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What is a Case Study? Definition and Method

How to Write a Case Study

❶Field practitioners and students are seldom well-prepared to discuss physiology or pathology. Here's a case study video example from a brand you might even be drinking right now if we had to guess, we'd say marketers love their Starbucks:.

Create Great Marketing Case Studies With Four Free Templates

General Instructions
The Top 4 Benefits of Why You Should Learn How to Write a Business Case Study
What Is A Case Study?

Sample questions might include:. In order to tell a compelling story, you need context. That helps match the customer's need with your solution.

Exploring how the customer arrived at the decision to work with you helps to guide potential customers through their own decision-making processes. The focus here should be placed on the customer's experience during the onboarding process. The goal of this section is to better understand how the customer is using your product or service.

In this section, you want to uncover impressive measurable outcomes -- the more numbers, the better. When it comes time to take all of the information you've collected and actually turn it into something, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Where should you start? What should you include? What's the best way to structure it? To help you get a handle on this step, it's important to first understand that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the ways you can present a case study.

They can be very visual, which you'll see in some of the examples we've included below, and can sometimes be communicated mostly through video or photos, with a bit of accompanying text. Whether your case study is primarily written or visual, we recommend focusing on the seven-part outline, below. Even if you do elect to use a visual case study, it should still include all of this information, but presented in its intended format.

To help you visualize this case study outline, check out this case study template, which can also be downloaded here.

When laying out your case study, focus on conveying the information you've gathered in the most clear and concise way possible. Make it easy to scan and comprehend, and be sure to provide an attractive call-to-action at the bottom -- that should provide readers an opportunity to learn more about your product or service. Once you've completed your case study, it's time to publish and promote it. Some case study formats have pretty obvious promotional outlets -- a video case study can go on YouTube, just as an infographic case study can go on Pinterest.

But there are still other ways to publish and promote your case study. Here are a couple of ideas:. As stated earlier in this article, written case studies make terrific lead-generators if you convert them into a downloadable format, like a PDF. To generate leads from your case study, consider writing a blog post that tells an abbreviated story of your client's success and asking readers to fill out a form with their name and email address if they'd like to read the rest in your PDF.

As a growing business, you might need to display your case study out in the open to gain the trust of your target audience.

Rather than gating it behind a landing page, publish your case study to its own page on your website, and direct people here from your homepage with a "Case Studies" or "Testimonials" button along your homepage's top navigation bar. You drove the results, made the connect, set the expectations, used the questionnaire to conduct a successful interview, and boiled down your findings into a compelling story. And after all of that, you're left with a little piece of sales enabling gold -- a case study.

To show you what a well-executed final product looks like, have a look at some of these marketing case study examples. When branding and design studio Corey McPherson Nash showcases its work, it makes sense for it to be visual -- after all, that's what they do.

So in building the case study for the studio's work on the New England Journal of Medicine's integrated advertising campaign -- a project that included the goal of promoting the client's digital presence -- Corey McPherson Nash showed its audience what it did, rather than purely telling it.

Notice that the case study does include some light written copy -- which includes the major points we've suggested -- but really lets the visuals do the talking, allowing users to really absorb the studio's services.

What's interesting about this case study is the way it leads with the customer. That reflects a major HubSpot credo, which is to always solve for the customer first. The copy leads with a brief description of why Shopify uses HubSpot, and is accompanied by a short video and some basic statistics on the company.

Notice that this case study uses mixed-media. Yes, there is a short video, but it's elaborated upon in the additional text on the page. So while your case studies can use one or the other, don't be afraid to combine written copy with visuals to emphasize the project's success. Here's a design company that knows how to lead with simplicity in its case studies. As soon as the visitor arrives at the page, he or she is greeted with a big, bold photo, and two very simple columns of text -- "The Challenge" and "The Outcome.

Immediately, IDEO has communicated two of the case study's major pillars. And while that's great -- the company created a solution for vertical farming startup INFARM's challenge -- it doesn't stop there. As the user scrolls down, those pillars are elaborated upon with comprehensive but not overwhelming copy that outlines what that process looked like, replete with quotes and additional visuals.

Then, there are the cases when visuals can tell almost the entire story -- when executed correctly. Describe how the challenge was overcome tell of the battle. Sum it up give it a happy ending. On the The National Center for the Middle Market site, journalist Erik Sherman laid out what he sees as the "fairly strict formula" for a case study:. There may be other structures that could work, and experimentation can be good, but only so long as all these points are covered at a minimum in the final piece.

Another way to look at it is to think of case studies as stories told from the perspective of a happy customer. These kind of stories, says Slaunwhite, are hard to resist reading. Hibbard, who wrote the book Stories that Sell , says there are two types of audiences: In Weil's write-up on case studies, she calls subheads , such as "The Challenge" and "The Solution", "signposts".

And just like a city keeps its signpost format the same, so too should your case study library. In her case study mistakes ebook, Hibbard offers another approach: But the most interesting stories usually take a more creative path.

Instead, she encourages you to think about the personality of your audience and consider what would resonate with them most. Here are three alternatives she recommends:. See the "Label the Customer" top below. Readers who want to know more can click through to a complete version that goes into more detail. Eye-catching headlines aren't only for your blog posts, they should be used on your case studies page, too.

Selecting what type of customer—marketer, small business owner or data scientist—to profile is a major task in itself, one that involves first understanding who will pay for your product. This post won't attempt to tackle this part of the case study writing process, but I encourage you to read Hibbard's ebook, Making Your Customer Success Stories Work for You , which outlines this initial task in detail. If you've already selected what type of customer you're profiling, be sure to heed Hibbard's next advice, too: Your next task is to get that customer's attention and have them agree to spending one to two hours on the phone with you, telling you how they use your product and reporting the results they've experience.

