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Definition

A case study is a pithy piece of writing containing facts and real life scenarios to substantiate the writer’s hypothesis. It can be defined as a report of an activity, event or problem that contains a real or theoretical situation and includes the complexities you would encounter in the organisation. Case studies are used to help you see how the intricacies of real life influence decisions. Within these various definitions of case study we can see that each definition has some points in common: such as it is a report, it could be hypothetical or real and borrows from real life scenarios to drive home the point. Merriam-Webster does not deviate from this definition.  It defines a case study as a published report about a person, group, or situation that has been studied over time; also: a situation in real life that can be looked at or studied to learn about something

Tip: Each definition highlights that a case study is a written report which could be hypothetical or real, and borrows from real life situation to drive home the point.

Purpose of a business case study

The purpose of a case study is to provide an exhaustive study of a scenario or “case” which will reveal interesting facts to the reader. Case studies are often an accompaniment to reports, to give substance to written reports.

Case studies are a useful tool to sales and marketing. Customer success stories invite reader interest and add body to an otherwise clinical report.

Know the purpose of your case study and develop your case study with an aim.

The purpose of a case study is to arrive at a conclusion, to this end you have to conduct interviews to substantiate your written material. While interviewing bear in mind that you give a free rein to the interviewee to answer your questions.

You will be asking questions relevant to your case study for this you should ask questions that do not disturb your interviewee.

Tip: Know the purpose of your case study and develop your case study with an aim.

What is a business case study and what is it good for?

A case study can help improve employer/employee relations so that workplaces become more effective and productive. How do case studies achieve this?  It is by conducting an intensive study of a single unit with an aim to generalize over a larger set of units.

According to a case study writer case studies help the customer open his wallet and buy your product and this happens because case studies provide cold hard proof to validate the utility of your product. Thus we can see that a case study has multi-dimensional uses. To give a simplistic definition of the use of a case study one can say that it adds value to your product or report. I’m harping on product value because we are considering business case study here.

A case study presents a report of what happened to a business or trade over a number of years. It records the events that company honchos had to deal with for example the rise and fall of the competition and the strategy that they arrived at to deal with the situation.

Tip: A case study can help improve employer/employee relations so that workplaces become more effective and productive.

Different types, eg business, academic, healthcare

Case studies fall into different brackets such as descriptive, exploratory, and explanatory and then they can be further sub-divided into business, academic and healthcare related.

Let us begin by discussing what an explanatory case study is?

Using both subjective and quantifiable research methods, explanatory case studies not only analyse and describe incidents but can also be used to explain formative relationships and to develop theory.

Descriptive case studies are concentrated and elaborate. They state theories and questions at the outset and carefully examine and explain a phenomena at the opening of the case study.

The exploratory case study explores distinct events marked by an absence of detailed preliminary research. The name itself is self-explanatory, it sets out to explore a hypothesis

Business case study falls into the bracket of descriptive case study. It confronts the readers with real life situations and uses their abilities to solve the challenges presented by the real life situation.

What makes a good business case study?

Dexterity in writing case study can bring business to your company. A well-researched , in-depth analysis of how your company has helped its customers can add credibility to your business. Case studies make use of stories to describe how the company products have helped the customer. Apart from actually talking to customers, case studies are a great way of showcasing your company strengths and getting your business noticed. They can be placed on your company website, along with your newsletters and brochures. Case studies can also be used for press or public relations,  as they are a great way of creating brand awareness.

A great case study has three elements; first is a business challenge that the company has faced. Second is the solution that the company has found and lastly a list of benefits attained.

You must also engage your reader and tell your story with a powerful angle. Success stories in the face of hardships are a great source of inspiration and generate lot of reader faith. For example, the story of how e-commerce helped a business to grow.

Tip: A great case study has three elements; first is a business challenge that the company has faced. Second is the solution that the company has found and lastly a list of benefits attained.

How to write a business case study

To write a good case study you should be not just skilled in writing but should also have ready data on your hands that you could use to make your case study plausible. Here are steps to follow when writing a business case study.

