The first thing you do when faced with any study or report is read the executive summary or overview—right? Then you decide if reading the rest of the material is worth your time.
The executive summary of your case study serves exactly the same function. If the reader sees nothing beyond this section, they will still walk away with a good understanding of your service.
A great summary might even be enough for a reader to pass the information along to the decision-makers in their organization.
That’s why every word counts.
The executive summary is 2 or 3 crucial sentences that provide a concise overview of the case study. It must be informative and:
- summarize the story by introducing the customer and their pain points
- explain what your organization did
- highlight the key results, including 1 or 2 statistics that drive home the takeaway message
Write the executive summary first to help you focus the rest of the case study. But don’t be too rigid: in the process of reviewing the interview transcript or writing the main copy, another point or statistic may emerge as having more impact than what you’ve chosen to highlight. Revisit your executive summary after writing the case study to make sure it’s as strong and accurate as possible.
Sometimes, the executive summary can be short and sweet:
This is a good headline followed by a glorified subhead—but it does the trick!
Other times, a more in-depth executive summary is required to give readers an overview of the case study:
It’s a bit lengthy, but it effectively introduces the client, outlines their challenge, and describes the solution and result. It sets the stage for further reading.
Sometimes, executive summaries miss the mark entirely:
This is not an executive summary. It is merely an introduction. We have no idea what the problem or solution is, and there’s nothing to motivate us to read further.
You can do better. Be precise. Impress the reader with key results. Let them see that you offer solutions that matter.
Leave a comment with some of the “best” and “worst” executive summaries you’ve seen in case studies.