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Case studies that actually help the reader

Many business professional firms gravitate naturally to case studies, about projects they’ve worked on, when it comes to generating content. I find that in many cases, these articles do not achieve their goal of demonstrating expertise in a way that reaches potential clients.

The reason is simple – clients don’t care about how your firm does its work. If they did care, they’d have that work retained in-house. So, a case study about a project won’t be of much interest to them. That is, unless there is information they can use. That’s what I strive for in the articles I prepare for my clients.

I find that case studies are most informative, and most credible, if they are jointly authored by the business professional who did the work, and their client.

This is what happened in a case study I did for an engineering firm based in Houston, that had recently completed work on a semi-submersible drilling rig for use in deep water in the Gulf of Mexico. This rig included a number of innovative design features that allowed it to be built and commissioned in a shorter time and at lower cost than previously.

In writing this article, I thought it best to bring in the perspective of the engineering firm, but also their client, a private-equity funded oil and gas producer. That way, the article could talk with authority about the engineering aspects as well as the business issues that the design innovations supported. And, I find that clients are more willing to sign off on the article if they have been involved right from the start.

I first researched potential publications, and selected one out of Houston called “Offshore,” which is typical of narrowly-focused trade media in that it is highly influential in its niche (offshore oil and gas exploration and production) but scarcely known outside it.

I did a joint interview by phone with both authors, and prepared a first draft of the article for review by my engineering firm client, who made their review and then passed the text to their oil company client for review. This article was published along with some pictures supplied by the engineering firm.

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