Investigate the story:  Search for the best story to narrate to your audience. It should have concrete data and provide believable results. Gather data, conduct interviews and ensure that you have all the material required to narrate a story interspersed with hard facts.

Give a structure to your story:  Give a proper structure to your story by giving a situation, problem, solution and evaluation. Make sure you address the customer’s principal concerns or issues, the challenge, the whole journey and the practical implementation.

Furnish clear benefits: Organize the case study with clear what is in it for me. That will hold the reader’s interest.

Use relevant details: Think of relevant facts and details that your readers would want to know and that would make your story more plausible.  Make sure your data highlights the personal benefit to the reader. This will make the reader believe that by using the same approach they would get the same results. Do not use cliché’s or jargons. Remember, a case study is a soft-sell document that would benefit from facts.

Legality: Ensure that your case study has a legal standing.

Promote your case study: Promote your case study through the people you have interviewed.

Tip: Give a proper structure to your story by giving a situation, problem, solution and evaluation.

How to outline a business case study:

Case studies are powerful tools to promote your business however they have been relegated to the realm of research material due to lack of proper writing skills.

Begin the case study in a compelling way by including a benefits oriented title. A crisp customer quotation and a brief synopsis of advantages in bullet form. The following structure should deliver the kill.

Heading

The heading should be crisp and should highlight the main benefit of the solution.

Limit the caption to 12 words or less.

Customer quotes

Include a gains oriented customer quotation which is short and crisp.

Phrase the quotation in such a way that it sounds like something someone would actually say.

Benefits synopsis

Highlight the benefits in two-three crisp bullet points.

The narrative

The next important step is narrating the story in a compelling manner. In this part of the case study make use of subtitles to serve as beacon lights for the readers. Begin by narrating the challenges faced by customers dealing with this industry. Then transition into the specific challenge faced by the particular customer or group of customers whose case you are narrating.

The solution

Ensure that you narrate the specific solution to the specific problem faced by our case.

Conclusion

The conclusion should be clear and should highlight the outcomes of the case study. 

Tip: The heading should be crisp and should highlight the main benefit of the solution.

What should be the format of a business case study?

Following should be the format of a business case study.

Format deals with how a document is laid out in terms of appearance.

The cover page

This should clearly state the title and names of the participants in the case study such as the people interviewed for the case study.

Executive summary

This should be written at the end of the report as it lists the key findings of the report.

Introduction

A brief account of what the case study covers should be written in the introduction.

Body of the case study

This contains the following content:

Target market identification

Market requirements

Analysis of the case

Key issues and goals

Recommendations

The final step in formatting a case study would be to mention the Conclusion

The conclusion should include references which would mention all the journals, periodicals cited and also include online research

Tip: A brief account of what the case study covers should be written in the introduction.

 

What should be the structure of a case study?

The structure of a case study refers to methods of arrangement of ideas or content.

Once you have gathered the data for your case study.  You have to give structure to the case study. The following should be the structure of your case study.

The first step in framing the structure would be to give the introduction.

Introduction

Identify the key issues and problems in the case study.

Create a thesis statement and summarize the outcome of your study in 1-2 sentences.

Background

Background helps in setting the scene. Background information should be laid out along with relevant facts and the key issues examined in the case study.

Proposed solution

Provide one particular and realistic solution.

Explain the reason for selecting the solution.

Support the solution with substantial proof.

Also include personal research and anecdotes.

Finalizing the draft

After you have finalized the first draft for your case study, look for any loopholes or gaps. Fill the gaps so that your case study becomes a composite whole.

In the end do not forget that case studies are a soft-sell document so they should highlight how the product benefitted the customer. It should tell your story in such a way that it converts your potential customers into customers.  Talk about your ideal customer’s industries as if you have got a feel about the nuances of their industry for instance if you are talking about the education industry ensure that your narrative includes a background of universities and educational institutions so that the reader feels you are touching familiar ground.

Tip: in the end do not forget that case studies are soft-sell documents so they should highlight how the product benefitted the customer.

