How to Write Case Studies That Are Actually Good | Allan Maule | Skillshare
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How to Write Case Studies That Are Actually Good

teacher avatar Allan Maule, Digital Content Writer

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Intro: How to Write Case Studies

      1:27

    • 2.

      Class Project: Writing a Case Study That Is Actually Good

      1:09

    • 3.

      What Is a Case Study?

      5:40

    • 4.

      Writing Quick & Simple Case Studies

      6:06

    • 5.

      Why Case Studies Need Story

      5:59

    • 6.

      Adding Character to Case Study Stories

      6:17

    • 7.

      Adding Conflict to Case Study Stories

      7:43

    • 8.

      Adding Theme to Case Study Stories

      5:47

    • 9.

      How to Write a Case Study Without a Real Customer

      3:45

    • 10.

      Congratulations on Your Case Study!

      0:56

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About This Class

Case studies are the bread-and-butter of B2B content writing. Whether you work at a small agency or a Fortune 500 company, your organization uses case studies to show off your work to future customers.
Here’s the problem: Most case studies are not good. They’re forgettable at best and embarrassing at worst. Why? Because they don’t tell relevant, emotional, or meaningful stories. And as you compete to win the business of top clients, you can’t afford to write boring, forgettable case studies. You need to write case studies that are actually good.

My name is Allan Maule, and I’ve been a digital content writer for more than 12 years. I’ve written for brands like IBM, GE, Citrix, LinkedIn, Facebook, DuPont, Eaton, and MTV. One of my professional passions is writing exceptional case studies, and that’s why I built this class.

This course is for writers and marketers who want to take their case studies writing to the next level. We’ll look at storytelling methods like character, conflict, and theme to create case studies that your reader won’t soon forget. Together we’ll work on a case study for your business using these new methods, so by the end of the course you’ll have a case study draft that’s actually good—and ready for your client’s approval.

Meet Your Teacher

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Allan Maule

Digital Content Writer

Teacher

I am a digital content writer with more than 12 years of experience in interactive media, multi-channel content marketing, video games, and scriptwriting. I’ve written for Fortune 500 companies like IBM, GE, Facebook, Citrix, Viacom, LinkedIn, Eaton, and DuPont as well as Axiom Legal, Icarus Studios, Red Hat, Bank of Montreal, Selleration Games, and Lulu. I also led organizational and product branding efforts for Campbell University and MacGregor Partners, and am currently working on the brand for Raleigh City Gateway, an energy-positive building in North Carolina's capital.

