Case Studies/Content/Journalism/Marketing/Writing

Case Studies, Articles, White Papers, Press Releases & Blog Posts: What I’ve Been Writing

Posted by M. Sharon Baker
Case Studies, Articles, White Papers, Press Releases & Blog Posts: What I’ve Been Writing

I profiled Betsy and Warren Talbot of Married with Luggage for Intuit's Small Business Blog

It’s summer and I’ve been so busy creating content for clients and magazines that I have not had time to brainstorm topics for the blog or update my website.

Many times, this content takes a while to show up on the web.

Below is a list and some links to what I’ve published/created so far this year.

In some cases, confidentiality or still in progress work prohibits me from sharing.


Writing for Corporate Clients:

I profiled Betsy and Warren Talbot of Married with Luggage for Intuit's Small Business Blog

I’m a member of the blogging team for Intuit’s Small Business Blog. Some posts include:

For Intuit’s Go Payment Blog I’m writing case studies paired with videos:


I continue to write case studies for


I collaborated with Gail Harker and her students to write a contributed article for a new industry publication called Fiber Art Now.

Developing the Fiber Artist Within at The Gail Harker Creative Studies Center


I’ve written several  press releases, including:

I'm helping Carol Tice and David Lester promote their book



I can’t share details, but I’ve also been working on:

  • 2 White papers, 1 for data center client, another for a high tech firm
  • 4 B2B Lead Nurturing Articles plus emails, three for networking client, one for call center
  • 16B2B Blog posts for networking client partners
  • Press Release and Media Pitching for financial firm



I also still “commit” Journalism:


For Tech Target:

For Nation’s Restaurant News:



  • Open Kitchens, Diner Involvement: Keys to Cashing in on Chef, Cooking Craze
  • Vegetarian Sausage, Burgers, Other Vegetarian Items Now Mainstream

For Seattle Business:

  • Mothers of Invention: Despite the daunting economy, Washington has plenty of ‘mompreneurs” bravely starting new businesses.
  •  Later this year, another story on Women-owned Seattle Area Businesses


By taking stock of what you have accomplished this year, you can see what might be expanded into a case study, additional links for your website or a list of people to survey for testimonials.


How do you keep track of what you’ve done so you can use those projects to your advantage? I’d love to hear your best practices in the comment section below.


Photos © Warren Talbot, M. Sharon Baker, MOD Pizza


Case Studies/How To

Two Storytelling Secrets Marketing Managers Can Use To Transform Boring Case Studies

Posted by M. Sharon Baker
Two Storytelling Secrets Marketing Managers Can Use To Transform Boring Case Studies

Do your case studies make prospects yawn?

Do your case studies make prospects yawn?

Most business case studies are nothing more than informational reports where concepts are discussed in generalities.

Many are formulaic, starting with an overview of the customer and a general outline of their problem and, in very general terminology, how your company solved that problem.

What’s missing are the specifics that allow you to create and write an engaging story that resonates with prospects.

Jack Hart, a newspaper writing coach and collaborator who helped several reporters win Pulitzers, addresses the difference in his latest book, Story Craft.

For years, he says, reporters were directed “to show not to tell.” But in reality, he says, to tell a good story, you need to do both – tell and show – by moving up and down the abstraction ladder.

A case study must describe a general problem that many have encountered, but make us feel the pain of the problem by providing specifics and highlighting the pain of a single customer. The key is to make us feel the pain, not just describe it.

So how to you do that?

First, ask the right questions in the interview process.

Identify the pain points. There is a big difference between “having an antiquated phone system” and having the press box phone bank go dead during the championship basketball game.

Or between “maintaining an old PBX system” and having to wait four days and then pay $1,500 for a service provider site visit only to tell you it will take another five days to get the part you need.

Your customers call you for a reason. Listen to what they say and start capturing that information.

During a case study interview, ask them to tell you what they are trying to do and why it is important to their company. What problems are they running into, and how does it affect the overall business?

Get really specific and ask how, why and “what happened then” questions.

Don’t settle for generalities like “our computer system was very old.” Dig until you hear “many of our customers wanted to place bets right from their mobile phone while the thoroughbreds paraded to the track. But our network couldn’t handle every new device and we knew we were losing millions of dollars.”

Second, quantify results people can relate to and understand.

You didn’t just save your customers time and money. You can now get the press box phone system up and running in five minutes from your home at any time rather than driving 25 minutes to the field, figuring out what is wrong and without making a $150-hour service call.

You didn’t just add new servers and a T-3 line, you provided Internet access to 400 students who used to sit in the library and find the information they needed in the school’s single set of 10-year-old encyclopedias.

Ask customers what benefits they now receive from your services. Ask them to contrast the task now to what they did before, and to quantify how easy it is to accomplish now.

