Four Things about Case Studies: Thing 4: Let Your Data Sell the Story

case study results

From Case Study to Success Story – Building Trust in the Water Industry

Introduction

Your Hero saved the day!  By picking your solution, your case study candidate was able to solve their problem and save the ‘world’.  The next challenge in writing the success story is being able to prove your solution worked.  Prove it with your case study results. Prove it in a way that is easy to assess and digest.

By showcasing the case study results graphically, your success story is that much more believable. In this final post in the series: Four Things about Case Studies: From Case Study to Success Story – Building Trust in the Water Industry we examine the importance of data visualization in turning a water industry case study into a brilliant success story.

Thing 4: Let Your Data Sell the Story

In the Results section of a water industry case study you have the opportunity to prove the benefits of your Solution.  Your Hero’s testimonial is even more powerful when backed by data.  Because people better understand data shown visually, presenting your data in charts and graphs improves the impact and recall of your story.  Data visualization is a powerful tool for persuading your audience and engendering trust.

Hubspot defines data visualization as showcasing data, numbers, and statistics through images and charts. Data visualization is most important in:

  • identifying trends;
  • answering questions;
  • proving theories;

and, when used in B2B marketing,

  • showcasing your brand.

Data visualization

Data types

The Oxford English dictionary defines data as: facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis.  But, having large tables full of numbers, no matter how great, will not help the reader.  You need to present the data in a way the allows analysis.  You need a graph!

What graph, you may be wondering?  That depends on your data. Understanding what type of data and data relationships you have allows you to pick the most effective graph to display the data.

Most data fall into one of two groups: numerical or categorical:

Numerical data, also known as quantitative data, have meaning as a measurement.  Numerical data is either discrete or continuous:

  • Discrete data can’t be measured but can be counted. Data take on possible values that can be listed out.
  • Continuous data can’t be counted but can be measured. Their possible values cannot be counted and can only be described using intervals on the real number line.

Categorical data represent characteristics and can be sorted by group or category.

Data relationships

Before you can pick the best visual for a given data set, you need to understand data relationships.  There are seven important data relationships. The table below defines each type of relationship and gives an example of each.

case study results

Charts to visualize data types and relationships

Now to pick the chart. Each different data and data relationship can be represented by at least one chart type.  The trick is to pick the chart that will optimize analysis.  There may be more than one chart that allows you to visualize the data accurately. In this case, consider what you’re trying to achieve, the message you’re communicating, and who you’re trying to reach.

Bar charts

Bar charts are best used to show change over time, compare different categories, or compare parts of a whole.  Bars can be shown vertically, effective for chronological data, or horizontally, grouped or stacked, effective for comparing multiple parts-to-whole relationships.

Pie charts

Pie charts are best for making part-to-whole comparisons, with either discrete or continuous data.  They work best with small data sets.  Limit your slices to 6 at a maximum. 

Line charts

case study results

Line charts show time-series relationships with continuous data.  Use line charts to illustrate trend, acceleration, deceleration, and volatility.

Area charts

case study results

Area charts also describe time-series relationships, but they differ in that they can represent volume as well.  A standard area chart is used to show or compare progression over time.  A stacked area chart visualizes part-to-whole relationships, helping show how each category contributes to the cumulative total.

Scatter plots

case study results

Scatter plots are used to show the relationship between items based on two sets of variables.  They demonstrate correlation in a large amount of data.

Bubble charts

case study results

Bubble charts are excellent for displaying nominal comparisons or ranking relationships.  The bubble plot is basically a scatter plot with bubbles, good for displaying an additional variable.  A bubble map is used to visualize values over specific geographic regions.

Heat maps

case study results

Heat maps display categorical data.  The intensity of color represents values of geographical areas or data tables.

Chart format

Once you have determined which type of chart best visualizes your data set, there are some formatting tips that improve the impact and comprehensibility of your chart. 

Tip #1: Label intuitively

Labels help your reader to interpret the data.  Double-check every chart to make sure the labels are there and correct, but don’t overdo it. Label data points directly so the reader doesn’t have to search for the legend.  Keep labels on the x-axis horizontal not tilted. 

Tip # 2: Call out or highlight important information

Rather than relying on a legend alone, use arrows and text, circles or rectangles, or use a contrasting color to aid interpretation.  Use callouts to highlight relevant information or provide additional context.

