Readers love a good story. That’s why chronicles of success often will stand out on a prospect’s or editor’s desk while other marketing and communication pieces fight a tough battle just to get noticed.

“Case studies add authenticity to your business, as well as credibility and social proof that your product or service has truly helped others overcome their challenges and achieve their goals,” according to HubSpot. “More than 90 percent of people say that reviews from people outside the company influence their decision to buy.”

Many business leaders and academics, including the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, recommend you follow a five-point case study diagram.

1) State the challenge and results in a brief headline / title.

  • New delivery solution saves $100,000 in annual costs
  • Revamped assembly line increased productivity by 85 percent
  • Website title adjustments doubled search traffic

2) Introduce the customer, not the product or service.

  • What is the company’s story, background and/or value proposition?
  • What is the revenue, number of employees and/or customer base?

3) Describe briefly the challenges / issues.

  • What was the problem or situation?
  • Why did this happen?
  • What were the most important issues?
  • What were the pain points?
  • Was there anything specific to this industry?

4) Describe briefly the solutions / approaches.

  • How were possible solutions determined?
  • Were other options considered?
  • Why were the solutions or actions taken?
  • Were risk factors considered?
  • What was to be achieved, preserved, avoided and/or eliminated?

5) Describe briefly the results / current situation.

  • What were the tangible results? Increased sales or productivity? Reduced expenses? Greater efficiencies? Please quantify.
  • What were the intangible results?
  • What lessons were learned?

After the title and brief company overview, be sure to stick with a common template. Choose “challenges, solutions and results” or “issues, approaches and current situation.” Also, confirm how the case study can be used:

  • Will the company allow the case study to be posted on a website and be downloadable?
  • Will the company provide a quote (or can you write something) to be included in the case study?
  • Will the company be willing to speak to the media or customers about the case study?

An excellent case study can make for some excellent media coverage. Advertising Age just recently ran this “Case Study: How a New York Hospital Chain Overhauled Its Brand.”Kissmetrics offers “Eight Tips for Creating a Great Case Study.”

Case studies are effective marketing and promotional tools. Next to white papers, many professionals consider them the second most popular device used to promote the benefits of a company, product or service. If you want to persuade others to adopt your point of view, buy your product or vote for you, a case study will put your buyer, reader or listener in the shoes of a decision maker.

Randy E. Pruett
Vice President & Account Manager