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Catching up

It’s been a very long time since I updated this blog. I was busy and updated my other blog but this one somehow took a backseat. I’m now in a full time job and freelance only occasionally hence I don’t have any suggestions to offer but I shall continue updating you with the world of writers.

I have found recently that one can become a technical writer, an instructional writer, a medical writer and a plethora of niches to write on. It’s a fascinating world as a writer.

My life has changed a lot since I started writing this blog. I used to work from home. My father was alive, now he is no more, I’m working full time as a writer and supporting myself independently. I will very soon come up with articles for technical writers, instructional writers and make this blog come alive. Ciao till then!

As a freelancer I have found that there are basically two to three kinds of clients–one– who are on a limited budget, want to spend minimal and want to gain the maximum. They will never appreciate your work, will haggle over every penny and frankly are no good in financial terms or even in work satisfaction terms as you won’t even get a good recommendation from them. They usually frequent buy and sell forums and their threads read something like, " Need native English writers to write 500 word articles on online marketing niche. Articles should have no grammatical or spelling errors. I will pay $ 10 for 10 articles. I need them within 48 hours." My advice, unless you badly need work, avoid such clients.

The Professional Client

 

The other two types are the ones we have to focus on–the second type of client pays well, knows what his money is worth, will provide you with recommendations and will generally be professional in all his dealings. He can smell a rat from a mile, so, do not try to fake your credentials with such a client. You should impress him with your credentials. He may even hire you if you are a newbie, as long as you can show that you can deliver.

This kind of client values his reputation as a buyer as much as you value yours as a service provider. I would recommend this kind of client as he is quick to praise, will give you honest feedback and will also teach you a few things about your craft as he is a perfectionist when it comes to work.

Where to find them, check out job boards and have a CV or a blog or website as samples.

The Vague Client

 

The third kind of client is the one on whom you should really focus on. He has money, isn’t completely sure of what he wants, but is ready to put in his money if you manage to convince him.

Look for them in job boards or content mills sites. Keep samples ready and write a nice persuasive proposal. Check out Angela Hoy’s free eBook on, "How to Be a Freelancer."

In her sample query letter she starts by giving a sample of her written work, then goes on to describe what her article is about. I recommend this book as a guide for any freelancer, irrespective of what stage your career as a freelancer is at.

How to deal with the professional client?

Let us now discuss how to tackle the latter two. For the second kind of client, be confident, not over-confident. Do not fake up credentials– if you do not have relevant samples, say, "if I’m given a chance I can prove my worth." If you sound good enough, chances are he will hire you. This kind of person is easy to tackle, if you know how to. They are not suspicious but chances are have seen a lot and do not trust easily. Don’t come up with a long winded plan either, just give a clear plan of what you offer and what you can do for them. Short and simple is the mantra here.

Be a good listener and do just as the client asks, this in fact goes a long way in your career as a freelancer. People who are good listeners manage to deliver just what is required of them as they listen carefully to what the client wants– they have the capability to fill in the gaps.

How to handle the vague client?

Now we come to the third kind of client, he is willing to pay, is suspicious, as he has heard many stories of writer scams, but, doesn’t have much experience in the field– if you can convince him, he is willing to put his money on you. Try to come up with a definite plan, explain to him how you are going to translate his vision . He is willing to be led, you should know how to lead. Discuss at length how you work on a project. This will convince him that you are a professional and you know your job.

Ask him relevant questions about the project, so that, he knows you are interested in the project and will do a thorough job.

Do a quick background research as well as study the latest trends in the field-bottom line– client knows that you know your job.

Submit a rough draft for client approval, so client knows he won’t be taken for a ride.

Prepare a final copy and review it yourself and then finally submit it to the client

Follow these steps along with ensuring a strong online presence. Be active on discussion boards, always try to share your knowledge, remember it is more important to share your knowledge than to display. In the latter case you may come across as an overbearing personality, if you are an authority on a subject you will be recognized as such.

All this will serve as a sample of not just your mastery over words but also show your clarity in thought process and your ability to convey it through words.