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Level: Intermediate

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Transcripts

1. Intro: How to Write Case Studies: Case studies are the bread and butter of business-to-business content writing, whether you work at a Fortune 500 company or at a small agency, you use case studies to show off your work to prospective clients. Here's the problem. Most case studies are not good. They are forgettable at best and embarrassing at worst. Why? Because they don't tell relevant, emotional or meaningful stories. And as you compete to win the business of top clients, you can't afford to write boring, forgettable case studies. You need to write case studies that are actually good. My name is Alan Ball and I have been in digital content writer for more than 12 years. I've written for brands like Facebook, LinkedIn, Citrix and GE, and my professional passion is writing exceptional case studies. And that is why I built this class. This course is for writers and marketers who want to take their case study writing to the next level. We'll look at storytelling methods like character, conflict and even theme to create case study stories that your reader won't soon forget together will work on a case study for your business using all of these new methods. So by the end of this course, you'll have a case study draft that is actually good and ready for your client's approval. 2. Class Project: Writing a Case Study That Is Actually Good: As our class project in this course together, we're going to write a case study that is actually good in each lesson, you will complete a specific exercise that will end in a full fledged case study that you can use to market your products and services to your clients will begin by gathering examples of case studies that you admire. Then talk about how to tell a simple just the facts version of your story. Finally, each lesson towards the end is going to weave in advanced storytelling methods that are going to help you enrich your case study and make it truly unforgettable. I highly encourage you to write in real case study for this class that you want to use for your business. I don't like the idea of you writing some fictional exercise that will actually be of use to you. Instead, by applying the lessons of this class and directly into a case study you intend to publish on your website and market to your customers, you will have a case study that is not only teaching you something, but actually achieving the purpose you wanted to have, helping you win more business by proving the value of your work. 3. What Is a Case Study? : Hi, and welcome to Lesson one of how to write case studies that are actually good. Now, before we go into advanced storytelling techniques, I want to start with a basic understanding of what case studies are and what they actually do. Let's dive in to less than one. Less than one. What are case studies and what is their actual purpose? Now, if you ask this question, what are case studies actually, you will get many, many answers. Some people would say that case studies are parts of a company's history. You can look at the case study page and you will see what happened to the company over a number of years. Other people will say that case studies are a series of accomplishments. By visiting our case study section, you'll be able to see all the awesome things that our company did. And some people will make it even simpler than that. They'll say case studies are just a list of our previous and current customers. So if you want to know the kinds of companies that we do work for, case studies are where you go. I'm going to go deeper than all three of these answers. I will say that case studies are proof of your work. There was a real problem. Your company's work products or services were really effective in solving that problem and your real customer was satisfied with the solution. When you think about case studies this way, you understand why they're essential to marketing. If you ask your average customer how they feel about being marketed to, they'll probably tell you they're okay with it, but they don't love it. Now, companies understand that marketing is part of business. They're fine with you using persuasion to try to win their business. But customers also know that marketers often exaggerate and even stretched the truth. They're also keenly aware of how expert marketers can manipulate their emotions. So whenever a potential customer thinks that you're marketing to them, they're going to be on their guard and suspicious that you might be stretching the truth. This is why case studies are so important. There are essential because they show customers that your marketing can be backed up with proof. So that in mind, how do you prove something? Now if you're a student of classical rhetoric, you'll probably recognize this process in front of you here. Now, classic way of proving something is to establish a premise. You're saying there is something that I'd like to prove. You then make an argument using evidence to prove why what you are saying is trustworthy. You then provide a conclusion at the end, telling the listener what they should take out of what you just said. And then you invite your listener or your reader to see the proof for themselves so that way they can experience the very thing that you have just argued to them. So follow this process and you will have a solid case study. By focusing on proof, you can avoid classic case study errors. You want to include details that don't matter. You're not going to try to make assertions about how great your company is without providing evidence to back up your claims. Moreover, you will not bore the reader or forget to drive action at the end. You will always have an intention behind what you're doing. By focusing on proof, you're going to keep to the point no matter what happens. In other words, case studies are stories that prove you actually accomplish what your marketing promised. We'll get into this more later. But case studies proved like journalism. They don't prove like math. So with this introduction behind us, I'd like us to do an exercise. We're going to study a good case study and identify an infective case study and then take it apart a little bit and see how it works. So for this exercise, I want you to find a case study you like from a company you admire. Now it can be your own company's case study, but I think it's a little bit easier to be impartial if you just choose another organization and then take apart how their case study worked. So first, I want you to write down in one sentence what that case study is trying to prove. And then in another sense, Tell me what evidence does this case study provide in order to prove the premise they had in the previous question. So and by the end, I want you to