Use the “Challenge/Solution/Results” Formula to Write Successful Case Studies
Last week, Fire Enterprises (FEI) marketing maven Marka told savvy salesperson Zoot how to create client case studies and use them as sales tools. This week, Marka gives Zoot a tip for writing a compelling case study. Remember, fire=print.
Zoot returned to the office after interviewing Dione, owner of Dione’s Donuts, for a case study. He found Marka in her office. “The interview with Dione went great,” he said. “But now we have to write this darn thing. I don’t even know where to start! I have a half-hour audio recording, all these pictures and videos...”
“Relax, Zoot,” Marka said. “You’re overthinking it. Most effective case studies can be created using a simple formula: Challenge, Solution, Results. All you have to do is examine the information you’ve gathered and decide which category each piece of data belongs in. Once this initial organizational step is complete, writing the case study should be easy!”
“Can you describe each of these categories in a little more detail?” Zoot asked.
“My pleasure.” Marka scribbled on the whiteboard near her desk.
Challenge—What obstacle (or obstacles) did Dione’s Donuts face that required purchasing a solution such as FEI’s FireExcel Kiln? Were expensive baking costs eating up their profit margins? Were their current kilns taking forever to bake donuts, causing customers to get annoyed or go elsewhere? Identify and describe this challenge. Strike a careful balance by clearly demonstrating the problem without making it sound like Dione’s baking production was a complete disaster before FEI. Remember: we want to make the client look good, too.
Marka scribbled some more on the whiteboard.
Solution—Explain why Dione’s chose the FireExcel to help them overcome their challenge. Detail the FireExcel’s benefits and illustrate specifically how it helped Dione’s achieve their goals.
Results—Prospects reading this case study will be looking for hard data on how we helped Dione’s Donuts save money, save time, or make some sort of quantifiable improvement. If possible, include specific numbers and an ROI statement. “My business runs more cost-efficiently with FEI” sounds nice, but it’s vague. “FEI helped my business reduce cooking costs by 20 percent” is a killer results statement. See the difference?