Writing Case Studies Using the Reader-Centered Approach

Case studies are a highly-effective selling tool for your products or services. You take a success story where your company’s products or services provided a successful solution for one of your clients – and write a 1-to-5 page summary of how you were able to solve your client’s problem. In doing so, you demonstrate the value and effectiveness of your products or service solutions.

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Potential clients are hungry for this kind of information. A success story with a previous client provides evidence of the value of your products or services. The potential client wants to know how your products or services can solve their problems as well. A case study may make the difference in convincing a potential client to do business with you.

That’s why it’s best to use a Reader-Centered Approach to write your case studies. With this approach, you write your success story from the point of view of the reader – that is, the potential client – who will read the case study.

What Is Your Market?

First, define your market(s) for the case study. Which customers, in which markets, are you trying to impress with your success story? Will your case study be a general case study about your work for a large, high-profile company or organization? Or will your case study target customers in a specific market, or sub-set of a market?

It’s important to have both kinds of case studies. General case studies show the versatility of your company in providing solutions to different, high-profile industries, hospitals, universities, government organizations, etc. Market-specific case studies let you target potential customers within those same markets.

Once you have defined the markets for your case study, select a success story for a client company that appeals to those markets. For example, if you are targeting high-tech customers with your case study, select a success story where you provided a solution to a high-tech client.

Who Is Your Reader?

What position will your reader hold at the company where they work? Are they the CEO? The CFO? The Chief Technology Officer? The Director of Business Operations? The VP of Sales and Marketing?

Ask yourself, who have you dealt with in the past? Look at the client company that is the subject of your case study. Who did you work with there? Which executive or manager made the first call to engage your company? Who made the decision to buy? These same kinds of executives and managers at other companies will be the people who will read your case studies.

One trick I’ve learned is to go to your client company’s web site, and read the short biographies of the executives and managers that you will mention in the case study. It’s probable that readers of your case study will have similar backgrounds, duties, and responsibilities.

What Does Your Reader Know?

How familiar is your reader with the basic concepts of your products or services? What do they know about the solutions you provide? What do they NOT know? How much will you need to explain to them?

If your readers are familiar with your products or technology, you probably won’t need to explain the basic concepts. You can focus instead on the technical features of your products or services, and how those features provided benefits to the client company.

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