A case study is in-depth research into a real-life problem and the solutions used. Utilized in the fields of academia, business, or healthcare, it can be done on one person, a group, or even an organization.
This subcategory of research provides intricate details about a study group that other research methods don’t. This is because it relies on multiple sources of evidence, such as interviews, observations, and documents, to help understand a phenomenon beyond the theoretical point.
But crafting a compelling case study can be a challenge. There’s a risk of one coming out as thin, without any relevant solution to or details on the subject.
The guide below will delve into the essential steps for creating a convincing, potent study. To supplement the knowledge to be gained in this blog, you can also find more information about how to conduct a case study here.
1. Decide on goals and story
The first step in crafting a case study is defining your goals and creating a plan. For example, you need to know what story you will tell, the angles to use, the metrics to measure, and the people involved.
The metrics you set for your goal should be tangible and serve as a proof of concept. For example, your goal and story should show tangible and realistic achievements if you’re writing a business case study. Instead of saying that ‘revenue increased,’ say that ‘revenue increased by 20% in 2023.’
The best way to come up with the right objectives is to start with a problem you want to solve and determine the location of your study and the specific circumstance you’ll focus on.
2. Select the right subject
Another crucial aspect of a successful case study is choosing the right subject. This can be a project or a client.
Some of the factors to consider when choosing a subject include:
- Relevance: A subject should be relevant to the services you offer, your research, or the problems your target audience is facing. This will help them relate to the study.
- Knowledge: The candidate you choose to feature in your case study should have knowledge of your product, service, or area of study. This means they can speak better of the value you provide to make it relatable to future prospects.
- Recognizable names: A good case study should be credible. You can achieve this by featuring widely known brands and institutions. Consumers prefer familiar brands when buying products. So, having them in your case study is likely to push your story further to the target audience.
- Switchers: Customers who switch from a competitor to your brand highlight your competitive advantage. They can compel your target audience to also choose your offerings.
However, before finding or writing about a subject, you should first ask for permission. They should also be willing to take part rather than feel forced to.
3. Gather necessary data
Once you have the right subject, the next step is to gather all the necessary data. You can choose an interview mode depending on your research subject and question.
The common interview methods in a case study are structured, semi-structured, and unstructured. A structured interview follows a set of predefined questions, while an unstructured one offers more flexibility.
Moreover, you can choose between different interview modes such as email, phone calls, surveys, or face-to-face. A face-to-face interview is an excellent choice as it allows you to observe and get emotion-proving insights that can’t be achieved with other modes.
When conducting surveys and interviews, ensure you ask the right questions. Let the subject tell their story through open-ended questions, as they offer more flexibility compared to using closed-ended questions.
4. Tell the story
After gathering data, it’s time to tell the story from start to finish. Storytelling is a significant part of the case study as it gives your target audience something they can relate to. Ideally, it mentions your customer as the hero in the case study. Talk about the problems they were facing and how your product or service solved the issues.
Avoid making the story look dramatic or like a sales pitch. Ensure that it’s a simple narrative about the customer and your offering. Additionally, include the facts and statistics. The more numbers you can include in your story, the more credible it will be.
For example, show evidence of an increase in traffic to a customer’s site if you’re offering digital marketing services or how a medical intervention led to a drop in asthma attacks if you’re a healthcare research center.
5. Format your case study
Finally, your case study should be well formatted to ensure your audience can easily read it. No matter how insightful it is, no one will be interested in going through it if it uses complicated language. Therefore, write it using clean and simple language that anybody can read and understand.
A rule of thumb is to include infographics, screenshots, graphs, charts, and images where possible. This will help break walls of text, making it easy to understand and follow the case study.
Here’s an example of a case study format:
- Executive summary: This section presents a synopsis of the field you’re researching and explains what you’ll examine in the study. Create a thesis statement and briefly sum up the observation results.
- Background information: Provide background information, lay out the most pertinent facts, and isolate the issues.
- Case evaluation: Here, you isolate the sections you want to talk about. You can use it to discuss why something is working or not.
- Proposed solutions: You should offer realistic solutions on how you can solve what isn’t working or improve its current state. Include testable evidence in this section.
- Conclusion: Outline the essential points of the case evaluation and proposed solutions.
- Recommendations: Discuss the strategy you should select and justify why it’s the most suitable choice.
- Implementation: Elucidate how you’ll implement the chosen strategies.
- References: List down all the citations.
You can also include future plans and a call to action depending on what you want readers to do. But generally, it should center on highlighting challenges and solutions.
A case study provides an in-depth, multifaceted, and evidence-based approach to examining and understanding real-life situations. It can be used by healthcare and academic organizations or as a sales tool in business.
But the true power of a case study lies in creating a compelling story. Use the insights from the above discussion to create one.