Write a powerful case study intro


Writers block is alive and well…

None of us like a blank page. Even writers with many years’ experience will go a long way to avoid it.

You are sitting in front of your screen having read the client brief, recorded the interview or made copious notes, and found the perfect case study template. You have your cuppa handy and a biscuit for when the going gets tough.  You rub your hands together and think, “right – let’s get this started”.

Then you sit there and stare at the screen, and stare, and stare …

After the killer headline – this is the hardest bit to write. It boils down to finding the perfect ‘hook’ or elevator pitch that captures the reader.  Not easy.

In this blog post I’ve covered just three things you need to create to make sure your case study intro is perfect.

1. Make it about your reader

One thing I see that clients forget is that the case study is not about the business that it is featuring, nor the product or service used.  It’s all about the reader and how the content relates to them.  They want to see what they can gain from the experience and what will help them to drive their own business forward.

The whole purpose of a case study is to create a compelling testimonial that firstly your readers can identify with, and secondly overcomes their pain points and objections. That means every part of the case study, including quotes, facts and figures should be carefully selected to position the product or service in your readers minds.  This mean that like any other piece of marketing, you should have a detailed understanding of who will be reading your case study and why. Writing for the wrong audience is a waste of your time and theirs.

Once you understand your intended readers, you can write something a lot more compelling and realistic in a way that appeals to them.  Use the right language to describe the business in your case study so that your target readers can relate to them and see themselves in the same situation.  It’s also important to be clear about the challenges that they faced so your readers can say “Oh, that’s me too’.

This section shouldn’t contain general company descriptions (you can do that elsewhere, for example in a side bar). Instead make sure you paint a picture of the people inside the business and their needs, plans, goals, problems, challenges and dreams.

The holy grail of case studies is for your readers to be able to visualise themselves enjoying the benefit your case study is demonstrating, a benefit only you can provide.

How to make it about the reader…

Keep the client’s company description short and sweet – just enough for your reader to identify with them.  You can sprinkle their quotes throughout the case study and the detailed description can be in a sidebar or similar if required.

Make the business you are featuring relatable to your target audience.

Really work on bringing out the company’s pain points and make them feel painful; your readers may well be struggling with the same problems. Don’t be insipid, be bold and paint the picture.

2. Make a promise your readers will care about

When starting your case study, think of the introduction as a ‘journey’ like the start of a story.  In most stories you need:

  • A hero or heroine (this will be your client)
  • What’s is the pain they are experiencing (this is their challenge before using the product or service being discussed)
  • Some sort of story arc about what happens along the way: the start and end of the story and a promise to reveal all by the end of the case study

In this way you are building an expectation in your reader and they will be keen to read on to explore what happens.

This works best when you show your most dramatic result in your headline, and then promise to reveal how you achieved that result in your intro. Your promise should be something your audience are interested in to encourage them to read on.

How to create a story arc…

Write as if you’re narrating a particularly fascinating story—use simple language (a passion of mine), and keep the story moving forward at a brisk pace.  It helps to map this out beforehand – possibly using a storyboard – so you don’t forget any details.

Outline the results, but don’t at this stage go into detail – that’s what the rest of the case study is for.  Obviously, your headline is shouting your biggest statistic (the “so what?” of your case study) – but remember that the details can be drawn out for those with the same problem – almost like a passage of discovery.

3. It’s not about you

We’ve all seen pretty grim case studies that drone on about how great a company is and the history of the business and lots of other details that just aren’t relevant.  People read case studies to find out how you can help their business and view them largely as evidence that you can do the job. They want to read about the detail of the solution and what benefits came out of the project.

The whole case study should demonstrate this, but it also means that the intro should be short and clear.  In practical terms this means you only have one or two paragraphs to set up the story by establishing the problem and an outline of the solution.

You must make sure that you establish who the client is, why your readers should care about them, and what challenges they faced. Then it’s time to shut up and hand over to the business featuring in your case study and let them speak for themselves.

How to be concise…

Use an explanation to set the scene and to glue quotes together into a cohesive narrative.

Let the business featured describe the challenges they faced in their own words.

Don’t keep regurgitate your client’s words, keep things moving forward.

Next steps …

If you need help in writing case studies for your business, then give The Bid Writer a call on 07778 657003.

Alison Reeves

My clients win more Bids, Tenders and Proposals.  Don't forget - you only get one chance to make a first impression.  Most business is lost through poor communication, not through the products or services you offer. Bid Writing, Bid Writing Training Courses, Case Studies, Reviewing Editing and Proofreading, Tender Proof your Business, Build a Better Bid Library, General Business Writing Training.

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