Writing for the web seems to be relatively easy; you not just get published but get paid too. With that said, can anybody become a writer? The answer to this question could be a yes and a no, which essentially means, anybody can write and get published, but there is no guarantee that their written works will be read.

Readership is what determines a writer’s popularity. While it is good to get support from friends and family, the best appreciation for a writer comes when a stranger appreciates your work and wants to know more about you or wants to read more of your written works.

In that case what are the 10 essentials of web writing?

Here is a list of some important requirements for writing engaging content on the web.

Use a conversational tone-this means directly address the reader. You may be one of those who uses personal experiences to drive home a point or one of those who just state facts. In either case please ensure that whatever you are stating has relevance for the reader. Some people have a great way of using personal experiences to convey a message and they make it humorous too.

For instance, I get newsletters from Sue La Pointe, a writer who writes in a very informal tone– but–does she manage to drive home the point? She does. In fact, she does it so well, I find her blogs posts not just interesting but she manages to motivate me enough to believe that I can write well too.

Active Voice– Stephen King and several others recommend the use of active voice, the reason for this is simple it is direct and keeps the reader engaged. While the third person narrative or the impersonal or objective tone is fine, it should not be didactic or tend to sermonize.

Use Examples– Using examples or illustrations to convey your thought has always been preferred, especially in non-fiction writing. You can use illustrations from your personal experiences or just pick any object or example to explain your point. Use of illustrations to explain a concept has always been a standard method of teaching. Consider your readers as your audience who want to gather some information from the article.

Provide Information– Do not consider the web to be your literature class where you display your verbal flourishes, rather pack your written work with information. Remember the internet is often primarily used as a place to search for information. So, make sure your article has accurate, up-to-date and in-depth information. Do not do a perfunctory job when it comes to providing information. The more information your articles provides the more likely is your reader will come back. The standard rules of writing apply to the web too. Give correct information and the reader will buy your book.

Use Short Paragraphs– Writing for the web should be concise. It is essential to make your writing succinct. The reader skims the article for information so unless the article is pithy, the reader is unlikely to stick around. Short sentences and short paragraphs are the essentials of web writing.

Know your subject– Irrespective of whether you are a subject matter expert on a particular topic or not, make sure when you write about something you know the subject in-depth. Don’t limit your knowledge of a subject to a 500 word article. This will not just help you in building trust with your reader, but is good for your credibility as a writer.

Confident Tone– Write confidently and this comes when you know your subject well. So make sure you have your grammar in place and you know what you are writing about. Make sure every article, blog post, or e-book you write is well researched, even if you are just compiling information, make sure that your source is good so that you can be confident that you are providing value to your reader.

Avoid Using Jargon– Do not assume that your reader has also done the same kind of research work as you. In fact remember that you are a facilitator of information for the reader, so make sure that the he finds your copy easy to understand.

Interactive content– Web writing is a lot about being interactive. Make sure you leave things open for the reader to comment on. The reader should have questions or should be able to add some information to the article. So make sure that your content is presented well and engages the reader.

 Focus on the content– It is not necessary to make your article an encyclopedia but make sure you provide all the information in a simple, easy to understand manner. Make your article come alive by exuding your energy and enthusiasm into it.

 

Everybody has a story to tell, but, they may not have the time or energy to write their book, or they may not know how to tell their story in an interesting manner. People who want their story written can use the services of ghostwriters. Ghostwriting is of several types–it could involve telling somebody else’s story, where the book is credited to somebody else. Another kind of ghostwriting could involve writing books or articles on any subject and then giving over the credit to somebody else for a small sum of money.

Ghostwriters are generally well established writers who write books for a hefty sum of money while the credit for writing goes to somebody else. In short they sell their writing services for a certain amount of money.

Skills required from a ghostwriter

A ghost writer should be a competent writer. He should have good interviewing skills that involve asking relevant questions to get enough matter from the client to write an engaging story.

