21 questions to ask your next case study interviewee

woman writes a case study

As any experienced business writer will tell you, your next case study is only as good as the responses you can solicit from your team and client. So how do you make sure that you're getting the best possible material? 

That's easy: You ask the right questions. 

When we interview our clients' clients for case studies, we don't just ask random questions out of the blue. We work through a list of tried and true questions that both: 

  • Provide all the information we need to write a winning case study
  • Streamline the case study writing process - when asked in order, the answers to our questions form a skeleton on which to build the rest of the case study

We don't believe in hoarding knowledge. So today, we're sharing our go-to list of case study interview questions that will help you write better case studies in less time. 

Note that most of our clients are in the IT space, which means these questions work best for IT implementation projects. They'll still be useful if you work in another industry, but may require a little tweaking. 

The business

  • Tell me about your company – what industry you are in and what does your business actually do?
  • Can you please provide some figures about your organisation, such as size, turnover, number of staff, office locations or similar?

The problem

  • What was the business problem you were trying to solve?
  • What was there a particular trigger that made you decide it was time to act?
  • What were the key challenges you needed to address?

The solution

  • When did the project begin and end?
  • What were your project objectives?
  • Why did you choose [company]?
  • What technologies were used?
  • What was the process for developing the solution? (If you're an IT company, provide the technical details of the solution yourself.  Don't rely on your client to provide this information, as they may not be aware of the depth/breadth of your work.)

Results

  • How is the solution now being used?
  • Has it achieved the project objectives?
  • What quantifiable benefits can you attribute to the solution (e.g. return on investment, dollars/time saved)?
  • What other business benefits have you experienced as a result of this project?
  • How does this compare to how you were doing things previously?
  • How have users reacted? 
  • Who are the main users and what changes has it made to their roles?

Future plans

  • Do you have plans for future development?
  • Off the back of this project, are there any other projects either underway or in the pipeline?

Testimonial

  • If you were to recommend [company], what would you say?
  • How would you describe your relationship with [company]?

***

Which questions would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments!

Best of 2017: Mint Content year in review + top posts

goodbye 2017

Is anyone else having trouble coming to terms with the fact that it's already 2018?

After packing an awful lot into 2017 (i.e. moving permanently back to Australia, getting hitched, launching sister agency Freshly Minted, and being nominated for our first awards), we're ready to enjoy the new year at a much slower pace. 

But before we dive into 2018, we're also taking pause to reflect on the year that was. And what better way to do that than looking back at the posts that you, our readers, enjoyed the most? 

Have a browse, and let me know if we've missed any of your favourites. 

proofreader lisa teasdale

10. Spellcheck isn't enough: Why the best writers use human proofreaders

Ever feel like you do your best proofreading after hitting the send button? We've been there too. But is there really a difference between using Microsoft Word's spellcheck and engaging a professional proofreader?

As an agency that offers free proofreading of all final approved client documents, our answer is a resounding yes. So, back in August, we asked our go-to proofreader, Lisa Teasdale, to explain why behind every great writer, is a brilliant proofreader. 

bronte mann mint content

9. Meet our team: Bronte Mann (marketing and social media assistant)

Bronte joined the Mint Content team as a marketing and social media assistant about a year ago. In this post from January, she shared why she chose to work for Mint Content, and her favourite aspects of the job. 

resume success australia

8. 6 easy ways to reinvent your resume for Australian recruiters

Our writers have reviewed resumes from all over the world, often from job seekers hoping to find work in Australia. Yasmin Birchall wrote this post back when we were being contacted by people frustrated because the resume that has landed them jobs before hasn’t led to job success in Australia.  

Mint Content team Telstra Awards

7. Mint Content announced as 2017 Telstra ACT Business Awards finalist

We were thrilled to be listed as finalists in the 2017 Telstra ACT Business Awards in the New Business of the Year category. While we didn't take out the main prize, we were thrilled to have been recognised as one of only a handful of local finalists. 

top blogs mint content

6. 10 content marketing and copywriting blogs we can't live without

Regular Mint Condition readers will know that we stopped producing our weekly wrap series to focus on producing articles that add more value - like this list of our favourite blogs that help keep us in the know.

plain english writing tips

5. The secret to turning complex concepts into winning content - writing in plain English

What's the difference between awesome and average copy? For most IT and technology businesses, it's writing in plain English. Guest blogger Marissa Batty laid down the plain English ground rules for our readers back in August. 