Tip #3: Choose attractive and consistent colors

Choosing the right color scheme is very important.  There are lots of rules about using color in data visualization.  A couple worth noting here include:

  • Use a single color to represent the same type of data.  For instance, if you are depicting a single water quality parameter month by month with a bar chart, use a single color.  If you are comparing values between years in a grouped bar chart, use a different color for each year.
  • Make sure there is enough contrast between colors.  If the colors are too similar it can be hard to tell the difference.
  • Avoid patterns. Patterns can be incredibly distracting. Instead, if, for instance, you are trying to differentiate values on a heatmap, use different saturations of the same color. In the same way, use solid lines rather than dashed lines.
  • As a rule, don’t use more than 6 colors in a single layout.

Tip # 4: Order the data set

A visualization is much easier to understand when the data is ordered intuitively.  In a bar chart, for example, make sure the larger values are at the top for horizontal bars, and from left-to-right for vertical bars.

  • Order data intuitively. There will be a logical hierarchy in the data. Order categories alphabetically, sequentially, or by value.
  • Order consistently. The ordering of items in your legend should reflect the order of your chart.
  • Order evenly. Use natural increments on your axes (0, 5, 10, 15, 20) instead of awkward or uneven increments (0, 3, 5, 16, 50).

Tip #5: Avoid 3D graphs

The nature of these graphs makes them hard to assess.  The tilt required to create the effect skews the reader’s view of the data.

Tip #6: Choose appropriate data ranges

The range of your data set is the difference between the highest and the lowest values.  In visualizing data, you may need to consolidate data into groups.  When grouping data, be sure to use consistent ranges.  Select three to five numerical ranges that allow an even distribution of data between them and use +/- signs to extend the high and low ranges.

Conclusion

Data visualization allows you to showcase your case study results and prove your solution. By understanding your data and data relationships you can pick the chart that will let your data sell the story. 

This series has highlighted four things about case studies that help you tell your success story.  By turning a case study into a success story, you build trust in the water industry:

  1. Build it as a Success Story
  2. Finding your Hero
  3. Your Hero may need Help…
  4. Let Your Data Sell the Story

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’.

Contact me to discuss your next case study project.

CONTACT A WHITE PAPER WRITER

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Four Things about Case Studies: Thing 3: Your Hero may need Help…

case study interview

From Case Study to Success Story – Building Trust in the Water Industry

Introduction

Once you find your hero, the next thing to think about as you move through the process of turning your case study into a success story is the case study interview. 

Your hero may need help!  Your case study candidate may not be a storyteller.  That’s okay because you ARE!  The trick is getting all the relevant information out of your Hero with out wasting their (or your) time.  Planning the interview will ensure your success.

case study interview

In the series of posts, Four Things about Case Studies: From Case Study to Success Story – Building Trust in the Water Industry, Thing 3 considers the importance of the interview in shaping your success story.

The Interview

Once you have your Hero, you need to get their story out of them.  The interview is crucial.  Be ready, and get the Hero prepared as well. The goal of the interview is to gather emotions, quotes, anecdotes, and results.

The time

This is important.  Your Hero is busy.  Don’t waste their time playing phone tag.  Contact the case study candidate and schedule a convenient time for the interview.  Also, don’t waste time during the interview.  Properly planned and executed, it should take less than an hour. 

The interview will also go much smoother if, when you schedule the interview, you also send your Hero a copy of the questions you intend to ask.

The questions

Sending your case study candidate a copy of the questions serves several purposes.  Possibly the most important reason to use a questionnaire is that it makes it that much easier to keep the interview on track.  Keeping the questions in the same order as the case study, makes the writing up that much easier.

Background

This short section gives a brief description of your Hero, the company., and the industry. Starting with this section eases the candidate into the interview with the easy stuff.  It also gives you an idea of how the Hero sees his role in the story.

Challenge

In this section you want to find out what challenge they were facing that made them start looking for a new solution.  For instance, did they need to reduce costs? Increase compliance?

Your questions should identify whether they had been using a solution from another provider before they implemented your solution.  If they had been, ask why they decided it was time for a change?

Solution

The Solution section is really the marketing meat of the interview.  You need to find out how they decided on a solution and why did they pick yours.

You might want to ask questions like:

  • How did you hear about our company and/or solutions?
  • Did you evaluate any other solutions before selecting our product/service? If yes, please describe that process.
  • What specific aspects of our product/service appealed to you? Was there a deciding factor that tipped the scales in our favor?
  • How did you implement the product/service across your company? Was the process fast and easy, or did you run into some bumps along the way?