The writer should make sure that his personality as a writer does not come forth when he is ghostwriting. He should keenly observe the client’s thought pattern. He should be able to see the client’s vision and translate that into the book. He should function as the client’s voice.

A ghostwriter should maintain complete confidentiality. He should not threaten to sell the client’s story in case there is a fall out between the two. Ghostwriting also involves being a good listener. Irrespective of how preposterous you may find the client’s story, you have to do a good job of telling it.

Ghostwriting involves constant interaction between the client and the ghostwriter, so it is imperative that the ghostwriter possesses excellent communication skills.

A ghostwriter should be good at collecting data and then organizing and processing it to create a meaningful and interesting book.

Steps involved in ghostwriting a book

As a ghostwriter when you have collected all the relevant material for the book, you have to create an outline and a rough draft. Once you have prepared a first draft send it to the client for approval. After the client approves the draft, start writing the final book. Do not edit while writing the book. Once you have finished a chapter or so, start editing.

As a ghostwriter your job is to collect as much relevant data as possible. Try and learn about all the aspects of the client’s life.

If the book you are writing is not a work of fiction, rather it is an ebook on online marketing or has some other technical aspect, you will have to collect all the relevant data and then write your book. A non-fiction book may take less time to churn out than a work of fiction.

Fields where ghost writers work

Actually ghostwriters work in all fields. There are medical ghostwriters, ebook ghostwriters, screenplay ghostwriters and of course auto-biographical ghostwriters.

In fact ghostwriters though not well known are often responsible for all the books that are ascribed to movie stars, politicians and industrialists.

Ghostwriting screenplay is not just a full time job but can fetch you a lot of money too. It will also ensure a full time career for you. The entertainment industry is always looking for fresh talent so even if you begin by ghostwriting, you can end up writing for yourself.

Ghostwriting can enter any field of work. You can ghost write books on finance, spiritual guides, and marketing manuals. In fact sky is the limit for a talented ghostwriter.

One field in which ghostwriters have traditionally worked is writing memoirs and personal stories. This is also a field which requires a lot of money to work.

Becoming a certified ghost writer can be of immense help. Try attending the tele-class run by Claudia Suzanne, to fine tune your craft. Even if you are a great writer, the course will teach you the essential mechanics of the ghostwriting process. Here’s the link to her site:

http://claudiasuzanne.com/tag/professional-writer/

Payment terms and agreement:

Make sure you have a written agreement before you begin writing. Payment should be 50% advance and the rest once the book is finished. Client satisfaction is of utmost importance, so consult the client at every step and if the client is not satisfied by the final outcome make sure you make the necessary changes. A negative feedback can seriously damage your career as a ghostwriter.

Make the right moves and this could be one of the most satisfying careers, where you have the respect of your clients and money too.

Effective writing is the key to ensuring a good readership base–this is true of anything that you may be promoting– your website, your products, or just yourself as a writer. Unless you offer some meat to the reader, they won’t come back. This would bring us to our next point–should one then write only about saleable topics? Or should one write in such a manner that we make our topics saleable? I’d suggest the latter. True winners always chose the unbeaten path and slow and steady wins the race.

While we are discussing the unbeaten path or topics that already do not have endless promoters we also should consider how we promote our topics. Remember, when it comes to researching on the internet– people search everything, people basically come to the internet as a one-stop-shop for information. So, as long as you are providing good solid information on any topic be sure that your article will be searched.

Not every one comes to the internet looking for 10 tips on how to make easy money. Many come to look for genuine information and the topics they look for could be as varied as looking for a recipe or information on computer hardware to written works of Shakespeare or even a research thesis on biochemistry.

If you provide knowledge that makes for interesting reading, you should not be worried about driving traffic to your website. An important point to consider when you settle for topics that figure in the list of top-searched topics in Google search engine rankings is– you are inviting plenty of competition. Remember, all the online marketing gurus are promoting just these topics– these markets are already saturated and basically everybody is providing the same information with just a few changes.

