Act II: Rising Action (i.e., Explain the problem and introduce the supporting characters)
Now you're getting into the body of the case study and need to flesh out the problem your customer faced. Why did they have the problem and how did they try to resolve it themselves? How significant of an issue was it and what implications did it have? Which executives were involved? Be sure to include quotes from those executives to give your case study more credibility and personality.
Act III: A Climax (i.e., An account of how you helped the customer)
Having now fully described the problem, it's time to explain what you did to solve it. How did you approach the problem? What kinds of resources did you put against it? How did you work with the customer to address the matter? Which of your products and services did this entail? Carefully recount what you've done to resolve the issue, weaving in first-hand accounts from your executives and those of your customer. It may not be as suspenseful as SVU, but when it comes to case studies, solving the problem is as climactic as it gets.
Act IV: Falling Action (i.e., Describe the changes that ensued)
Having solved the problem, what were the immediate results? At this point of the case study, it's time to talk about how things have changed for your customer thanks to the work you did. Add in some stats to illustrate your point and to make the piece more factual and compelling.
Act V: A DÈnouement (i.e., A conclusion to wrap things up and describe the current state of affairs)
Having resolved the issue, it's time to bring closure to the case study by explaining where things stand today. How much better off is the client now than they were before you helped? What's their plan going forward? While wrapping things up, gently remind your prospects of your competitive advantage and why they should consider coming to you when they need help.
Source: Kevin Cain is the director of content strategy for OpenView, where he oversees OpenView's content marketing strategy, with a particular emphasis on the firm's thought leadership efforts, including its labs site, reports and blog. He has more than 10 years of experience in corporate communications, having previously spent over five years as the managing editor at State Street Corporation, one of the world's leading providers of financial services to institutional investors.