Results

You need to find out the benefits did your solution provided. 

case study interview
  • Can your Hero provide data that measures the impact (hard or soft metrics) of implementing your solution?
  • Do they have quantitative data about the performance of your solution in practice? 
  • Will they let you use it in the case study? 

Graphs and charts can be an excellent way of demonstrating your solution.  Figures also serve to break up blocks of text, increasing the readability of the document.

Next week’s post explains how to structure your success story and present data that demonstrates how your solution saved the day.

Future steps – how the solution will continue to provide benefits into the future.

Since the customer has had a chance to consider the questions before the interview, you should be able to draw out details of benefits that maybe were unexpected.  Listen carefully and ask for details of key features and benefits of your solution that really resonated with the customer.

The person

Now this may seem obvious but be sure to interview a real, live person.  A case study based on testimonial videos and notes from the sales team won’t come across as an engaging success story.  You want to be able to draw out details that the customer hadn’t anticipated, just by listening and interacting with a real person.

The record

case study interview

Whenever possible, and only with the customer’s consent, you should record the interview.  This allows you to focus on the interview and not worry so much about note-taking.  You won’t have to go back to the customer to clarify things you didn’t write down.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take notes during the interview.  Technology does sometimes let us down and the physical action of writing notes tags that information in our brains.

Next steps

Before concluding the interview, you should let the Hero know what happens next.  You may need to ask follow-up questions (hopefully not if you were prepared for the interview…).  Let them know when they can expect a copy of the draft case study for review.  A review by the Hero at this time ensures all product and personnel names are correct and that the Hero is pleased with the content.

When your success story is finalized, make sure the Hero has a chance to review the document again, in its final format.  Always get formal approval before publishing the success story.

Conclusion

Interviewing effectively is another key thing to master for case study success.  With preparation and planning your success story will almost write itself.

In the final post of the series: Four things about case studies: From Case Study to Success Story. Building Trust in the Water Industry next week’s post will look at how visualization can help your data sell the story.  Thing 4: Let Your Data Sell the Story.

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 success stories.

Contact me to discuss your next case study project.

CONTACT A CASE STUDY WRITER

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Four Things about Case Studies: Thing 2: Finding your Hero

case study candidates

From Case Study to Success Story – Building Trust in the Water Industry

Introduction

We’ve seen how to build a success story from a water industry case study. Another key thing you need to turn your case study into a compelling success story is a Hero.  A critical part of the story is selecting the right case study candidate to interview.  You want someone who is happily using your product, but they also need to be able to talk about how your product solved their problem. 

Thing 2, when moving from a case study to a success story, is about how to find the Hero of your success story.

Thing 2: Finding your Hero

Who is a Hero?

It is important to find a case study candidate that qualifies as a hero for your success story.  You want a smart business leader who identified a challenge or just a better way to solve a problem.  Someone who checked out the different options and picked your solution.  So, you want someone who has:

  • an in-depth product knowledge;
  • experienced remarkable or even unexpected results;
  • a recognizable brand name; and/or
  • switched from a competitor’s product to yours.

Your Hero should know your product or service well.  That product knowledge will come through during the interview.

Where is your Hero?

So, how do you find your Hero?  You can look for people who are already talking about your product or you can start by canvassing customers.

Find people who already love your product/service.

Check with your sales and service teams.  They hear directly from clients and customers and may know of specific customers that had outstanding results and are happy to talk about it.

Check on review sites on the internet.  Your customers may be posting reviews of your products.  Customers may be talking about you on social media sites. 

Send out emails to a list of customers

Customers on your email list are another source of potential candidates.

When using email for reach out to case study candidates, you need to follow a few simple rules:

  • Keep your first, introductory email short and to the point. Suggest a time and date to chat further but no specific details.
  • Mention them by name in the email.  Don’t send out generic emails; make it personal.
  • Include your own name, too.  Let them know who they are dealing with.
  • Be complimentary. Boost their ego and make them feel special for being asked to participate.  It may make them more likely to agree to participate.
  • Attach the questions you’d like to ask. This will help them decide whether they want to work with you on your success story.

Will the Hero participate?

You may need to convince your Hero to participate.  Emphasize the benefits of being a Hero.  You could offer a monetary incentive, but this tends to come off as a bit dubious.  Convince your case study candidate that participating in a case study is really about free publicity and thought leadership. 