This brings us to our next point– what then is effective writing? It’s not always about what your natural inclinations or tastes are– it is often about how well you know your craft? So, whatever topic you choose to write about, make sure you know how to present your information. Here are a few points to bear in mind when writing for any topic—

 1. Think about your target audience and address them: always write keeping your audience in mind. If you are writing for the layman– then keep things simple, but, if you are writing for somebody who, already knows the topic then write accordingly, you have to cater to your niche audience.

2. Make sure your article has a clear purpose: you should not keep rambling on and on about a certain topic. Write with a clear purpose in mind and that should be to impart information or educate about your product–so, there should be maximum information offered about your subject matter in the article.

3. The article should have a logical outline: somewhere in school we had learnt that every piece of writing should have a beginning, middle and an end– this still holds true. Write your article by introducing your topic and addressing your audience– somewhat like a stage performance, where you briefly state what you are there for and then you start your act. Give more information and gradually direct the reader to a logical conclusion. Your article should read like a well made film, where the reader is clamoring for more.

4.Try to gauge the reader’s mind: after you have written your article think what kind of questions your readers might have once they have read your article and try and answer them. Read through and analyze every sentence that you have written and make sure every word adds value to your content.

5. Avoid repeating information: a common mistake that people make while writing on any topic is– they get carried away and start repeating the same thing albeit in different words. They keep making the same point by using either different examples, or they keep playing with words. The disadvantage of this is that it will either drive the intelligent reader away or they would rate you as a writer who has little information to impart. One also has to understand that people who read content are generally impatient– if, they don’t get what they want, they quickly move on. Always remember that short is sweet.

Is there a magic formula to successful writing? What is it that successful writers do that unsuccessful or the not so successful writers don’t? One thing that is definite is they polish their copy. They try to say things in one or two words instead of long sentences. Most importantly, they know the subject well and when you know something well, you can write effectively on that subject. Good writers can add life to the most mundane of subjects and to be honest there are no mundane subjects, there are just dull writers. Which brings us back to our topic what should you do to distinguish yourself from the ilk of dull writers? Here are some tips from top journalists and writers on how to add punch to your writing :   Write like a pro— you may ask me what does that mean? Well, in simple words, write like an authority on any subject. People, who have deep knowledge on any subject, spend less time on selecting apt words, for them thoughts flow naturally. So, the bottom line is do your homework. Research well, and understand your subject and your article will flow naturally.   Stick to simple language—  Some people like to use difficult words but if they are familiar with its usage it is fine, avoid using words that you are not familiar with. Try not to make your writing deliberately obscure, just to appear knowledgeable, otherwise, you may be accused of being esoteric. If you are writing for the web, or in a publication that is not for a special reader audience, try to keep your language simple, and write in such a manner, that even obscure thoughts can be understood by all. The idea in web-writing is to make everything available for all. Make sure your thought flow is natural and logical—  Jumping from one subject to another, or giving examples that deviate from the main subject, will not just confuse the reader but also make the reader lose interest. It is very important, that your thought pattern flows logically and you begin by introducing your subject then build the article by giving more information about your subject and then you gradually draw a logical conclusion. Briefly introducing your subject or stating your objective, in the opening para, is a pattern that is followed in almost all forms of non-fiction writing. Avoid redundancies or repetition of thought and words most articles on web need to be 500 words in length and you are often paid per word, so, even if you are paid $1 per word or more try not to add more words just to increase the length of your article. Redundancy, or constantly repeating the same thing makes the reader lose interest and affects your credibility as a writer. Make sure your article is content rich and not word rich. Try to say things in as few words as possible. Effective writing is clear in thought and succinct. This way the reader will have lots to read about, in terms of subject- matter, rather than a mere play-of-words. Verbal flourishes are not desired in web writing. Organize your thoughts and words—  It’s very important to separate the grain from the chaff. To be an effective writer, go over your written work several times to ensure there are no errors, every sentence is not just grammatically correct, but, also clear in thought. See that your article has logical progression of thought and at this time try to wear your reader’s cap to see how much you are offering to them as a writer. To make sure your reader comes back to read your article, let it read like an interesting story where the reader is hooked till the end.