B2B Case Studies: Beyond “Situation, Action, Result”

Where is the drama? Build a story to make B2B cases studies more engaging.



Don’t be boring!

White papers and B2b cases studies traditionally use the abrupt and clunky “Situation, Action, Result” format, as if the steps just happened lickety-split in 1-2-3 order. This paint a story-by-numbers approach misses the opportunity for some more emotional engagement.

Here’s an example from a case study for large technology company, with a few identifying details changed.

The Challenge:

XYZ has been growing rapidly over the last 19 years. As a result of this growth, the company’s infrastructure costs were escalating. XYZ started to investigate ways to reduce the operational and capital costs of supporting multiple office locations around the world.


Nineteen years. In the real life business world, the “Situation” has often existed for years before any “Action” is taken!

Is that your experience as well? Think about your organization. You could probably list a dozen “situations” in need of some attention right now!

The longer the lag time until action is taken, the more questions.

After all this time, why now?

Who decided that enough is enough, and made things happen? A hero — somebody, somewhere, made a decision and reached out. What was this person’s thought process? There may be a fascinating aspect of the story just waiting to be discovered. To develop an engaging B2B case study, dig deeper and ask more questions.

What was the opportunity cost of not acting sooner?  Were costs rising or revenues falling? What was the effect of inaction on morale, operations, branding, or some other pillar of the business? Was there an inciting incident that proved once and for all that a better strategy was needed?

There’s a dramatic story buried in there somewhere, waiting to be found and shared.

This doesn’t mean you can’t also use bullets, summary points, or visual design elements to reinforce the message. But bullets and lists alone do not make a story.

Who are your compelling characters?

“Situation, Action, Result” is a great place to start. But don’t stop there. Build the emotional tension with a story to engage readers.

Facts and figures alone are soon forgotten, but a meaningful story lasts and lasts.

With compelling writing and storytelling, you may inspire potential clients who may be experiencing similar pain to act, and you just might get a sales inquiry!


Photo, Dominion Drama Festival, “Il était une bergère” courtesy of BiblioArchives, Creative Commons License.

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Posted in Marketing, Sales
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