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How to Design Case Studies

Case studies are a great tool to showcase your work in detail to your clients. Some clients need more than just a list to judge your quality of work, especially if they are looking for a long-term association and/or willing to pay a premium price.

Case studies are also a great way to build trust with your new or potential clients because they get a clear idea of how you work.

In a fast-paced business environment, it is often difficult to communicate every aspect of the project, and non-functional requirements cannot always be measured. This is true especially if the final product is complex. Showing them case studies allows for a highly focused discussion on requirements, and ultimately it makes your job much easier.

It also gives your clients a clear idea about what the final output will be like.  Because they know what you did and how you did, it helps build your credentials and can be used to construct a great selling point, when combined with testimonials from previous clients.

Now that we know what the purpose of creating a case study is, let us talk certain key points to keep in mind while creating case studies.

How to create case studies

If you have to write functional case studies, then it is important to understand how you can create a rich content and structure it in a compelling way that showcases your talent. The first steps to crafting remarkable case studies selecting the right kind of project to showcase.

Choosing projects for case studies

Whether the number of projects to showcase in the case study is low or high, the decision has to be well thought of. To help you with this decision, you can ask yourself a few questions which can be stepping stones to choosing the right project to profile in the case study.

The first question you want to ask is "What industry am I targeting?". Answering this question helps you reduce the number of options to consider. For example, a social media manager might have designed and executed campaigns for many companies working in different sectors. She can choose to focus on beauty industry only and select campaigns performed for beauty industry clients.

The second question that helps you define your scope is "How exactly did I help the clients?". The answer to this question should be more about your process and for which of the clients did your unique methods produce maximum results. This also helps you analyze your own approach for each of those projects. You could also select the most effective strategies and use them as best practices going forward. Once you see the differences clearly, it becomes abundantly clear which project will help you grab the attention of highest paying clients.

Tell the client's story through Ghosting

Another strategy you can use is called Ghosting. This technique leverages comparison to highlight the experiences which the clients had with previous contractors and how you were able to overcome them.

Clients may share the details of their previous engagement in the initial introductory meetings. However, don't just rely on the client, be prepared to ask them a set of questions - in a non-confrontational tone. Sometimes, clients have had negative experiences with other contractors, and they are trying to move on to a new contractor.

If they are outsourcing their function for the first time and you are their primary external contractor, you have a better marketing angle since you are showing them that you have worked with first-timers. In this case, you helped your client to "go from nothing and become a master of the process" - this is even more of an exciting storyline.

This helps you explicitly highlight how you helped your client and made their (business) life easier. Of course, you could follow the "basic advantages" approach and simply mention the final growth stats, i.e., what you did for them, but talking about the client's past experiences adds a certain depth to their story and makes your own story all the more desirable and more saleable.

Highlight the most important client benefit - and stick with it

During your engagement with your chosen client, you might have achieved several targets. You might have contributed to their growth in more than one way. There are always primary and auxiliary advantages - and it's good to have them!

However, when it comes to a case study, you have a limited amount of time trying to convince your potential customer. Showing them too many advantages can be distracting. So, choose one primary advantage and only one secondary advantage out of your list of results for the chosen client.

Use the primary benefit the client experienced in your headline. Structure your case study in such a way that more of the emphasis on the primary result, but give sufficient footage to the secondary result as well.

Keep it short and make it visual

It is recommended to pick a maximum word limit so that you do not make it too long. Your case study should ideally not be more than 5 to 7 pages. If you have too much text, consider using images to replace the text - but keep your images light on words.

Images help the readers retain more information, and they are also a great tool to break the monotony induced by a large block of text. Be sure to check the performance of web host you are displaying this case study on because too many images in your case study may slow down your website.

Use a conversational tone - don't make your case study a boring read

The typical problem-solution-results approach in case studies misses a crucial hook that grabs the reader's' attention. So in the first paragraph, try to use emotions to make your point about what was the client's situation before your engagement started.

Also, trying to sell all the time through a case study is a rather counter-intuitive approach. If you want to inspire the readers and make them happy, you have to take them on a journey. These are only some of the ways to diversify the tone of your case study.

Use Testimonials and Quotes to spruce up your case study

So far, in your case study, you have shown the all the benefits and tried your best to convince the prospective client that you are the best fit. However, has the client been assured? You can never tell this for sure! This is why - you need testimonials and quotes from your older clients.

Testimonials are the direct benefit statement from your old clients to your new/prospective clients; it effectively develops a personal connection between the two clients.

It takes your client from a confused, indecisive state to a satisfied, confident customer and brings him closer to a purchase decision.

Wrapping it up

Case studies are an effective medium to attract high-paying clients. The kind of project you choose to highlight and your storytelling approach – both have equal importance.

A case study is not a direct sales pitch, but your opportunity to showcase what value you will bring to your client.

Kiera Hayes is a passionate Blogger and Web Developer. She enjoys reading and writing articles whenever she gets time from her work.

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