Case studies

A decent stock of case studies is essential for any vendor. They are unique in your marketing armoury:

  • you get to talk directly about your own products and their strengths
  • by implication you can show the shortcomings in your competitors’ products
  • editors actually want you to talk about your products

Your task is to get your company name and products in front of readers. The editor wants to provide solutions to the readers’ problems. The case study is the one form of editorial that quite legitimately does both at the same time. So if an editor ever asks you for a case study, it is unforgivable if you cannot immediately offer a choice of ready-made, pertinent and timely samples.

If you are very lucky you might find a publication that will publish your story as a complete article. More usually you will be contacted by the editor or a journalist working on a particular article, and be asked for an illustrative case study. In this latter case there will be no time to generate a new case study; that’s why you need a continuously maintained stock. You need to be able to answer, automatically, “Of course; I’ve got just what you need.” Anything less is a wasted opportunity for you, and an unearned opportunity for your competitors.

The case study itself needs to written with both objectives, yours and the editor’s, in mind. As a complete article you can offer it to magazines and then print it as a glossy leaflet. If a publication runs the story you will both benefit from a flash on the subsequent leaflets: “First published in xxxx magazine”. If they don’t run the story you’ve got additional and compelling marketing material for your sales team, and you can still reply to that journalist, “Of course; I’ve got just what you need.”

But while writing a story that is a compelling read from beginning to end, make sure that it is easy to ‘lift’ a few paragraphs that can be combined and still make sense. So within the full story, include a paragraph that effectively summarises the problem, another that summarises your solution, and finally one that summarises the result of your work. That’s the basic structure of your case study: problem, solution, result (but don’t ever use those three words in isolation as sub-headings).

Editors also love quotes, preferably from the user rather than the vendor. Make sure that there are at least three quotes from your user, talking about the value of your solution rather than you or your product.

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