Are Case Studies actually just business stories?

(What follows is the outline I wrote in advance of recording the video. They’re my talking points. Not a regular post or article. Just an outline.)

This question came from Natalie, who has taken my course on Selling with Stories.

Hers is a very brief and simple question.

“Are Case Studies actually just business stories?”

I’m glad she asked this because I don’t think I talk about Case Studies in the course. Or if I do, I give them just a passing mention.

First, let’s define a Case Study.

A Case Study is essentially a business success story.

So yes, case studies are stories.

But not every business story is a case study.

Case studies been a round forever. Typically anywhere between 2 and 20 pages in length, they are used by companies as a sales tool – describing how their products or services have helped their customers or clients.

Their structure is usually similar to a simple story structure. Something like…

  • Set up the situation
  • Describe the challenge
  • Present the solution
  • Share the outcome

So yes, you have the potential for a good story.


The danger lies in this becoming a cookie-cutter process… where every case study feels and sounds the same.

Like… blah blah blah followed by a happy ending. (Case Studies always have a happy ending.)

When that happens, it’s snooze time.

So here’s my advice with Case Studies.

Follow another of the principles of selling with stories I have talked about before…

Thrown in something unexpected.

Wake up the reader.

Perhaps by being disarmingly honest.

Like, “The first time we tried this it was a disaster. The widget broke within the first 3 minutes.”

Or by having the CEO of the featured company make a very human statement, like, “Frankly, I was terrified.”

So yes Natalie… a Case Study is like a story.

But a good Case Study has to be a good story. And a good story is never predictable or boring or devoid of emotion.

NOTE: If you’d like to use the power of storytelling to increase your skills as a web content writer, online copywriter or social media writer, learn more about my course… Selling With Stories…

Selling with Stories banner


Writing for the Web

If you found this post helpful, sign up for my e-newsletter and get a free copy of my 35-page guide…

Writing For The Web #1 — 7 Challenges every Writer and Copywriter faces when writing for the Web.

Sign up and I’ll send you the link for the download, and then you’ll receive my most recent post as part of my e-newsletter every Tuesday morning.

Sign Up for my Excess Voice Newsletter…


(Your email address will be used only for the purpose of sending you this newsletter, and you’ll be free to unsubscribe at any time.)

Share on Google+Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someonePin on Pinterest

Leave a Comment