creating winning content

4. Content at your fingertips: 6 simple, stress-free ideas for creating winning content

Fact: Even the most talented marketers and content writers struggle to produce fresh content on a regular basis. Whether you're selling cybersecurity software or professional services, chances are you find it challenging to maintain a content calendar without compromising quality. It's a problem that we have sometimes too, so we're grateful that Bronte Mann compiled a foolproof guide for generating content ideas quickly and with minimal fuss. 

singapore start ups content marketing

3. We analysed the content marketing efforts of 60+ Singapore start-ups. Here's what we found.

We spent a month in Singapore back in March learning about the future of our industry and identifying new business opportunities. In this post, Bronte Mann shared her research into Singapore's thriving start-up scene, benchmarked content marketing performance, and provided suggestions for how to improve.

best practice tips for copyediting your own writing

2. 7 best practice tips for copyediting your own writing

In a perfect world, we’d all have a professional editor at our disposal to check that our written work was top notch. But with tight budgets and punishing deadlines abounding, that's increasingly unlikely.

That's why Yasmin Birchall shared her simple tips for ensuring your writing is polished, professional and fit for purpose.

case study writing mint content

1. How to write a cracking case study: 4 tips from a management consultant and seasoned case study author

Well-written case studies are one of the most powerful tools in your sales arsenal. They offer a window into what it’s like to work with your business. More importantly, they are a proof point of the impact you can make for your customers. In April, Laura Birchall explained how to ensure your case studies hit the mark and showcase your business in its best light.

***

Happy New Year!

- Amy McPhillips
Mint Content Founder and Director

Stop making these 6 business writing mistakes

Business writing mistakes

Business writing can be a tricky skill to master. Knowing whether to write professionally or casually depends on your company and your audience. But there are certain writing habits that should be avoided by all businesses.

We’ve seen them time and time again.

Don’t be like the other businesses… stop making these writing mistakes.

Mistake #1: Overcomplicating your language

We get it. Writing sophisticated, complex sentences might have been what you were taught throughout university. But essays are not effective in real world communication. Unless you’re a scholar or a poet, you shouldn’t be overcomplicating your writing. Swap words like 'ascertain' for the more simple version like 'learn'. Break your sentences in half and get to the point. The clearer you can be the better, and conciseness is your new best friend.

Writing in plain English is the most effective way to get your message across and keep your audience engaged. You won’t impress your readers with your ability to use a thesaurus. If it's not the most accurate word or simplest explanation, don’t use it.

Mistake #2: Writing in American English (if you're in Australia)

Although your Macbook or iPhone is insistent that colour is spelt without the ‘u’, you need to avoid going along with American English. Most English speaking countries use UK spelling. Unless you’re selling to Americans, you should be too.

If you’re operating in Australia and your customers are Australian, don’t make the mistake of using American English. It looks bad and annoys people.

Mistake #3: Using jargon

You might use jargon in your immediate team but your business speak means nothing to your clients. If your writing is filled with acronyms, industry terms and company phrases, you are instantly excluding a large chunk of your audience. Aside from being irritating to your readers, it also takes them longer to understand.

They might even lose motivation to keep reading – the last thing you want is to lose readers along the way.

Mistake #4: Writing in a passive voice

This is one you might have heard before and struggled with: stop writing in a passive voice. It’s worth learning and practicing, as using an active voice instead will make your writing stronger and clearer.

A passive voice is writing that has the verb being done by the subject...

              The excellent service was appreciated by the customer.

An active voice on the other hand, describes the subject doing the verb...

              The customer appreciated the excellent service.

As you can see, using a passive voice makes your writing vague, and unnecessarily complex.

Mistake #5: Using plurals to describe companies 

Although you think of a company as a combination of people, companies are singular. A company name is a collective noun, and because you are talking about the group acting as a singular unit, you describe them with a singular verb.

For example, instead of:

Mint Content have had a successful year. They have achieved a lot in  2017.

Try:

Mint Content has had a successful year. It has achieved a lot in 2017.

Unless you are talking about the individuals in the team, you are referring to the company as a singular entity.

Mistake #6: Forgetting to check grammar

When your average Joe makes a grammar mistake, a handful of people might scoff. When a business makes a grammar mistake, it’s embarrassing and unprofessional.

It is crucial that in your internal and external business communication your grammar is flawless. Clue yourself in on punctuation, syntax, capitalisation and spelling. Download a grammar tool like Grammarly or Hemingway if you need some extra help. Making these mistakes affects your business’ credibility, and shows that you lack attention to detail.

For tips on how to improve your business writing, read our article: simple ways to instantly improve your business writing.

If you would prefer to have the experts step in and write brilliant copy for you, drop us a line by emailing hello@mintcontent.com.au.