Your Hero should understand that being part of this success story is a win-win situation.  You get to tell your good news story and it gets the Hero’s company out on your channels as well as theirs.

Is the Hero right for the job?

Once you have a short list of case study candidates you need to decide which hero is right for the job.  Conduct a brief interview with each candidate and ask these three questions to reveal all:

  1. Tell me about your company.
  2. Which of our products do you use?
  3. What benefits have you gotten from our products?

You want someone you will give you complete answers.  It would be even better if they volunteer information.

Avoid those who give vague, and/or short, answers.  If they can’t define the benefits they have enjoyed, move on.  While chatting, make sure your Hero is going to be easy to work with.  You will be connecting with them several times over the course of the project.

Let the runners-up down easy

After you decide on the hero for your success story, be sure to let the runners-up down easy.  Let them know that you appreciate their time, but their story is not in line with current marketing strategies.  You may want to use their story in future.

Conclusion

Your case study candidate is the hero of your success story.  By picking the right hero and interviewing effectively, your case study will almost write itself.

In next week’s post we look at to conduct the interview to get the most out of your time with the client in Thing 3: Your Hero may need help….

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 success stories.

Contact me to discuss your next case study project.

CONTACT A CASE STUDY WRITER

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Four Things about Case Studies: Thing 1: Build it as a Success Story

case study writer


From Case Study to Success Story – Building Trust in the Water Industry

Introduction

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

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 pizazz.

As a powerful bottom-of-funnel tactic, you want your case study to resonate with your audience.  To do that, you need to present it as a success story.  A compelling story of how your solution solved a client’s problem. 

case study sriter

In this first post in the series Four Things about Case Studies: From Case Study to Success Story – Building Trust in the Water Industry we look at Thing 1: Build it as a Success story.  Use these 5 key blocks to build a case study that is also a compelling success story. 

Match the story to your audience

The goal of a case study is to build trust in your product and in your brand.  This makes them an excellent tactic for the bottom of your sales funnel.  After reading your case study, you want your ideal customer to feel that:

  • you are experienced in their 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. If your system applies across verticals, target that part of your audience that will appreciate the challenges faced by your Hero.

Be sure to consider the ‘skimmers’

With so much content out there, many of us have become ‘skimmers’.  We skim headlines and section headings to see if the content is relevant to our needs.  For skimmers, you should include an executive summary.  Craft a mini-headline 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. 

Thing 1: Build it as a Success story

Stories have a beginning, where a 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.

Case studies should follow this same progression.  Thus, there are 5 basic blocks needed to build a case study into a success story:

  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 block and see how the facts and details of your case study can be crafted into a success story.

Block 1:     The Hero

This first block is like the prologue to a novel.  This is where you set the scene for your story.  Tell us about your featured customer – the Hero of the success story:

  • what do they do;
  • what they want; and
  • what they need.

Describe the customer as an industry leader and innovator who found creative ways to solve a business problem, using your product, of course.  Describe them as your Hero.

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.  [Next week’s post looks in more detail at how to find a Hero for your success story.]

Block 2:     The Challenge

case study writer

In the Challenge section you describe the obstacles your Hero was facing before he found your solution.  It is important to provide the context right up front.  The key here is to make the challenge universal to the industry, to engage your chosen audience.  Explain how the customer’s business challenge sits within their industry.  You want your readers to be able to relate to the Hero’s problem.

Block 3:     The Solution

Here in the middle of the success story comes the solution.  This is where the Hero 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 Hero found your solution;
  • 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, you may want to 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.  The last post in this series helps you pick the best visual for your data.

When describing the benefits of your solution, hard numbers are always better.  Numbers like: ‘boosted revenue by 63%’.  However, if all you have is soft benefits, like ‘saved time’ these 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 Hero’s use of your solution into 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.  How to write your case study as a compelling success story. 

Come back next week to find out how to find the perfect Hero for your success story in Thing 2: Finding your Hero.

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 success stories.

Contact me to discuss your next case study project.


CONTACT A CASE STUDY WRITER

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Is your case study candidate the Hero of your success story?

case study candidate

Introduction

Is your case study candidate a real hero?

When crafting your next case study into a compelling success story, be sure to pick the right ‘hero’.   A critical part of a successful case study is selecting the right customer.  You want someone who is happily using your product, but they also need to be able to talk about how your product solved their problem.case study candidate

Then, after you pick your hero, you need to get the best story you can.  That involves an interview.  By being organized will make the whole process a breeze.

