How to write a case study

By Shae Lalor

Case studies can tell your brand story better than you can! Instead of creating a list of frequently asked questions or a boring fact sheet, consider explaining a particular experience or issue by talking with a real-life customer or client – then writing up their case study.

1. Screen your subject. Sounds obvious, but the subject's experience should be a positive one, and they must be willing to be an advocate. If their experience involved some issues, but these were handled well, this could be a good customer service angle.

2. Interview your subject. This doesn't have to be an onerous process. It can involve a formal, recorded interview, or you can chat on the phone. A case study can even be formed from a survey response (if you've asked the right questions).

Ask the right questions

3. Ask the right questions. Don't go into the interview blind. Prepare a range of questions and know your product or service. Ask open-ended questions and ask about how they felt about all aspects of their experience. Imagine you're trying to determine whether or not to buy the product or use the service.

4. Quote your subject. The case study must be in their words. Put commentary around the subject's statements. These statements add credibility and emotion. Be authentic to truly connect. 

5. Check your tone. Avoid being patronising or simplifying the subject's experience. Think of your reader and ensure you're clearly explaining how things unfolded. Be sensitive to your subject's thoughts, feelings and experiences.

6. Note the privacy. Ask your subject if they're happy to be quoted. Can you use their full name? What other descriptions in the case study may give away your subject's location or personal situation – you may need to make adjustments to protect their privacy. If you have to change their name, note this in your case study.

7. Research the surrounding facts. Support the case study with information about the product or service. Broaden the description of what actually happened with factual, explanatory details.

8. Sell a solution. Remember, a case study for business or government is about selling a product, service or initiative. Write with positivity and answer frequently asked questions.

9. Use pull-outs. If you have extra information to support the case study, such as statistics, a new tangent or further reading, put these in a separate box. Grab good quotes and highlight these for effect, or use them as social media posts.

10. Put a face to it. Where possible, include a photo of the person or people  featured in the case study. It demonstrates a relevant connection and adds credibility.

11. Check back in. Always let your subject read their case study to ensure they're comfortable with how the story reflects their experience and interview – prior to publishing. Be sure they know where and when their story may be used.

 

Need help writing case studies to support a document, report or website? Get in touch!