A good case study or interview is a good story – except it’s about truth and proof.
A well-written case study will showcase your glittering business highs and prove your worth. A brilliantly conducted interview with clients or stakeholders will eke out hidden gems and valuable insights to then write up as compelling articles and stories.
Here, I’ve grouped writing copy for case studies with writing copy for interviews together as they often tie in. The key thing required for both is, of course, preparation.
How to write effective case studies
How often have you looked at a case study and, well, just dozed off?
The easiest thing in the world is to stick to the same old same old, tried and tested recipe of ‘Problem. Solution. Results’. Why do what everyone else does when writing a case study provides the perfect opportunity to reflect your brand copy style and tone of voice?
Spice things up. A well-written case study by a professional freelance copywriter is a goldmine. It tells the world about the amazing clients you’ve worked with. It proclaims the clever thinking you demonstrated. It shouts from the rooftops about the mountainous challenges that you – and only you – were able to help your clients overcome. And it can end in a glorious fanfare of fireworks when revealing how you made their business profits rocket by 100% or drove customers in hyena packs to their website.
As for the absolute glistening red cherry on the icing, you can include a client testimonial too. After all, why blow your own trumpet when you can let someone else do it for you?
A case study is a brilliant marketing tool and a chance to show off your abilities, whether to send to prospective clients or to showcase on your website.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
I always start by doing some research: into the client’s business, into the topic itself and into the person I may need to interview (LinkedIn is the perfect place for this).
You may already have all the info you need as a PPT presentation or in bullet point format. Or I may need to interview you or speak to key stakeholders/your client which a) saves you time in wondering what to put down on paper and b) means I have the opportunity to interrogate you further for additional answers and capture some juicy quotes to use. Quotes/testimonials always help to break up the pace, add interest and add trust/reassurance.
Why open-ended interview questions are so important
Closed-ended questions are ones that elicit a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response, such as ‘Was your client satisfied’ instead of an open-ended question that prompts elaboration. For instance, “Tell me in what way your client was satisfied..?” or “Can you tell me about…?”, “What were your objectives for…?”, ‘What do you think about…?”
I always have a load of these up my sleeve when interviewing just in case we hit a virtual cul-de-sac.
And why a bit of limbering up also matters
As with most things in life, you need to warm up the respondent first and make them feel at ease. Whether it’s a good old ‘What’s the weather like where you are?’ or ‘Did you have a nice weekend?’ Building early rapport pays volumes.
Creating options for case study templates
There are lots of different ways you can style your subheads. From a friendly, chatting sounding:
Who we helped
How we did it
To the direct, no-nonsense approach of:
Or a third way is through engaging subheads that reflect the actual content and demonstrate benefits, such as with the case studies I wrote for Strategic Fit, a strategy consulting firm helping companies, joint ventures and stakeholders, specialising in the oil and gas industry. This was an area I knew nothing about, which was quite technically complex and therefore involved interviewing and interrogating the various consultants responsible.
Looking for a case studies copywriter?
With a client in Israel, a production company in Amsterdam and a shoot date in the UK in early January, arranging, writing and conducting telephone interviews with 30 MyHeritage subscribers (MyHeritage is an online genealogy tool) over the Christmas and New Year period, then providing recommendations was no easy feat.
At the shoot, I interviewed (off camera) to capture the desired responses as testimonials for six TV commercials for the UK market. And here’s what the production company said:
‘Caroline Gibson is a pleasure to work with. She is very flexible, and efficient. Our deadline was extremely tight and demanding but she kept me up to date at every stage of the project. I would highly recommend working with Caroline.’ Bianca Kamermans, AV Producer, Lukkien
Need help with interviews to be then written up as articles?
Working with Philosophy Design, I interviewed many Lend Lease stakeholders and also Ivan Harbour, of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, about his role as architect on the International Quarter. My task was to find out and articulate what makes the place so special and what makes buildings more than just buildings. And here’s what was said:
‘I found Caroline online, searching for creative, out-of-the-box copywriters with passion and soul. Caroline worked with Land Securities so I knew that she was good but I didn’t know how good until we appointed her on writing the copy for Lend Lease’s place campaign, commercial and residential marketing in Stratford. She asks the right questions, has a wonderful writing style and produces intelligent editorial. It makes you want to read the next paragraph. It literally jumps from the page and makes you smile. For 14 years we have struggled to find copywriters that can be an extension of our team. We don’t need to look anymore we have found a gem.’ Sara Woods, Partner, Philosophy Design
To find out how I can help turn your case studies into sales magnets and interviews into unputdownable copy, get in touch.
You may like to read my interview with Julia Gorrod, from ISBA, about what makes a client pitch successful.