tell me how did they conclude their case study and what action do they want you to take next? So with that done, it's time to evaluate the case study you were just looking at. So taking a step back, do you feel convinced by what the case study offered you? The argument makes sense? Is it clear? Does the evidence seemed trustworthy and do you feel like the action is clear and you know what they want you to do next. Second, were there any points that felt irrelevant or wasted In that case study? Were there moments in there that felt like, I'm not sure there's actually was pertinent to what they were talking about. And I think the case study would have been stronger if they had gotten to the point faster. Finally, at the end, do you want to find out more? Sure there might be a clear action at the end, but do you have any interest in actually contacting this company and wanting to learn more about their services. And on a more basic level, do you know how to find out more? Is there a clear call to action at the end of the case study that tells you what to do next. Now that we're on the same page about what a case study actually is. In the next lesson, we'll talk about how to write a short simple case study that has all of the essentials and none of the fluff. 4. Writing Quick & Simple Case Studies: Hey there and welcome to lesson two of how to write case studies that are actually good. Now that we have a shared understanding of what a case study actually is, it's time to write a simple, quick case study that has just the facts. Let's dive in. Alright, here's lesson to how to write basic case studies that are quick, simple, and actually good. There are countless case studies out there in a lot of industries and using countless formats. There are case studies that are long form that read like white papers or ebooks. There are also video case studies. They usually have interviews, B-roll footage of people working at the job site and some lovely music in the background, perhaps some 3D animation to accentuate certain points. And there are animated case studies that use all kinds of 3D images and moving graphics to tell a moving story of how great accompany is that way. So all of these types of case studies can work effectively, but they also can seem really complex and costly. Now if you're a smaller organization or an agency, you can look at all of these big, expensive case studies and ask yourself, do I really need one that's big, expensive and executed to this level of scale. That can cost you thousands of dollars to make case studies like those. The good news is, effective. Case studies do not require big budgets and time. Now, these big production case studies can be great. They show you your company takes its work seriously and that you have the resources to tell a sweeping and engaging story. But you also can run an effective case study on a simple landing page. This just proving what your company did. Now, let's take a closer look at the essentials of a case study. There was a problem for a real company. This real company chose our product or service in order to address that problem. We solve that problem for the real company. And here is quantifiable proof as shown by statistics showing that things got better. How would they improved? And now you can find out how we can solve similar problems for your company. That is the quick and dirty, simple case study. Now you might have noticed throughout all of this, real companies showed up a lot, inspiring the question, do I need real company names for my case study? Now, I would argue that using a real company name is vital. It's the, the most important thing that you can have in your case study. Why? Because recognition equals proof of success in the minds of your audience. If your customers have heard of the companies that you've done work for, they automatically assume that you are successful and trustworthy in their minds. Someone else that they've heard of already took a risk on you. So their company doesn't have to. So the natural question that comes up next is how do I get real company names for case studies? The first step is obvious. You do great work for real companies and be sure to document the work process as it happens so you can quantify how things improved after you applied your solution. So this is also important. Reach out for client consent to use their name before you start writing. I say this because getting legal approval from your customers to put their name on your case study can sometimes take time. They usually have to show it to multiple people inside the company and sometimes their legal representation. So reach out before you start writing. It's also important to tell the client that you will let them edit or suggest changes to the case study before you publish it. It's also nice to ask them if they want to add a quote in there. It just helps tell the story more effectively. So you might be wondering, what does this look like? Here's an example of a very basic case study from a company that I admire. So here you've got the title, Lazy Boy inspires engagement with cohesive omnichannel messages. Right there you have the name of the real company, what happened and how they served their needs. So here I'm not going to read the text of the entire thing, but you can see very prominently they have statistics proving the quality of the solution and how they helped. And then here you get into a little more detail of how they applied the solution and developed a strategy to serve the company. And at the end, a very clear CTA to learn more, please contact us with this case study. It's all easy to digest and read. And about a minute or two, anyone with a short attention span can easily read and comprehended. With that, we're going to get into the exercise for this lesson. We're going to write a short just the facts case study. When you write your just the facts case study, I want you to take the case studies story that you want to write for this class in one sentence, each and only one sentence right down. The problem that you're real company faced, the product or services that solve the problem. Proof that your solution works such as percentage improvement over time and what you want the reader to do next. Now that you've completed that, let's get into the evaluation phase. So how hard was it to write this simple case study? Did it take you a long time that you find yourself wondering how to answer several of the questions. Second, do you feel like your simple version of the story leaves to much out? Was it difficult to prove your point in only one sentence for each one of the sections that you wrote for. And most importantly, with your just the facts case study, can you read and understand the story you just wrote in five minutes or less? Now you know how to tell a simple case studies story that is just the facts. However, we'll know there's more to a great case study than simply what happened. In the next lesson, we're going to talk about story and why it's so important to telling a great case study. 