How to Write an Effective Case Study

by LaurenM on July 10, 2013

One of the best ways to share and communicate your firm’s capabilities is to describe your past experience through case studies.  Yet, for many, this is a confusing exercise.  Where should I start?  What information should I include? Who’s point of view should the case study be written from?  How should it be organized?

Answer?

Tell a story.  Ready?  Once upon a time…

Seriously?

Yes.

Why?  People like stories!

To be more scientific – - a case study written from the perspective of the hero in distress (client) aids future heroes in distress (prospects) in applying the story to their own situations, and helps them imagine their own successes alongside the hero’s helper (the firm offering solution).

Here is a helpful, easy to follow, step-by-step summary from Bill Whitley’s the Art of the Rainmaker: the Message, Questions, and Insights that Attract and Engage Clients.

This can be organized as follows:

1. Background
2. Challenge
3. Solution
4. Notable Results

Need this spelled out in more detail?  Here is more great wisdom from Simon Townley’s blog Write Mindset.

“…A good case study starts out with our hero – our satisfied customer. Like every good hero, he wants something, he has a story goal. He may want to find the perfect ice cream; he may want to buy the car of his dreams; he may want to learn to play the piano; or he might be looking for a world-class data centre where he can host the corporate databases and applications for which he holds prime responsibility. You get the idea.

There is conflict however: he doesn’t know how to reach his story goal.

This conflict is resolved when he discovers product X or service Y. We see how he is able to reach his goal, and come to a satisfying happy-ending when product X delivers a huge range of benefits.

So, to write an effective case study, you need to remember you are telling a story about a person or a company that wanted to achieve something, what they did about that, and how it all worked out in the end. It gives a proven, rock-solid structure for a case study that works every time:

1) The problem – the status quo, the situation at the start of the story, where we see our hero/customer struggling to achieve his story goal.

2) The solution – we show how our hero found product X, and how he used it to achieve his goal.

3) The benefits – we show how using product X has enriched our hero’s life and made him happy-ever-after.

This formula should work for any case study you need to write, be it for a big company, or just a testimonial for online marketing. The story can be a few sentences long, or many thousands of words. The structure can remain the same, only the level of detail needs to change.

Remember, however, to give your story a touch of life. Every good story needs a believable character, so include details of the person/company and a quote which lets us hear the proof in their own words.

Finally, make sure the quotes don’t read like corporate committee speak. Many a case-study has been ruined by the inclusion of so-called ‘quotes’ that don’t sound like something any human being would ever actually say. If the customer can only supply that kind of material, then change it so it sounds like a real quote, or write something for them. In either case, go back and get their approval.”

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How to Use Instagram to Drive Engagement

by LaurenM on February 10, 2013

I love Instagram. I don’t care that so many of the pictures I scroll through are of the so-called cliche shots of baby booties, work outfits, latte art, airplane wings, or reflection shots as one strolls by a store glass window. I want them all. The more the better.

Besides. Life is hard enough as it is. Reality is most of the time blammo in your face. Why not take 5 delicious minutes every morning to slip away and seek refuge in the delightful simplicities of life while the shower water heats up? Maybe it’s an escape, maybe I’m in denial. Who cares. It’s therapeutic.

But beyond Instagram serving as a little “happy place,” Instagram has a huge potential to drive significant engagement from your Instagram pictures to your other internet properties: your blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Here are some best practices to use Instagram to drive engagement:

1. Drive followers to your Blog:

When you write a new blog post, use a picture from the post, or upload something relevant that ties to the post’s content. Post to Instagram and in the comment include: “New blog post” and a few brief words about what the post is about. Also, make sure your Instagram profile has a link to your blog and always remember to also include in the comment “link in profile” to remind people where they can view it.

For a good example, check out Kelle Hampton’s feed (etst on Instagram). She does this very well!

2. Drive followers to Facebook:

The possibilities of driving your Instagram followers to your Facebook page (best if a fan page) are, with a little creativity, pretty awesome. Let’s say, for example, you are an Etsy seller. You make iPhone cases. You have some stock you want to get rid of for the upcoming season. What to do? Simply take a picture of your iPhone cases and write a comment something like: FACEBOOK Sale! Friday 2/16 @1pm all cases 75% off! First come first serve.

Your really passionate followers who are in the market for a new case might set up a reminder to stop by your Facebook page at this time.

Another example. Let’s say you host an annual conference. You can upload a picture of the conference from last year and tell your followers that on 2/16 @1pm you’ll be announcing a secret discount on Facebook to attend.

Instagram is less ethereal than Twitter in the sense that there are typically fewer Instagram uploads than tweets so you’re more likely to be seen, and chronologically ordered unlike Facebook which is more algorithm based on which contacts are closest to you.

Brainstorm how you can best interact with your people and go nuts.

3. Drive followers to Twitter:

Obviously you can use Twitter to drive new followers to Instagram by uploading Instagram pics and tweeting them. But you can also drive Instagram users to follow you on Twitter by taking a picture of your Twitter account and saying something like: “if we’re not connected on Twitter, you can follow me @exilauren.” Boom. Easy. Once they are following you on Twitter, and you tweet your new Instagram pics, you’ll drive them back to Instagram. Happy, happy. Works both ways.

4. Drive followers to your Website:

Similar to Facebook or your blog, use Instagram to drive people to your website by uploading a teaser picture on Instagram that will entice people to go to your website. Let’s say for example you are Hunter boots. You launch a new line of Spring boots and want your Instagram followers to know. Take a picture of a model in the trendy new boots and let people know exactly where on your site they can go to find them.

Or if you’re having a sale on coats, take a picture of a model in the coat and tell people what the discount is, and where they can find it, and of course drive urgency by letting people know the sale is only available for 24 hours, etc.

Better yet, send an Instagram sensation a pair of the boots/coat and have them give a review and link you in their Instagram comment: “LOVE these @Hunterboots. Thank you!!!”

The monkey see monkey do effect of Instagram sensations is NUTS. People are highly influenced by others. Especially by people they admire.

I’m still exploring the power of Instagram hashtags. Personally, I don’t find them super super helpful, and when I include often just lead to lots of SPAM followers.

Let me know your thoughts about the power of Instagram to drive engagement!

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