BD tips and insights

By Alice Vuong

Case studies: the ‘so what?’ test

April 23, 2014 | Posted in: Tenders Bids Proposals | Tags: ,

Case studies have become a common way for firms to evidence their expertise in tenders, capabilities documents, directories, blog posts and on their websites. But before you launch into writing up your next case study, pause for a moment and think about how you can make it a compelling and stand-out case for your audience. It needs to pass the ‘so what?’ test.

In our experience, many case studies are poorly expressed or just plain uninteresting, and tend to focus on small details rather than explaining the big picture. To make your story more powerful, persuasive, and give you some “cut through”, clearly explain the issues you faced, the approach you took, and the outcomes you achieved.

Then ask yourself, ‘so what?’. And is your audience going to be asking the same question when they read your case study? If you haven’t made a convincing case, maybe you haven’t approached your case study the right way. See if it addresses the questions below.

Issues

  • Describe the client – what is their business, and what do they do? What are their key decision makers and success factors?
  • What was the situation they faced prior to calling on your assistance?
  • What was at stake?
  • How significant was this situation for their business?
  • How frequently do they face this situation?

Approach

  • How did your work and approach differ from what they’d done before?
  • Why did you choose to approach the matter this way?
  • Why did the client choose you for this work?

Outcomes

  • What immediate business problem did you solve?
  • What wider business issues did you help them navigate?
  • What would it have cost them not to have resolved the situation and/or achieved it this way?
  • What were the quantitative impacts of your work: money, time, other measurable outcomes?
  • What were the qualitative benefits you achieved: the things not so easily measured, but possibly as or more important?

Some more food for thought

  • What key messages do you want to deliver with this case study?
  • What competencies, knowledge, and capabilities do you want to evidence?
  • Who is available to confirm the case study and what was their role in the matter?
  • Asking yourself ‘so what?’ and focusing on these questions will help you write a much more compelling case study.

For more writings tips and advice on tenders, bids and proposals, please get in touch.

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