Crafting the perfect case study
This has to be seen as a very different beast to the project write-up, which companies commonly feature somewhere on their website, for client name dropping and showing off the finished work. This won’t hit the mark as a killer case study.
The first piece of advice is you must always remember why you’re investing all this time in writing a case study – it’s about generating opportunities with the next prospect, and its role is to prove the impact of the work that you have just had so beautifully photographed.
You should look beyond simply reporting on what you made, but instead find ways to articulate the value of the outcomes. If your work has been effective this can be no better communicated than through the satisfied words of the client. No matter how good you are at selling yourself, your message will never be as compelling as that from the mouth of the person who owns the final result!
Hearing genuine human benefits makes customers ‘feel’ what lies at the heart of engaging your design service – you’re no longer merely selling something, you’re making a promise. Now the customer is emotionally connected to you and can hold you accountable (and it’s this accountability that gives them a sense of security at the outset of their buying journey).
Story telling generates leads
We all like a story, and there’s a generally accepted convention for story composition; a beginning, a middle and an end. Your case study should follow this format.
Firstly, establish an introductory back-story – setting out the context and the problem if one existed. The middle – the fundamental ideas, processes employed and the solution you arrived at. Finally, tangible outcomes and meaningful results of the project.
Just to be clear, process is important in framing your approach to a project, but ultimately people don’t buy processes, even when they offer reassurance – people buy promises.
The purpose of your well-written, process-framed case study is to win new business not to indulge in self-congratulation.
Dare to differentiate yourself
When you tell me your new design will help increase the value of my home, that’s fantastic news… just what I want, except that’s exactly what every other designer is likely to be telling me.
It can help to shift your focus from a product-led perspective to adopting the customer’s position when writing a case study. This will help you unearth the gems from within projects that will be most striking and stand out as different. Remember it should always be predicated on the solution.
People don’t want quarter-inch drills, they want quarter-inch holes – so highlight your unique holes.
Understanding as well as inspiration
We find that selling “design” per se rarely works. It can be just too vague to make anyone feel confident when embarking on the search for a professional partner, especially one that comes with a significant price tag.
Design is an aesthetic practice, but it cannot operate through visual means alone. Showing photographic examples of your most attractive work belies the principles behind it. Without an explanation of how these outcomes have been reached, a portfolio of imagery is merely an index of taste or style. By all means incorporate stunning photography with your text but think about how words support the ‘eye candy’ that readers are receiving.
Light a clear path
The end of your case study is in fact only the start of what will hopefully be a long-term dialogue so think about your ‘call to action’ (CTA). Make sure you include words that unequivocally invite the reader to follow through with you directly to discuss working together; offer them quick ways of arranging a meeting or getting in touch about a project.
In summary, the most engaging interior design case studies have 4 key components:
✓ They are usually 500+ words with an editorial focus on the impact of your studio’s work.
✓ They contain at least one carefully selected client testimonial.
✓ They include an easily scanned list of related services. We don’t want to link other case studies here, although tempting! – we want our prospects to transition from research mode to understanding how our business works without getting caught in a content cul-de-sac.
✓ They have a buyer-friendly call to action – make it easy to take the next step.