-going success.

One more thing…

In the water industry, the impacts of your solutions can roll out over time.  Positive business and environmental impacts take time to develop.  Consider keeping up with your customers and chronicle how your solutions continue to provide benefits.  This lets readers see that your goal is not only to help with immediate needs, but also to ensure long term results

This is particularly effective in the water industry as your solutions often provide benefits beyond your immediate customer.  Managing water resources sustainably provides benefits to the community and the environment.  Tell that story, too.

Conclusion

For your case study to resonate with your audience, bring in leads, or close a sale, you need to present it as a success story.  A compelling story of how your solution solved a client’s problem.

In this post we looked at the key building blocks to a successful case study.  And how to turn your case study into a compelling success story.

Come back next week to find out how to find the perfect case study ‘hero ‘and how to interview them.

 

Are you so busy making a difference to your clients that you don’t have time to tell your good news stories?  Have you solved a wastewater problem for a client, a community, a country? Then get that story out there!  Let the world know how your company solves problems and makes a difference.

That’s where WATER COPY comes in.  I research and write top quality science-based ‘good news stories’. (Click here to see more details about my skills and experience).

Contact me to discuss your next case study project.

CONTACT ME

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FREE DOWNLOAD: A useful plain language checklist

plain language

FREE DOWNLOAD: A useful plain language checklist

Is your content ‘talking’ to your audience?

plain languageThe whole point of marketing is to start a one-on-one conversation between two people.  Ultimately a conversation between your sales person and their business manager.

Your product is complex and technical.  That’s fine.  But if your content is hard to understand the conversation may never get started.  You need to simplify the language in your content to make your complex, technical product understandable.

Download this useful checklist and keep it handy for when you write your next white paper, case study or blog post.  Make your content more easily understood. More believable. More persuasive.

 

Download Your Free Checklist

 

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Five simple steps to start the conversation (Part 5)

readability

We have found an emotionally compelling idea, adopted an easy-to-read style, and kept it concise and to the point.  We have made it skim-able by adding headings and lists. The last step is to complete your structure work.  This week Step #5: Structure it to soothe the reader’s eye.

Step #5: Structure it to soothe the reader’s eye

Readers can be intimidated by long blocks of text.  Making content easy to read in a visual sense will make it easier for the reader to understand your key message.

You can soothe the reader’s eye by using white space. Use adequate margins and space between sections. Keep paragraphs short.  The lists we discussed last week help break up text and provide relief to the eye as well as enhancing its skim-ability.

Visual tools can help explain your content.

  • Infographics provide a clear visual representation of data, relationships, or ideas.
  • Tables can help comparisons and show relationships without using a lot of text.
  • Lists group similar items. Numbered lists are ideal for items that are sequenced or ranked; other lists may be bulleted.
  • Other visual tools include inserts, charts, maps, and checklists.

Make sure the tool you use matches your content and the needs of your audience. You can’t explain everything with a pie chart!

Conclusion

In this series we have seen how plain language improves understanding.  Understanding leads to trust, and ultimately to action from your prospect.  Take these 5 simples steps to start the conversation:

  1. Find one compelling idea.
  2. Use an easy-to-read style.
  3. Keep it concise and to the point.
  4. Make it skim-able
  5. Structure it to soothe the reader’s eye.

 

To keep these simple steps in mind while writing, download and print the handy checklist:

Checklist 5 Simple Steps to Start the Conversation

Download Your Free Checklist

 

Contact Water Copy for all your content writing requirements.

CONTACT ME

 

 

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