5. Why Case Studies Need Story: Hey there and welcome to lesson three of how to write case studies that are actually good now that we know how to write simple, just the facts case studies, it's time to learn about story in case study writing and why story is so important. Lesson three, why story is crucial to case studies and how to write case studies as stories. So after the last lesson, you know how to write simple, just the facts, case studies, but if the simple case studies are all you need, why or most case studies, not short and simple. It's not because writers are paid by the word, it's because these longer case studies are stories, not just facts. Now, facts are important and they can be persuasive and effective, but they rarely move us emotionally and inspire us to act, stories can do all of this. So why are stories superior to just the facts when it comes to case studies? Simply, stories inspire us to act by moving our emotions. Statistics alone are enough to do that. When was the last time you saw some statistic that made you laugh or a number that moved you to tears? Now, your case studies might not be comical or tragic in the way you wrote them, but great advertising and great content marketing rarely relies only on numbers. This is because we remember details better in stories, not just Lisse. Stories can inspire your reader to feel and think using their hearts and their minds. Case study stories can do all of that. Another important thing about case studies as stories is stories can reveal contexts that make facts a lot more meaningful. Stories can show us who was involved and how they chose their solution, they also help us explore complex ideas and questions instead of just saying there was a problem and we fixed it. This is because stories have characters, conflict and resolution. In short, good case study stories engage your audience's emotions and their intellect, proving the value of your organization and your products and services on multiple levels. That's why when I write case studies, I treat them like business journalism. I am telling a fact based but emotionally engaging story. When I read case studies, I want them to do the following. Share customer history to show why that customer matters. I want to examine that customer's challenges in depth, to show what's at stake and why they had to solve the problem they were facing. I want to be specific and quantifiable about how the solution helps. This is when the statistics come in. You're showing how things improved once you applied the solution that your company is offering your customer. And at the end, I want to imply that the partnership between my organization and the customer that I'm writing about is ongoing into the future. I don't want to imply that we fix the problem and then walked away. I want to imply this inspired that customer to keep wanting to do business with us. So all that said, there is nothing wrong with the simple case studies we looked at in the previous lesson, these were great for people who don't like to read and are in a hurry. And this is also why I always provide an executive summary at the start of my case studies that provide a 60 second version of the story that someone can skim to get the value very quickly. However, I never expect those summaries to engage my readers emotions. Why? Because you can't engage a readers emotions with just the facts. You need to tell an effective story. So that in mind, let's start lesson three is exercise by adding the story to your simple case study. So take the simple just the facts version of the case study you begin and the previous lesson in a sentence or two describe the history of the company in the case. Study your writing. Why does that company matter? Why is their business important? Second, why was this company's problem a serious one? What was at stake for them? Why does it matter that they needed to solve this problem? So getting specific in the third point, how specifically did your product or service fix the problem that their customer was facing? What specific pain points in the problem did you address? And why are things better now? Use statistics, if possible, to show this. Finally, what does the future hold for the company you're writing about and yours working together? How is the partnership ongoing over time? With that, let's move on to the evaluation portion. Was it hard or easy for you to find and add these story details, getting specific about the problem, the history of the company and all of the things that went into implementing the solution? What felt left out from your simple just the facts case study in the previous lesson that you were able to add back in when you were adding these story details? Do you feel like these extra details make your case study story better, or is it just longer than it was before? Why do you feel that way with that ? You're beginning to see why story is so important to making case studies that are truly exceptional. In the next lesson, we're going to go deeper talking about how to add character to your case studies stories and make them even more memorable. 6. Adding Character to Case Study Stories: Welcome to lesson four of how to write case studies that are actually good, so now you've learned about the importance of storytelling in your case studies. So in this lesson, we're going to dig into character and how to write characters that will make your case studies unforgettable lesson for adding characters to case studies. How to focus on the people involved in your story. So when you were a child and you got a bedtime story, how many of your bedtime stories were about big organizations? Probably none, unless one of your parents was an attorney who was really into mergers and acquisitions law. So why is this? It's because from a young age, we learned that the best stories are about characters, not faceless groups. Why? Because unlike groups, characters have feelings just like us. They have worries. They get excited. They get afraid of things. Characters also have dreams like us. They look forward to financial success. They want to be influential. They want to be happy. And characters have shortcomings to overcome. Just like us, they don't know everything and they only have limited time to work or don't have all the resources they need to make things easy for them. In short, we relate to characters because they're like us. We can relate to them emotionally in a way that we don't relate to an organization of many people. This means that your case studies, stories should include characters, and because our case studies are true, these characters are real people. So