Top Notch Customer Case Studies: A Mini Course

We learn by doing, and something I’ve been doing for over 15 years now is writing customer case studies.

Clients I’ve worked for know that I’m good.

They can tell by the quality of the finished product.

But what makes a particular case study “good”?

I’m willing to bet not many people can answer that question. Not beyond the obvious. “Grammatically correct.” Stuff like that. Ho hummity dum.

But I can.

In fact, when I started jotting down some ideas on this topic, I was surprised at how much I do know — and by how much I’m able to articulate.

How could this surprise me, you ask?

Well, I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but for me the act of writing takes place on the thin film that separates awareness from . . . whatever it is that’s down there below awareness. It isn’t an act of intellect; it isn’t something I control.

Sometimes I can feel ideas as they begin to organize themselves “down there.” More often, that thin film is essentially opaque — whatever is going on below is hidden.

As ideas begin to break up through into my awareness, I sometimes catch glimpses of them. Sometimes the impression is visual–not pictures, but abstract shapes. More often the sensation is kinesthetic. I’ll get excited about something or pulled toward a particular idea and suddenly it shapes itself into words.

And I start typing really really fast :-)

I write in bursts for this reason: when things are ready to come out, they come out in near-finished form. (If I try to write before they’re ready, the writing itself is more cumbersome; the process is forced; the draft will need more rewriting. Sometimes even to the level of re-organization, which is particularly tedious, bleck.) (Which isn’t to say that I sit around waiting for “inspiration” or some such My Little Pony nonsense. Just that there is a gestation period, no doubt about it.)

Anyway. My goal here is not to write a long post about me or my Creative Process ;-P

My point is, this all happens really really quickly. I make “decisions” about what I’m going to write and how I’m going to write it, but the decisions themselves don’t have time to become verbalized.

Yet they are “decisions.”

Some are specific to the particular piece I’m writing. I might choose a particular word because the customer I’ve interviewed uses it; by overlapping the story’s vocabulary with the customer’s, I’m making it more his/hers — I’m also adding a note of authenticity to counterbalance the marketing messaging that is also part of the recipe.

In other cases, the decisions I make are more general — they relate more to the craft of writing customer case studies than to the specific piece.

Generally, I don’t need to document those decisions as I make them.

Ergo, I don’t pay much attention to them.

But if I slow down and think about it, I can verbalize them.

I can also turn them into tips :-)

So that’s what I’m doing. And I’ve got ten of them. (Miraculous how tips tend to show up in groups of ten, isn’t it. Nothing to do with how many fingers I have, I swear.)

I’ll post them here over the next few days as I find time to write them out.

Back soon!

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