In this post, we consider how to find your hero and then how to interview that hero.

The Hero

Who is a Hero?

It is important to find a case study candidate that qualifies as a hero for your success story.  You want a smart business leader who identified a challenge or just a better way to solve a problem.  Someone who checked out the different options and picked your solution.  So, you want someone who:

  • has in-depth product knowledge;
  • experienced remarkable or even unexpected results;
  • has a recognizable brand name; and/or
  • switched from a competitor’s product to yours.

Your hero should know your product or service well.  That product knowledge will come through during the interview.

Where is your Hero?

How do you find your hero?  You can find people who are already talking about your product or you can start by canvassing customers.

Find people who already love your product/service.

Check with your sales and service teams.  They hear directly from clients and customers and may know of specific customers that had outstanding results and are happy to talk about it.

Check on review sites on the internet.  Your customers may be posting reviews of your products.  Customers may be talking about you on social media sites.

Send out emails to list of customers

Customers on your email list are another source of potential candidates.

When using email for reach out to case study candidates, you need to follow a few simple rules:

  • Keep your first, introductory email short and to the point. Suggest a time and date to chat further but no specific details.
  • Mention them by name in the email. Don’t send out generic emails; make it personal.
  • Include your own name, too. Let them know who they are dealing with.
  • Be complimentary. Boost their ego and make them feel special for being asked to participate. It may make them more likely to agree to participate.
  • Attach the questions you’d like to ask. This will help them decide whether they want to work with you on your success story.

Will the Hero participate?

You may need to convince your hero to participate.  Emphasize the benefits of being the hero.  You could offer a monetary incentive, but this tends to come off as a bit dubious.  Convince your hero that participating in a case study is really about free publicity and thought leadership.

Your case study candidate should understand that being part of this success story is a win-win situation.  You get to tell your good news story and it gets the hero’s company and its actions out on your channels as well as theirs.

Is the Hero right for the job?

Once you have a short list of case study candidates you need to decide which hero is right for the job.  Conduct a brief interview with each candidate and ask these three questions to reveal all:

  1. Tell me about your company.
  2. Which of our products do you use?
  3. What benefits have you gotten from our products?

You want someone you will give you complete answers.  They may even volunteer information.

Avoid those who give vague, and/or short, answers.  If they can’t define that benefits they have enjoyed, move on.  While chatting try to make sure your hero is going to be easy to work.  You will be connecting with them several times over the course of the project.

Let the runners-up down easy

After you decide on the hero for your success story, be sure to let the runners-up down easy.  Let them know that you appreciate their time, but their story is not in line with current marketing strategies.  You may want to use their story in future.

The Interview

Once you have your hero, you need to get their story.  The interview is crucial.  Be ready, and get the hero ready as well.

The time

This is important.  Your hero is busy.  Don’t waste their time playing phone tag.  Contact the case study candidate and schedule a convenient time for the interview.  Also, don’t waste time during the interview.  It should take less than an hour.

The interview will also go much smoother if, when you schedule the interview, you also send them the questionnaire.

The questionnaire

Sending your case study candidate a copy of the questions serves a number of purposes.  Possibly the most important reason to use a questionnaire is that it makes it that much easier to keep the interview on track.

Keep the questions in the same order as the case study:

  1. About/Background – company, industry, candidate (title and role in company).
  2. Challenge – what challenge were they facing that made them start looking for a new solution.
  3. Solution – how did they a solution and why did they pick you.
  4. Results – what benefits did our solution provide; how did you measure the impact (hard or soft metrics).
  5. Future steps – how the solution will continue to provide benefits into the future.

Since the customer has had a chance to consider the questions, you should be able to draw out details of benefits that were maybe unexpected.  Listen carefully and ask for details of key features and benefits of your solution that really resonated with the customer.

The person

Now this may seem obvious but be sure to interview a real, live person.  A case study based on testimonial videos and notes from the sales team won’t come across as an engaging success story.  You want to be able to draw out details that the customer hadn’t anticipated, just by listening and interacting with a real person.

The record

Whenever possible, and only with the customer’s consent, you should record the interview.  This allows you to focus on the interview and not worry so much about note-taking.  You won’t have to go back to the customer to clarify things you didn’t write down.

Conclusion

Your case study candidate should be the hero of your success story.  By picking the right hero and interviewing effectively, your case study will almost write itself.

Next week’s post will look at how to effectively present your case study and the data that proves the results, your solution.

 

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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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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