How to organize a business case, step-by-step
A colleague in health system marketing counsels his case study writers to “Get the patient to the hospital.” Wrong! When it comes to case studies, it’s about the client’s problem and results, silly, not your solutions.
“The best case studies focus on the client’s problems, not on your solution.”
Here’s how to use the feature-style story structure to organize a case study.
I. Introduce the problem and client in the intro.
A. Cover the desk-pounding moment in the lead. What caused your client to search for your solution? Here’s an example, from a case study my team wrote for Sprint TekNet:
B. Describe the client in the background section. Don’t weigh the lead down with the client’s details. Save this for the background section, aka the blah-blah-blah background. Include any details, such as economic issues, that make the problem you introduced in the lead more significant:
C. Summarize the need in the nut graph. You may be able to handle this with a client quote:
Note that you might flip the nut graph and background section, depending on whether you need the client description to set up the need in the nut graph.
II. Outline the problem, solution and results in the body.
A. Detail the problem in the first section. Be specific: Name names and number numbers. Use a calculator, if necessary, to quantify the business needs.
B. Outline the solution in the second section. Your clients care more about their problems and results than about your organization and its stuff. A few broad brushstrokes will get this job done
C. Describe the results in the third section. Be specific: Name names and number numbers. Bonus points for mirroring the problems you outlined in the first section of the body.
III. Wind up in the conclusion.
A. Transition to the future in the Wrapup. In this case, the conclusion is a before-and-after comparison:
B. Show how far we’ve come — or where we’re going — in the Kicker. Leave a lasting impression with a concrete, creative, provocative final paragraph.
Case in point
Case studies are a staple of marketing writing. Use this structure to make the most of your next case in point.