How to write a good case
Working in the advertising industry, I have become familiar with the discipline of creating a good, creative case study. But cases are not easy to write as they have a special way of presenting the information. Here's my advice on why cases are so valuable and how you should approach them.
A transparent look into your work
So why has the case format become so popular? When our prospects are scanning the market (either consciously or unconsciously), they are looking for attributes in which to compare. Whether it be our success stories, client endorsements, or infographics, they need to get a genuine insight into who we are and how we go about things. And a great way to help our prospects in this process is to showcase our best work in a true and visual story.
In a time, where trust in brands is in decline, cases are a great way to communicate transparently. As in most other scenarios, where consumers are to put faith in your business, they will have their barriers up. And clear insights into how you approach and work with clients can definitely help bring unwanted consumer trust barriers down.
How to structure the case
When it comes to structuring the case, I can recommend a formula that is well recognized in the advertising industry, as it helps the reader break down your work and follow the train of thought:
Challenge: What was the problem?
Process: How did you go about it?
Solution: What did you do?
Results: What came out of it?
This section is all about establishing interest. The key is to find something that your prospects are also struggling with, as it makes the challenge more relevant. Working in an internationally-oriented advertising agency, a common challenge I see is Corporate Marketing's ability to localize their global content. For instance:
Communicating the release of a new B2B-product in 15 different markets
Experience tells us that the process, although it might not be the sexiest thing to promote in advertising, is what our clients want to talk to us about. Like in most other relationships, they need to identify if we are the right match: Can we find the root cause of the problem? Set the right team with the right competencies? And how do we approach the project as a whole from A to B? Putting a few words on this, will get you far.
Working with a centralized corporate division in Denmark and gathering local insights from the different markets in the US, Asia and Europe.
This is where you showcase what you actually did. Break down the most important aspects of your solution an remember to back them up with visuals.
Created a hero video for the new product with a global marketing toolbox with banners, print ads and social media executions for the local markets to use.
This one is self-explanatory. Remember that you can both use quantitative results, such as new customers generated, conversions percentages, the percent increase in awareness, etc. or more qualitative results, such as a quote from the client.
The campaign supported a strong product launch with a 20% increase in value sales globally
How to execute the case
With your case written, the question then becomes: How should I execute it?
If you are working in sales, the case could be a part of your slide deck, when pitching new business to the client or used as a teaser for cold calling. In the marketing department, the case might go on your website as a reference of work, it could become part of the monthly newsletter or be used as a lead-building piece on social media.
These are just a few of my recommendations, but the point is that you should explore just how the case can work for you depending on your position.
Cases are a great, transparent way to market yourself through your work and build leads. Using a structure as suggested above, you can explore different ways to execute it in your work with marketing and communication.
And remember: Cases have one important common aspect. They revolve around the work you do for clients, so ask for permission and have a dialogue with your client on the aspects of the case before publishing it.
"If you wait until there is another case study in your industry, you will be too late!" - Seth Godin