this means you should always make your case study stories into human focus stories, and that means that including real people is not off topic. This is because an organization's challenges are never just business issues. They always affect the work experience, the lives and the feelings of real people. If you fail to mention any of the humans involved in a story, you can leave that case study feeling shallow and emotionless. These human details might feel like a waste of space, but those elements are exactly what your readers are most going to relate to. By including these real people, you're walking the path to empathizing with your reader, empathizing with your customer. This adds empathy to the proof of your case study, getting back to that idea of engaging your customers emotions as well as just their intellect. So how do you include real people in your case? Studies, stories at every step in the story always ask who was involved and how. In addition, find out how those people felt about the problem and the solution in your story. At every moment in the story, when you ask yourself who was involved? Also ask yourself, how did they feel about what was going on? And the best way to find out this information is through interviews. This also can help you include quotes whenever possible in your case study that helps make it feel like a real involved story and not just a summarized narration. And when you do this, don't forget to feature your team's help as well. Include your experts names and faces. This is especially important if you're a services based company, your reader might want to work with the very same people they're reading about in your case studies story. So here is a glimpse of what this looks like, use photography to feature your real characters. Readers love to have faces that go with names and have a quote that goes with the person whenever you do this. Be sure to use an experienced photographer. So your images look high resolution and high quality, if not simple. Headshots with quotes can also do the job. As always, be sure to get approval from whomever's image and quote, you're going to feature an offer to help them with writing the quote or getting the pictures that you need. It's time for our exercise in this one, we're going to take the existing case study that you're working on and add characters to it by featuring the real people involved. So in each section of your case study story, I want you to describe who was involved here and how are they involved. Once you've got that, I want you to tell me, how did those real people describe their feelings at each moment in the story? What words did they use to describe the problem they were facing and how they felt about the solution you applied? If they didn't describe their feelings in any of these moments, how do you think they felt? You will want to verify this before you publish it? Now, once you have those feelings, ask yourself, do they align with the facts of the story that you had in the previous just the facts version, does anything stand out as not aligning with those facts? Why or why not? Once you wrap that up, it's time to move on to the evaluation portion of the exercise. So first of all, it's OK if any of these steps weren't easy or if you still have questions about adding the story. Second, does it seem natural to include these real people and their feelings and the story that you're telling if it doesn't feel natural? Tell me why not? Do the details of these real characters seem missing if you do have any blank spots there, how can you find out the answers to these lingering questions? Do you see your future customers relating to the characters that you featured in the story? If not, why now you're beginning to create a case study story that has characters that really bring it to life in the next lesson, we're going to continue in this storytelling vein talking about how enhancing the conflict in your case studies story can make the story that much more engaging to your audience. 7. Adding Conflict to Case Study Stories: It's time for lesson five of how to write case studies that are actually good. You've learned about the importance of story and you've learned about how much characters can bring to that story. It's time to take your case studies story, and add conflicts, or it becomes something that you can't tear your eyes away from. Lesson five. How to add conflict to your case studies and be honest about challenges in your True Story. Conflict is the cement of a good story. There is a protagonist, he or she wants something, but opposing forces get in the way. Conflict ties the characters and actions of your story together to keep your audience's attention. Now the thing about conflict is that it's most exciting and enjoyable when it's not real, conflict is exciting and engaging. We're watching it happen in sports or in movies. In real life, conflict is uncomfortable. We take this person or this organization that we like and admire and then we put them through all kinds of hardship and struggle. It leads to the question, why do we have to watch a real person or a real organization go through hardship? So there are two answers to this. A marketing answer in a story answer, conflict is needed in your case studies from marketing purposes because customers with no problems do not need to buy your solutions. From a story point of view, conflict is essential because stories without conflict or boring an unbelievable. So I'll give you an example from one of my favorite films. I love the movie Mad Max Fury Road. But can you imagine Mad Max Fury Road with all of the conflict, removed? The logline for the movie might read a little bit like this. A scruffy stunt driver and a one-armed feminist, take a family of models on a long joy ride in the desert. No one gets sunburned, no-one gets run over, and then they all go home and they play in the sprinkler. If you saw a movie like that, you would demand your money back. Why? Because that story is neither interesting nor inspiring. Conflict is important because no one wants to watch a hero at the height of his or her powers when an easy victory. We relate to conflict because we all face challenges. We are drawn to vulnerability, to struggle, and to overcoming hardship. Conflict is not negative. It's good storytelling. This is because a highly successful people and businesses still face problems. And even when things are going well in our careers or with our business, we still aspire to improve and to grow. All of us face hardship. And so we want stories about facing hardship head on and overcoming it. That is why conflict is so important to ineffective case studies story. So many people would wonder, is including all this conflict being too negative. After all, no one wants to be marketed to you with a bunch of negative messages. My simple