So, You Want to Write a Case Study

Hold on, what a terrible way to introduce a blog, especially one about case studies. No one actually wants to write a case study. It can be a long process that doesn’t exactly deliver thrills at every turn. Let me start over: You’ve heard you should have some case studies, and you’re trying to figure out how to write one.

This is good, because case studies are one of the most useful marketing tools out there, especially for business to business (or “B2B” in business jargon) companies, products, and services. In fact, case studies are not only among the most common pieces of marketing collateral—70 percent of companies use them—but they’re also considered to be the most effective, ranked second only to in-person events.

But, let’s be honest here: Writing marketing content can be a slog, and case studies are no exception. To make your job even tougher, everyone seems to have different (and often contradictory) opinions about how to actually go about writing one. If you try Googling for good advice, good luck—there are almost 42 million results when you search for “how to write a marketing case study.” (See my note below.)

Life Is Short—Write Smart, Not Hard

I also know that life is short, and there are any number of things you’d rather do than write a case study: visit the dentist, volunteer for a tax audit, sit next to a screaming kid on a plane—I get it. I’m a firm believer that writing should be as quick and painless as possible, and all of my advice is couched in that philosophy.

If, as I claim and as you will soon discover, writing case studies ranks pretty low on the list of fun life activities, why not just pay a professional to do it? Go ahead, be my guest; paying for case studies keeps people like me in business. However, be prepared to pay anywhere from $500 to $2,500 or more per case study, depending on the experience of the freelancer or content firm you hire. Also, you may not be entirely happy with the quality, which will mean multiple rounds of revisions. You and your colleagues will always know far more about your company and products than any contractor, even a long-term one, ever will.

“But, writing is hard!” you might be saying. “Can’t I just make some PowerPoint slides or a video?” Of course you can. It’s your company and/or marketing plan; you can do what you want. But, video case studies are an even bigger pain to produce than written ones, and, as amazing as this sounds, many people still prefer to read good old-fashioned written case studies. If you’re going to invest time in creating one, producing a written case study will give you a versatile marketing asset that will last for a long time and give you an excellent return on your efforts.

What This Blog Covers

This site gives you just about everything you need to write your first case study from start to finish, including an overview of all of the parts that make up a case study, strategies to find customers to participate in them, simple editing tips, and more.

If you’re looking for other useful stuff, like sample outreach and interview materials, not to mention a full sample case study interview transcript and resulting document, you can head on over to Amazon.com and check out DIY Case Studies: A Drop-Dead Simple Guide to Writing Killer Marketing Case StudiesIt’s like the Google Maps of case study writing with turn-by-turn directions. That’s worth a couple bucks, right?

If you want to do it the hard way, then feel free to read through these posts. Questions? Feel free to leave a comment or email me at gretchen (dot) diycasestudies (at) gmail (dot) com.

Note: The term “case study” can mean different things to different people, so I want to make clear that this guide deals with marketing case studies only. I… “invested” my time getting an advanced degree in journalism school, not an MBA program, so this guide won’t be much help if you’re looking for a guide on how to write a business case study. And if you’re looking for tips on how to write a medical case study, you’re going to have to refine your search terms and try again; dammit Jim, I’m a writer, not a doctor!

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