The Secret to Writing a Memorable (and Motivating) Case Study
Recently, I’ve been writing a number of case studies for one of my clients. This client is a business coach who delivers high quality, personalized training programs to new and established freelance writers.
As with many entrepreneurs, he’s been so busy building his business and putting together his team that he hasn’t had time to create many case studies. But now he’s getting caught up, and I’m happy to write them for him.
This got me thinking about what separates an adequate case study from memorable and motivating case study.
I’ve written before about how to write a good case study. In that post, I detail the structure that most case studies follow.
But within that established structure, there’s one important element that sometimes gets overlooked: emotion.
Injecting Emotion Into Your Case Study
Good case studies tell a story. They take the reader on the following journey:
- The challenge
- The customer
- The journey
- The discovery
- The solution
- The implementation
- The results.
The most powerful stories take readers on an emotional journey. When you can relate to what the person at the centre of the case study felt and experienced, those stories are more likely to motivate you.
The lesson for writers is to dig into these emotional elements when you conduct your interview. Don’t just ask what happened. Ask how the person was personally impacted by what happened. How did he/she feel?
The more you can paint the journey in terms of feelings or personal impact, the more compelling your story will be.
In fact, you could argue that it’s all part of the hero’s journey.
Questions to Uncover Emotional Elements
What specifically should you ask to uncover these emotional elements? You might ask:
- “What challenges were you facing?”
- “What was the impact of these challenges on your business?”
- “How were these challenges impacting you personally?”
These questions can deliver powerful quotes (e.g. “I was losing sleep at night!” or “My business was stuck—and I couldn’t figure out how to move forward!”).
You should also ask similar questions to uncover the impact of your product or service resolving the customer’s challenge, such as:
- “How did these results impact your business?”
- “How did these results impact other aspects of your life?”
- “How did they impact you personally?”
- “What did they enable you to do?”
- “Why are these results important to you?”
A Good Case Study Uses Logic and Emotion
Quantifiable challenges and results appeal to the logical part of our brains.
But un-measurable, emotional elements—such as how people felt or how they were impacted personally—are what will make your case study memorable and motivating.