At Zapier, we send out an automated email invitation every Wednesday asking customers who meet a certain app usage condition to participate in a case study. In the plain-text email, the customer is asked to fill out a short form with questions such as, "What results have you seen since using Zapier? Since implementing this automated request and retrieval process in December, more than customers have submitted their stories for case studies.

If you don't have the tech team to configure a custom drip campaign to customers, check out products like Intercom , Vero and Customer. Another method to build a list of case study candidates is to offer incentives , both to customers themselves and your sales team. Hibbard, who runs a case study consultancy , encourages leaning on your salespeople, too. If your sales team is making the asking, Graham says of Hibbard's advice, identify the appropriate times to make the ask, such as around a sales meeting or during a traditionally slow quote.

Other methods, such as offering an award for the best use of your product, are present, too. A second way that's employed at Zapier is saving favorited tweets to a Google Doc and then reviewing those tweets later, searching for customers who could be well-positions for a case study.

This process is easy to implement as saving favorited tweets can be automated with a Zap. After a customer's initial interest in case study participation, Hibbard recommends sending the person a " Leave-Behind " doc. This attachment outlines these five items:. Hibbard also recommends supplying your customer the final approval form to use the case study upfront, Graham shared. Sharing this approval form before taking up one to two hours of their and your time will be beneficial to both parties.

And it'll make sure when the time comes to have their PR and possibly legal team sign-off, there are no surprises. If approval isn't given, then you should scrap the case study. Really, that's what needs to be done says marketing consultant John Spindler. Here's an example of a case study CoSchedule created for Vega , a customer specializing in premium plant-based lifestyle products.

It makes it clear who they are and exactly how CoSchedule has improved their business. Red Bull is known for its amazing content marketing. This case study from Link Humans turns a typical blog post into a full-blown case study examining how the brand executes its wildly innovative strategy:.

Why does this case study work? It's also concise and to the point. There is no fluff that would distract the reader from the most important information. Plus, it helps Disney raise awareness of their corporate training programs. That's something most people probably don't know they offer, and so it's a great topic for a case study.

This case study from TED landed on our highlight list for two reasons. This brief document is a perfect example of how to format a case study for easy printing. The information in your content is more important than the format. Here are all the elements you'll find in a typical case study:. The case study writing process includes several moving parts. However, by streamlining your workflow from start to finish, you can ensure no steps get missed.

Here are the seven steps this post will cover to get the job done. The first step in any case study writing process is deciding who you want to write about. It could be your organization, a client or a customer. Ask them before you start. If you are creating multiple case studies, design a pre-written permission letter.

It will help move your writing process along. Our team is conducting a case study, and we would love to tell the story of [company]. Would you be interested in working with us to create a case study around the use of our product? Another potential step in the process is asking your case study subjects to sign a legal release form so you can use their information.

You do not have to take this step in your case study creation process. If you do decide to have your subjects sign a form, consult with your legal team first. Once your client or customer has agreed to participate, you should begin to format your introductory questionnaire. This questionnaire will help you get the information you need to shape the story of your case study.

You can adjust your questions based on how your customer uses your product to get specific answers or quotes that can be highlighted in your study. Asking quality interview questions is critical to ensure that you get the information you need to write a full case study. These questions should be similar to the ones you sent in your questionnaire. These should help you gather any information you may have missed. Your case study participants were obviously experiencing some problem before they turned to your organization for a solution.

Give the readers of your case study, even more, context by getting as much information about their problem as possible. Here are five questions to ask when identifying your subject's core problems. Finding out what helped your client or customer decide to work with your company is not only informative for potential new business, but it can help your organization determine what materials to publish.

Talk to your customer or client and find out how your solution is helped them fix the problem that they were previously experiencing. Another relevant question to ask during your interview process is how your subject implemented your solution into their work process. This could help eliminate nerves from other potential new customers. Results speak volumes so why not let your customer or client data do the talking for you?

Remember that you may not be able to gather or showcase all the data you ask for. The next part of your process is going to involve setting up your interview. Finally, you have all of your information collected in one place. Now comes the fun part; putting it all together into the case study template you downloaded earlier.

The first part of any good case study is a catchy title. Your title should include the name of your client or customer as well as their logo. Your subhead should also be short and included information on what product or service they used that helped them solve their problem.

In your template, add your title and your subject's logo: What does a quality title look like? Well, it doesn't have to be complicated.

What Is a Case Study?

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Uncover what you need to create effective case studies for your business, and grab a free case study template to help you get started.

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Guidelines for Writing a Case Study Analysis. A case study analysis requires you to investigate a business problem, examine the alternative solutions, and propose the most effective solution using supporting evidence.

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Case studies are an invaluable record of the clinical practices of a profession. While case studies cannot provide specific guidance for the management of successive patients, they are a record of clinical interactions which help us to frame questions for more rigorously designed clinical studies. Learn how to write a case study that asserts your organization's topical authority, shows customer success, and converts leads. 50 examples + 7 templates.

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Case studies are huge ROI if you do it right. Learn everything you need to know about how to write a business case study, live in our #howtowrite series! Case Studies. T his guide examines case studies, a form of qualitative descriptive research that is used to look at individuals, a small group of participants, or a group as a whole. Researchers collect data about participants using participant and direct observations, interviews, protocols, tests, examinations of records, and collections of writing .