answer to this is conflict is two negative only if you never solve the problem that you're talking about. You want to make sure that whatever solution you discuss in your case study meets the scope of the problem. As long as you can solve whatever hardship Your Organization and individuals are facing your good, just don't bring up a problem that you never ever address with the solution. So this means that your case studies need to be honest about conflict. The most obvious place to do this is when you describe the challenges that an organization faces, share why that company's problems really mattered. Why were they important? And the place that conflict most often gets left out of a case study stories in the implementation section of the story, the part where you describe how your solution was rolled out. I say this because anyone who's spent any time in business IT or what have you knows that implementation is never as simple flip of a switch. That in mind, do not gloss over the pain points of implementing your solution. Even if your solution was easy to install, you still had to train your customer to use it effectively. Now, I don't mean that you need to include angry, slack transcripts of conversations between your IT teams, trying to figure out the solution works and having this understandings. What I do mean is that you need to describe the onboarding process with honesty and detail. What needed to get replaced, How long did it take if issues arose during implementation, how did you deal with them? It's also very important to mention if anything surprising happened during implementation. Talk about the surprises in the setbacks. If someone important left the company during the middle of it, how did that change the story? By including details about the conflict in your story, you're showing your readers that your company not only understands the complexity of implementation, but also knows how to be agile and adjust to changing circumstances. So a great way to show this is by including quotes that allow the individuals in your story to talk about things honestly. This is a quote from one of my favorite case studies I ever worked on. What I love about this quote is that the Irish sailor was being incredibly honest about how it felt to use the old technology and how happy it made him to have technology that actually work to meet his needs. Let's go into the exercise for this lesson. I want you to take your existing case study draft and add conflict to that story by digging into the challenges. So look at the solution implementation section of your case story. I want you to describe one who was involved here, both on your team and the client. And how tell me how long the onboarding and implementation process took. Then talk about what your solution replaced. What was it about the old technology that needed to be replaced? Wasn't an easy or was it a tough transition? What difficulties are set backs did you encounter during implementation? Most importantly, how did you and your customer overcome those challenges? Finally, what lessons did you learn during implementation that's going to make the process simpler the next time you go through it. Time to evaluate. How hard was it for you to name the challenges of implementation in your case study? Did you find easy examples of how well you and your customers teams work together? Or was it more challenging to do so? Three, can you see your future customers relating to these challenges? Do you feel like you've spoken to something universal in the conflict that you've discussed. Finally, do you feel like being honest about these challenges in your case study makes the story better. If it doesn't, can you think of a way to make the story more compelling by being more positive and inspirational in the way that you solve these challenges. Now you have a case study story that has rich in character and full of exciting conflict to engage your audience. In the next lesson, we're going to take the storytelling deeper. Talking about how you can add elements of theme to your case study to really make sure your big idea is resonating with your reader. 8. Adding Theme to Case Study Stories: Welcome to lesson six of how to write case studies that are actually good. Now we've talked about storytelling in your case studies and all of the value that character and conflict can bring to that story. In this lesson, we're going to talk about theme and how the big idea of theme can really make your case story resonate in your reader's imagination. Lesson six, adding theme to your case studies to show the deeper meaning of your story. Now the first question in your mind is probably, what exactly is he talking about when he's talking about theme? The simplest way to explain it as theme is the big idea behind the story you're telling. It's more than just a key takeaway and more than just a call to action. Your theme should engage with a complex question, with a tough choice, and show an intelligent, smart perspective. That's your goal here. I say this because too often case studies read like childish parables instead of serious business communication, you sign off. It'll simple moral like design is more than pictures or leadership matters, or even the really blunt force. And that's why you need end-to-end data security. Now, none of these sorts sentences are wrong, but they're also not very helpful. They're not interesting or memorable. The best-case scenario, if you end with one of those sine ofs, is then your audience shrubs and says, I guess so the worst-case, they roll their eyes and they feel condescended to neither of these outcomes are good for engaging your customer. The big idea here is, theme is not where you teach a lesson. Theme is showing your reader you understand the big picture. Now, one way to understand this is business success is often about tough choices. And these tough choices are rarely right or wrong. It's usually the best of a lot of really imperfect options. These decisions mean you have to balance costs, speed, simplicity, company culture, and all of a bunch of other factors to make the best possible choice out of a lot of options. The best choice is never simple. So you shouldn't tell stories that are simplistic. For example, say you're writing a case study about cybersecurity. Real company needs to protect sensitive data without slowing down productivity. The big idea here is not you need good security. Instead, I want you to ask a more meaningful question. What's the Tough Choice this company has to make involving cybersecurity. And with security questions, the big tough choice is usually freedom versus control. Most people know that you can secure your business by forcing employers to change their passwords every day, never carrying personal smartphones and authenticating every single email and communication