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Back to school: Writing compelling case studies

Ah, case studies. In your PR arsenal, they can be a perfect middle ground between press releases and whitepapers, offering a mix of high-level information and meatier detail as well as a balance between “PR speak” and technical jargon. Most importantly, they tangibly demonstrate the impact and value of your business to potential customers. The best case studies are priceless: editors love publishing them and they’re powerful sales tools for your business.

Because they have a customer’s stamp of approval, case studies appear more credible to audiences. This third-party endorsement goes a long way in establishing more trust with readers and can help lead them towards a “If it helped them, maybe it can help me” way of thinking.

But case studies can also fall horribly flat. We’ve all read case studies that drone on like a lengthier press release but with the added “bonus” of a customer story behind it. Follow these tips to avoid having your case study prescribed as a sedative.

Solutions, solutions, solutions

The number one thing we hear from editors is that they want case studies to illustrate a product providing a solution to a problem. They don’t want to read more about your product’s groundbreaking features and technology — that’s what the press release is for. The case study gives editors and readers an opportunity to see how your product can be applied and solve challenges in the real world.

Tangible metrics

Just as important as solutions are facts and figures that prove how these solutions save time and money, increase productivity and/or enhance other important metrics. Providing these numbers (e.g. “Our product reduced accidents by 36 percent”) gives readers and customers something tangible they can bring back to the C-suite and decision-makers.

Avoid an Origin of Species company intro

We can’t tell you how many case studies we’ve come across that begin with lengthy introductions that basically double as a company’s written history. There’s nothing wrong with offering some background about the business, but remember that the audience is here to read about how a solution can solve their problem. With that in mind, keep the focus of the case study on a solution, while anything about the business that isn’t immediately relevant to the article is secondary.

Increase shareability

In today’s communications world, a defining metric of content is how much it gets shared. An article, blog post or case study shared through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media sites experiences boosts in relevancy and credibility — and also gets seen by more potential customers.

To increase shareability, try a few of these tips:

  • A catchy headline is absolutely necessary. Try something that plays off of current events or seasonal happenings (e.g. back to school season).
  • Since most people simply don’t have the time to read a 1,000 word case study, it’s recommended to keep it short, sweet and to the point – 700 words or less.
  • Eye-catching visuals. Images help break up blocks of text and make articles easier to read, so try to add a few original photos.

Exorcise your bad habits

Bad habits can seriously derail your case study if you’re not careful. You may have an incredibly compelling story to tell, but don’t bury it beneath layers of buzzwords, blocks of text and stock photos.

Something we see fairly often is businesses requiring their full company and product names being spelled out – trademarks included – every time a product is mentioned. This not only comes across as too self-promotional and stuffy, but all of those symbols® clutter the page™ and make© your text™ irritating to read®.

Study that case

Writing compelling case studies requires more than just following a few guidelines, but implementing some simple recommendations can go a long way towards making a case study more readable, shareable and impactful. For inspiration, here’s an example of a great case study from Inprela client Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, which helped Artiphon create a musical instrument that works directly with mobile apps.

 

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