Archive for the 'Copywriting' Category

Case studies are essentially problem – solution narratives. However, to flesh out a case study and make sure it communicates the messages  you want to get across to  your target audience, your case study must include these 7 essential elements. 

1.  The problem or challenge
Define the problem clearly. Detail the situation the company (or customer) was in. What does the customer have to overcome? What stood in the way?  Grappling with a problem adds conflict – an essential element to any good story. To heighten impact, conflict needs to be meaningful  so highlight the stakes involved. Why was it so necessary for  the company  to overcome this challenge?

2. The customer or company
Whether the case study centers on a person or a company, they become a character a protagonist in the story. Add details that develop the character. How long in business? Does the person have an intriguing background? What about setbacks, ups and downs?  When the reader becomes interested in a character (person or company) the chances for a successful case study are much higher.

3. Process
What did the customer go through to find a solution? Highlighting the solutions that did not work is a way to contrast your  product or service with the competition.

4. Discovery 
How did the customer find out about solution? The discovery moment is not just another fact. It’s a classic moment in storytelling that adds dimension to the journey the protagonist went through to find an effective solution.

5. Solution 
Here is the opportunity to put a spotlight on your product, service or company. Show what it can do. Detail some of the top features and benefits, but be careful to keep it educational instead of promotional.
6. Implementation
How long did it take before the solution was up and running? How much training was involved? Were there any rough patches? These are details your potential customer wants to know and answering them honestly will only add to your credibility in their eyes.

7. Results
Of course this is the part of the story that people really want to see. Be as concrete as possible. Use measurements that are  meaningful to the audience or which paint the solution in a brighter light. For instance, EBITDA may be very important for some audiences while revenue gains may have more impact to others.
The specifics of  case studies will differ, but  making sure your case studies  contain all these essential elements can help ensure  they do the job you want them to do.

More at case study writer

Most case studies follow one of two main formats. Either a traditional or a feature story format. Each has its advantages.  It’s important for the company to either pick one case study  format and have the writer follow it or have the writer choose one that seems appropriate for the company’s purposes.

Traditional format

The traditional format follows a basic progression and generally uses a set pattern of subheads: Company/customer profile; background; challenge; solution; results.  There can be variations on the exact wording of the subheads and sometimes “challenge” comes first, but it is essentially a set formula.

The main advantage of this format  is that the reader knows exactly what to expect and where to find specific  information.  Company info is here, challenge is there, etc.  This format makes works with   either short or long case studies.

Feature story format

In the feature story format  the same elements appear in generally the same order. However,  the case study reads more like a feature story in a magazine. The lead ( first sentence and paragraph) take you right into the story. It is meant to capture your attention from the beginning and get you engaged as a feature story might do.

Rather than follow a formula, the subheads are more descriptive and story oriented.  They develop the narrative and pull the reader through.

The feature story format is usually more engaging and more interesting to read.  The reader can also glean much of the story by  skimming through the subheads since they are part of the narrative.

The disadvantage of the feature story format  is that they take more skill to write. So the company must make sure to use writers who can communicate the case story in this way.

Whether you use a traditional or feature story it is important to stick to one format  when presenting multiple case stores within a document or web page. The consistency makes it easier for the reader to go through a number of case studies in one sitting and absorb the points the company wants to communicate.

More at case study writer

I’m really liking the short attention-getting headlines at the top of the Huffington Post. Whether or not you agree with their politics, the short quick headlines pull you in – and the long, clickable subheads tell you the details. Good 1-2 punch to attract lots of clicks.

For instance: when the stock market rallied a couple of days ago after a weeklong nose dive – The HP headline read: It’s Alive!

Right under that was the stock chart for the day. Good grabber.

On a headline about BofA chief and other bank execs refusing to talk to NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, HP ran a big this one-word headline:
Omerta    – the Mafia code of silence.

Good stuff.

For Free Headline templates that attract clicks and more sales, click


I came across a very simple opt-in landing page where  I couldn’t resist signing up. The headline was simple. “Free! Buy these stocks before Obama takes office.”

This optin landing page does an excellent job of combining curiosity with urgency to attract signups. I came to the page on December 26, 2008 from a text ad with the headline “3 stocks you need to get into before Obama takes office.” The date is obviously important because it is just a few weeks before Barack Obama’s inauguration. Urgency is explicit in the timing.

It’s worth taking a look at why it is so effective
The headline is to the point and compelling to investors (I like the headline of the text ad even better because of its specificity). The design of the landing page is clear and spare. You see the headline then “Enter Your email” and just one field to fill out – your email address. It sits there in the middle of  the screen surrounded mostly by white space – like a tempting piece of candy to someone with a sweet tooth. Hard to resist. See screenshot below:

 There are many examples of spare opt-in pages. But this is about as spare as it gets, depending on the strength of the headline and the simplicity of the layout for its power.

A small logo in the  upper left corner tells you it’s from the Motley Fool, a brand name in the investment newsletter field. It’s all that’s needed to tell you this is coming from an authoritative source.  

What happened after signing up
It’s also interesting to see what they did post-signup. Once I signed up I came to a detailed 3 page article/report. It goes into the historical relationship of stock movements and presidential administrations. 

It then transitions into talking about the sectors that should benefit from Obama’s policies. The report then revealed all 3 stock picks. There is certainly good marketing reasons to give away this information.

1) It follows the give-away free information model on the Internet. The idea is to get people thinking: if I get all this for free, imagine what I’ll get with their paid product.”

2) Theory of Reciprocity – one of the principles developed by noted social psychologist Robert Cialdini. The premise is that when you give people a gift (e.g. valuable Free Report), people feel obligated (and may pay for your newsletter).

Still, I wonder  . . .

The text ad and landing page headline were exceptionally compelling.
I believe the power of the curiosity and the urgency generated here would immediately stimulate a  good conversion rate to a paid membership. In that model, you would not  give away all 3 stocks (remove the word Free from the headline), and reserve this valuable information for those who buy the newsletter (preferably a Free Trial).

There is the risk people would resent that you teased them again. But I believe it’s worth a test. I’d experiment with a shorter article or report  that gives away some of the prized information, possibly 1 or 2 of the picks. Then lead them to the Free trial to find out the rest.

In any case, in the model they applied here, they still have time  to convert me. After all, they now have my email.

Whether you go for the conversion right after signup, or later during email followups, combining curiosity and urgency is one of the top combinations for getting results.

For another powerful opt-in technique, go to squeeze page advice.
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