Complete Guide on How to Write a Case Study
The case method was invented at Harvard in 1924, the Business Case name comes from the Latin language, from the concept of “casus” - “an incomprehensible and strange situation’. The students discussed case studies during the course of study so that starting work activities one could use already prepared patterns of behavior. There are two activities related to case studies both in the academic and business world — writing case studies and solving them. Both tasks are challenging no matter if you need to solve a case study for your Business class, pass a job interview or present a marketing case to impress potential clients or investors. Here, you can find guidelines on how to write and solve case studies. Naturally, not all of these tips will be applicable to your situation, so choose the most relevant ones.
Writing Case Studies from Scratch
Write a case if you can tell about the following points:
- Non-standard solution of a common problem.
- Steep results from a specific source or tool. You have a bonus if this tool is new, few people have used it or it is underestimated.
- Stable good results of the project — especially in non-ordinary or highly competitive topics.
- The standards that you hold in your work are often neglected by other market players.
Writing cases from scratch can be your assignment in university or a way to promote your company, your project, etc. No matter what your goal is, the basic rules are similar. Choose the ones which are the most applicable to your case in particular. Here, we will talk about how to create a stellar marketing case. Use it as an example of a case study you need to create.
Usually cases are written according to the scheme:
Description of the situation → Demonstration of the problem → Process of solving the problem → Result (in significant figures) → Happy end (review of a happy client or a summary of how wonderful everything is) or Horrible consequences (negative cases are even more popular than those with happy endings).
Speaking about size, cases can be either short (literally 1-1.5 thousand characters) to fit them into the general structure of the selling page or advertising brochure, or long (long reads, 7-10 thousand characters) giving maximum information.
Here are some characteristics of stellar case studies
- There are numbers/facts/performance indicators in the case study. There are NO common uncorroborated phrases like "the situation has improved markedly," "they did it all."
- Case language is clear and easily understood by the target audience If you use professional terms that can be unfamiliar to the audience to demonstrate effectiveness, then either replace them with understandable ones or transcribe them.
- For example, writing a study about contextual advertising, avoid using the ROI indicator (although specialists often consider it). Imagine your audience as a businessman who is not obliged to understand these terms. Instead of ROI, show the total cost of each effective click and the amount of the average sales receipt.
- A “self-explanatory” heading is involved in the case. We recommend 2 types of headers for cases:
Headers that contain the problem. So that the reader can associate his problem with the one described in your case:
“How did we promote a website with a limited budget?” - it will be interesting for novice businessmen with limited funds
“How to get an elite studio from a typical condo?” - about apartment renovation, it will be interesting for owners of condos and designers.
Headers that contain the result. And the result should be meaningful in order to find out how to achieve this:
"9% less bounce" — copywriting case
"Dream apartment in 2 months" — again, about the repair
- Case is “decorated” Even if you have a good, informative case, it may not work if it is poorly designed. Here are some universal recommendations:
- Use clear, readable fonts,
- Add pictures BEFORE and AFTER (if relevant),
- Visually highlight results,
- Make correct quotations
Tell the truth. If you are writing a case study for your college or university project, you will most probably use open sources. Make sure to mention as many references as you can, otherwise your case study will look artificial. Don’t lie, don’t add some facts you are not sure about and don’t exaggerate. The same is accurate when it comes to writing marketing and other case studies describing a real business situation. Many readers are skeptical about cases without specifying a brand where it is impossible to verify the accuracy of this information. In such circumstances, a significant role is played by the reputation of the specialist or the company he or she represents. But the flow itself is important: if you write is mediocre phrases, without details and logical chains, it is quite natural that observational readers will question your sincerity and honesty.
Solving Case Studies
Solving case studies is one of the most popular assignment students receive nowadays. There are technical, medical, business, marketing, history, and other case studies to solve. The method of business cases is also correctly applied during training and the examination of the knowledge of future employees during an interview with them. The candidate is offered to solve a specific problem situation in which the enterprise resides, either the employee or pose to him questions that need to be reviewed and to make accurate decisions. More information about the goals and methods of solving cases in college, university or during a job interview will be discussed further in this article.
Identify the Problem and the Task of the Case
70% of the success of a case solution is to determine the case task and the company's problem accurately. And everyone thinks that this is the easiest part and everyone knows how to do it. This is not so, because the case is like life. In life, everyone wants happiness, and in business - profits. What happiness is and how to achieve it is not clear. The same situation is with profit. To describe the task of the case, that is, to determine what is important right now to achieve profit is a difficult task. The more (but within the framework of the case) the task can be determined, the better.
- Very broad -to increase profits
- Still broad - to increase sales in the b2b segment
- Accurate - to increase the efficiency of the sales department
- More accurate - to choose ineffective employees and decide to fire them + to develop measures to increase the average level of sales managers.
It is necessary to find in the case what is being specifically asked. And to answer this question accurately. Accordingly, the first time to read the case should be only to understand what is being asked and what is the problem in the company. The problem is the very thing that creates the task. It is not always possible to find a problem from the very beginning, sometimes you lack information to do it.
Usually, all the information necessary for the solution is in the case, if the case is written properly. If not, look for more information in the sources provided by your professor or online, ask questions if you are interviewed. Remember! You can not start collecting information before you decide on tasks.
When it is clear what is being asked (the task) and what the problem is and what generally happens — start brainstorming.
Find the Best Solution and Prove that It Is the Best
A business case solution is a specific format that implies specific rules. Often this is not associated with real business skills. Like in sports. The fact that you are good at running 100 meters does not mean that you will be able to resist the punks. Similarly, in cases, there are rules that determine that when solving cases it is necessary to give a proven solution and prove that it is the best. Just "throw cool ideas" - does not fit!
When solving mathematical problems, it is essential not only to find the answer but also to prove that this is the only or best answer. If one asks how to get from point A to point B in the fastest way, one must not only find the maximum number of paths but find the best one and prove that it is the best.
You should stick your decision in several paragraphs or slides, structure the whole thing and more of it, present it in understandable language so that even a twelve-year-old child can understand it. In the decision you briefly describe the most important sections:
- the information you have about the situation (what is happening/has happened);
- the problem (what is the problem);
- task (what is asked, what are you trying to solve);
- decision/the best solution.
Writing only a solution is a huge mistake. You should present the situation once again, show that you've understood the task correctly and only then present a solution. It won't harm if you present the limitations of the solutions and how you offer to overcome or compensate them.