In a case study, you’re telling a story

The three-act structure will be familiar to anyone who’s done a creative or dramatic writing course, but in summary, it’s one of the classic models used in storytelling. You’ll recognise it in a whole range of movies. In the first act, we meet the characters, problems start to occur, and something happens which will be resolved at the end. In the second act, the hero attempts to solve the problems but usually cannot, without some sort of character development which we see as the story unfolds. In the final act, everything gets sorted out, usually after a chase. Although I may have added that last bit myself.

So where are we going with this? Well, it’s a tried and tested formula which can be applied to a lot of marketing writing, especially case studies. In the first act, we meet the customer, and discover the situation which was eventually resolved by your product or service. In the second act, we look at the various solutions which were considered, and perhaps even tried. And in the final act, your product or service arrives to save the day, with even more benefits than were originally considered.

Screenwriters will also stress the importance of having a “hero”, and you might immediately think that the hero of this story is your product. However, it’s important to consider who or what the audience might relate to; is it your product, or is it the client? It is, of course, the latter, and the best case studies don’t forget this. The heroic action is choosing your product, not what your product does to save the day.

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