I, like you, have seen thousands of case studies, and most of them are pretty formulaic and stiff. This case study from German storage start-p Open-E (a past customer) caught my eye as an intriguing way to break out of the press release box.

First, they took a page from the consumer products industry by showing how easy it is to plug their product (a storage server operating system on a chip) into a conventional motherboard…

They also included an aerial view of the particle accelerator whose staff is using Open-E storage…

…and a reconstruction of the “particle path” which shows the existence of subatomic goodies such as gluons discovered by the accelerator.

Would all these photos work for every customer or ever client? No. But use them to think out of the box about how you could “featurize” your case studies (or even press releases) to make them stand out from the clutter.

Look for – or create — pictures that illustrate your benefits: You may not have a nifty cheap module to photograph, but how about taking a picture of the systems administration staff at a customer — with dotted lines showing how many other people used to be needed before the customer began using your client’s manageent software? Or colored boxes in an empty rack showing how many servers the customer got rid of using your client’ virtualization software?

Don’t be afraid to use multiple pictures: Telling a story often requires more than one picture. If you’re writing about point-of-sale software, don’t limit yourself to the stock photo of the check-out clerk with a customer. Instead, consider a picture of the forklift at the warehouse where a retail sale triggers a new order, or even of the overseas factory which ramps up production based on point-of-sale data. Just be careful that you…

Don’t create chaos. When you create a multi-page “feature” with numerous text blocks, photos and sidebars, you run the risk of leaving out (or over-repeating) key points of losing the reader as they browse among the multiple elements. This may be time to hire an outsider to do the content creation — or at least run the initial design by an outsider to see if it makes sense to them.

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

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