they send. That's the axis of control. However, this control freak approach severely limits employee freedom and choice over how they work. Your employees will not feel free to make the best decisions. They instead will feel really frustrated at your draconian security policies that they won't be able to focus on their jobs. You show understanding for this control versus freedom question by talking about both sides of the cybersecurity issue. Now, this is definitely more complex than saying security good, breaches bad. But the complexity is the point. You were showing you, your customer that you understand the tough choices they have to make. You want to show them that you get the tensions and compromises. They have to deal with the trade offs and implications of those decisions. Your customers business is complex, so treat it with the kind of respect that it deserves. Show your reader respect by engaging with their uncertainty, with the complexity there facing. After all, your reader is your future partner. He's not just a dollar sign, it's going to show up in your accounts receivable. Theme is a very important way you do that. Show that you understand the tough choices. Let's get into an exercise for how you can add theme to your story by digging into its big ideas. So look at the draft of your ongoing case studies story. Tell me what is the big idea of your case study? It's okay if you have multiple versions of his answer. Was there a tough choice that your customer had to make? Why was that choice difficult? How will that Tough Choice shape your customers future in your story? How do you show that your company understands this tough choice throughout your case study? It's time for the evaluation portion. First, does your big ideas seem meaningful, or is it simplistic and generic? How does your big ideas show up throughout your case study? Can you see future customers relating to the tough choice that your customer had to make and the big idea of your story. Finally, do you feel like your case studies shows how well your company understands these tough choices and big ideas. Why or why not? Now that we've created a case study story that is full of interesting characters, engage in conflict and a resonant theme. We're going to back up and ask on a more essential question. Can you write an effective case study if you don't have a real customer. In the next lesson, you're going to find out the answer. 9. How to Write a Case Study Without a Real Customer: Welcome to the final lesson of how to write case studies that are actually good. This is a bit of a supplemental lesson for startups and new businesses that are rolling out a new product that doesn't have real customers yet. So this lesson will tell you how to write a case study story when you don't have a real customer story to fall back on. Let's dive in lesson seven. Case studies without customers or how to tell a case study story that hasn't actually happened yet. By now you have a lot of storytelling tools at your disposal to write great case studies, stories that will engage the hearts and minds of future customers. But what if you're a startup or launching a new product or service that hasn't had real customers yet. Can you write a case study for a new product or service that no one has used yet. In short, the answer is no. However, you can still tell an effective story about how your solution works. I'd like to introduce you to the scenario case study. This uses storytelling elements like characters, conflict, and theme without having a real customer at the center. A scenario case studies shows potential customers how a new product or service solves a real problem before that new product or service has actually done so. Now, because you will not have hard proof or statistics for how your solution is already helped someone, you're going to have to make sure the story is extra compelling here. So how do you write a scenario case study? First, picture, the kind of company you want to work with. What is this company's history and what are their goals? What kinds of problems does this company face? Why do you admire this company and why do you want to do business with them? Next, outline how your solution would address the specific needs of this company. How does your solution fit their unique problems? Why would your organization and your solution be superior to whatever technology or solution that company is already using? And how would you ensure a successful implementation using your solution? Third, you need to lean into telling a compelling story. I want you to make sure you empathize with your scenario characters. There's no need for fake quotations, but be really honest about the conflict that they're facing. Make it real. Show the kinds of companies you want to reach the, you really understand what's at stake and the sorts of difficulties they're facing and solving their problems by being clear about the tough choices and what's at stake in your theme, you can show them why your solution is going to be great for solving their problems. What kinds of benefits, what a real companies see from your solution? If you have any quantifiable predictions that you've shown through studies that you've done or experiments or tests, this is a good time to include those. Scenario case studies can be very effective in marketing your solutions as long as you commit to telling a good relevant story, Use the same kinds of storytelling techniques we've learned throughout this course. Also, be sure to deploy the same kinds of high-end design and stylistic resources that you would for a true case study. Use good photography. Use good design. Makes sure that the end product of your scenario case study looks and reads as well as it would if it was a true case study. You're showing you're committed to your product by showing commitment in marketing. 10. Congratulations on Your Case Study!: Congratulations on completing a case study story that is actually good over the course of this class. You've learned how to weave in interesting characters engaging in conflict and a resonant theme to tell a case study story that is truly effective. I hope that the story you created in this cause is going to be powerful proof of your products and services and how great they will be for all your future customers. If you're willing, please share the project that you worked on in this class. I'd love to be able to see the case study that you created using the lessons that we went over in this course. Finally, if you're willing, please leave a review and let me know the things about the course that especially Lyft and other elements that you think I should improve on as an instructor. It means a lot to me that you took the time to go through this class. So thank you for spending this time with me. And I look forward to reading your writing.