How to Make a Case Study Format

by Ian Linton; Updated September 26, 2017
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Case studies give businesses a platform to demonstrate their ability to solve problems and deliver measurable benefits for customers. The widely used format for a business case study consists of an introduction or overview, followed by background information on the customer, a review of the customer’s problems or challenges, a description of the company’s approach to solving the problem, and a summary of the benefits to the customer.

Engage Readers with Strong Headlines

A case study is a selling tool and must engage readers’ attention immediately. Use the title to highlight benefits that are important to the reader. Headlines such as “How a manufacturer saved millions of dollars in inventory costs,” or “How a retailer increased sales per square foot by 15 percent,” appeal to companies facing similar challenges and provide a reason for reading on.

Summarize the Story

Busy customers don’t have time to read the entire content of every marketing communication they receive. By summarizing the main points of the case in an overview or executive summary, you can save readers time and help them decide if there is value in reading the full study and giving your company further consideration. The overview should briefly describe the customer’s challenge and include a bullet point list of key benefits.

Provide Background on the Customer

Including information on trends and developments in the customer’s industry demonstrates that you have an understanding of the issues facing that market and helps to establish your credentials. In addition to describing economic and business conditions in the market, outline the customer’s position, achievements and goals.

Describe the Challenges

The marketing consultancy APG recommends using a storytelling approach to engage readers and give greater impact to the case study. For example, describe how a customer faced a serious problem, such as losing market share or facing soaring costs. Explain why earlier efforts failed to solve the problems, and then show how these problems threatened the customer's business.

Explain Your Approach

Continuing the storytelling analogy, explain how your company tackled the customer's problems. Describe the resources and expertise you were able to bring to the project. Include an analysis of the customer’s problem and the strategy you recommended to overcome it, including budgets and timescales.

Show Measurable Results

To demonstrate the success of the project, include a list of tangible benefits. For example, the project may have led to an increase in sales or market share, a reduction in production costs or an improvement in productivity. Where possible, provide figures that the customer is happy to make public. Include quotations from the customer about the business value of the project to add authority to the case.

About the Author

Based in the United Kingdom, Ian Linton has been a professional writer since 1990. His articles on marketing, technology and distance running have appeared in magazines such as “Marketing” and “Runner's World.” Linton has also authored more than 20 published books and is a copywriter for global companies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and economics from Bristol University.

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