Case studies are common on the websites of tech companies. Problem, solution, result – most cases seem pretty similar and it feels like writing them is not a big deal. But when was the last time you read a case study that made you excited to work with the company that wrote it? In fact, effective cases are rare. But why? In our opinion, the problem is that most writers focus on the format, and not on how to make the case study convincing. After all, the reason why a case study exists is to convince the reader to buy your product or service.
Many of our colleagues make the following mistakes when writing cases:
- They portray their company as an "order-taker," listing what was done on the project but not revealing why.
- They keep a detailed log of everything that happened on the project, no matter how small or irrelevant it seems.
- They erase the client from the story, their thoughts, ideas, goals, and actions.
- They do not offer anything useful to other companies – a lesson learned, an approach to solving a problem, an insight that could help them if they were in a similar situation.
We recently spoke with Kateryna Abrosymova, co-founder and content director at Kaiiax, about a workshop she held for our old client Yalantis. The goal was to teach content writers how to write high-quality case studies.
Here is what she told us...
Q: Yalantis is renowned in the market for its successful marketing strategies and has its own marketing department. What led Yalantis to seek out Kaiiax?
A: Yalantis asked us to help train their writers to write effective case studies. The reason was that the Sales & Marketing managers at Yalantis were not satisfied with the quality of the case studies created by their writers.
Q: Why is it crucial to invest significant resources in creating case studies instead of, say, articles?
A: Among various types of content, a case study is arguably the most significant. It lets a company showcase its knowledge and expertise while addressing essential questions such as "What value do we offer our clients?" "Why should you choose us?" and "What kind of problems can we solve for you?"
Creating this type of content demands not only excellent writing skills but also a deep understanding of marketing. You need someone who can write compelling content while also having the marketing expertise to understand the audience, the product, and how to persuade readers to purchase the company's services. Unfortunately, many content specialists in tech companies lack this experience, resulting in case studies that fail to achieve their full potential.
Q: What has Yalantis been able to improve during and since they worked with you?
A: We held a five-hour workshop with the Yalantis writing team. I don't think that this is enough for radical changes, but judging by the writers' feedback, here is what we managed to improve:
- A better understanding of the client and the complexities in their business that the company can solve
If before, in cases, writers focused on "what we did," now they understand that they should focus on "why we did this." There is a cause-and-effect relationship between a client's business goal or problem and a company's decision, and it is important to show it in the case study.
- More effective team interviewing
During the workshop, I was able to observe how the writers conduct interviews with the team to learn more about the project. In my opinion, this is where the most mistakes were made.
The main problem was that the writers came to the call with a list of questions that they created after independently studying the information about the case. Almost all of these questions were aimed at explaining complex technical details about creating a product based on the technology the company set out to promote. But the reader doesn't care as much about the technology as about how the problem was solved.
The writers ran the call like a Q&A, asking the developers questions while sharing their screens. It seemed like they thought they knew better than the people involved in the project, people who directly communicated with the client.
We opted to switch things up and transform the Q&A style calls into "discovery" calls. During these calls, an expert will take the lead, rather than the writers. The writer's role is to take notes and ask follow-up questions, concentrating on the conversation instead of relying on prepared questions.
- Understanding how to write an effective case study
The purpose of the workshop was to educate writers on the art of crafting compelling case studies. We took on one of Yalantis's most intricate projects and dissected all the crucial elements of the case. During the final lecture, I provided feedback on the writers' initial drafts. Although the final version was not approved (since that was not the aim of the workshop), everyone gained insight into how to refine the case to its optimal form.
Q: How was the case study writing workshop built? What results did you expect from the participants?
A: The workshop was built as follows:
1. We started with a general lecture about what an effective case study is, and looked at examples of effective case studies in various industries.
2. Next, we talked in detail about the three main parts of the case study: problem, solution, and result. My goal here was to convey to the writers that this three-act structure is built on understanding the audience (problem), the value provided by the company (solution), and the promise of the company (result).
3. After this lecture, I asked the writers to briefly describe the problem, solution, and result for the case study we took as an example. It was curious to learn that each writer had their own idea about these three things, and they were all different from each other, even though they had the same info on the case. That showed us that the team didn't really get what the audience wanted, what value the company brought, and the promise that Yalantis was making.
4. At the next stage, I decided to see how writers conduct interviews. After listening to three interviews with different people, I noted the mistakes, and we discussed them in the next lecture. The writers received the homework to create an outline for their case.
5. In the following session, we spent time reviewing outlines and discussing the concept of storytelling in case studies. We explored eight storytelling elements that can be incorporated into a case study to make it more captivating. It's essential to create emotional appeal in the case as potential leads may not be intrigued by stories about unknown companies. To wrap up the session, the writers were given the assignment to write the first draft.
6. In the final lecture of the workshop, I gave feedback to the writers on their drafts, and we recapped the most important points we talked about during all five lectures.
Q: What was the feedback from the writers after attending the workshop?
A: Here is their feedback:
To be honest, all I want to say here is thank you very much :) This workshop indeed changed everything about how we wrote case studies before (at least for me). I understood how boring and unattractive our previous works were and that there are other aspects that can be more important for readers than technologies that say nothing without specific context or a reader's appropriate background knowledge. Now I have a strong desire to rewrite all the case studies I worked on.
Your lectures helped me to look at my writing from a different angle and encouraged me to think differently. I can tell that my writing has definitely improved when I applied your techniques and advice. Thanks for sharing your experience and presenting everything in such a brisk and inspiring way. I'll continue honing my skills using the knowledge you shared.
For me, especially valuable were the insights on improving case studies written by copywriters. Very informative and right on point.
For me, the whole training was useful and it is difficult to identify something specific. A lot of useful tips on writing, and interviewing process. It was especially interesting to listen to advice from your experience.
The workshop proved to be a valuable and enjoyable experience for both Yalantis and us. We were thrilled to assist Yalantis in improving the expertise of their content team, and are looking forward to the publication of the case study we worked on during the workshop on their website.
If you've noticed that your case studies could use a boost, look no further than Kaiiax. We specialize in creating content that delivers results, and we can train your team to do the same.