Armed with these specific details, you should be able to write a chronological story, starting with your customer’s biggest headache and progressing to how you solved the problem and how his life is much, much easier now. Weave historical details and company background throughout the introduction rather than blurting it out at the beginning.


Tell prospects a story; don’t dump information in their lap. The story is in the details; you just need to dig them out.

Photo: Morguefile by Indenture


Are you tired of the formulaic method of writing case studies? How are you making your case studies more engaging?

Case Studies/Content/Writing

Case Study: DKA Architecture – Contributed Articles Boost Awareness For Architect Firm

Posted by M. Sharon Baker
Case Study: DKA Architecture – Contributed Articles Boost Awareness For Architect Firm


Increase Awareness of Green, Sustainable Practices; Responsible ReUse Practices

As the world began building green, Seattle’s DKA Architecture decided to launch a major branding and positioning campaign.

The 25-year old architecture firm, known largely for the work of its founder Donald King, wanted to establish its name as a leading green player but also distinguish itself from the green hype.

Marketing director and managing partner Rico Quirindongo wanted the campaign to demonstrate DKA’s “commitment to building community through responsive design – design based upon the awareness that one does not build in a vacuum, but within a set of resources, cultures, practices, and values that radiate beyond the individual project.”

Quirindongo also wanted to keep DKA’s name prominent in what was becoming a very competitive marketplace as the recession and credit crunch hit.

Overnight projects were shelved, scrapped or canceled sending the commercial construction industry into a tailspin. DKA Architecture didn’t suffer much of a dent in its business because it operates in a different sector of the marketplace: working on nonprofit, government and school projects.

But competition for those projects increased greatly as those operating in the commercial sector started bidding on government projects. The increased competition made it even harder to stand out.


Establish Expertise in Local Publications with Bylined Contributed Articles

Part of Quirindongo’s branding and positioning plan included showcasing DKA’s good works in the community with contributed articles.

Writing articles about green practices and DKA projects on a regular basis increased DKA’s visibility and established the firm as a green expert. The articles showcased the firm’s green design skills, detailrf cost savings, and showed how much care and thought around culture, values and core functions DKA considers when tackling a renovation, remodel or new construction.

As a licensed architect who also juggles several projects as well as DKA’s marketing and new business development efforts, Quirindongo was extremely busy. While he enjoys contributing articles to industry publications, he knew tackling additional writing chores as part of the branding campaign would be way down on his weekly to-do list.

Asking DKA project managers to take on the task wasn’t a viable option due to their busy schedules.

So he turned to M. Sharon Baker, a freelance writer who was helping DKA write articles for a client newsletter.

“After doing a great job on Seattle Public Schools BEX III capital projects articles, it was easy to see that Sharon was the logical choice to work with us for articles on our rebranding,” said Quirindongo.

“Sharon has an excellent writing style that communicates easily,” he said. “As a journalist, she has relationships with local and regional editors and understands what is needed to create a good story while at the same time advancing our messaging.”

Baker also know where and when to place the articles that best fit DKA’s target audience.

Quirindongo liked that he could convey information in brief phone interviews, and that Baker didn’t need a lot of hand holding and was good at guiding the process from beginning – brainstorming ideas to writing the article with minimal revisions, to gathering photos – to end, which involved working with a publication’s editors and alerting company executives when articles ran.

The resulting articles ran in Seattle’s Daily Journal of Commerce, The Puget Sound Business Journal and Northwest Construction, among other publications. The articles included:


“Sharon’s contributions were a key part of our achieving our goals for our branding and positing campaign,” Quirindongo said. “In addition, we had Sharon write two press releases as part of our 25th Anniversary campaign and pitch that news to several local newspapers and trade publications.”

DKA received many calls from past clients, partners and potential new customers every time an article or press release ran. And DKA earned ongoing recognition that Quirindongo knows further established DKA as a major player in designing, building and managing sustainable green projects.


Learn More about M. Sharon Baker’s Contributed Article and  Case Study Services  


ACRS, NAAM  Photos © DKA Architecture

Case Studies/Content Marketing

Great Content Idea: Case Studies Help Customers See Your (& My) Success

Posted by M. Sharon Baker
Great Content Idea: Case Studies Help Customers See Your (& My) Success

Skyrocket your sales with Case Studies


Telling a story about how you solved someone’s problem is a powerful way to show potential customers what it is like to do business with you.

Telling a story is a much better way to capture someone’s attention than a product sheet, a features list or short testimonial.

These stories, often called case studies or customer success stories, allow prospects to imagine that they would enjoy similar results should they decide to be your customer.

Actual results and direct quotes demonstrate just how much the customer benefited by working with you.


I love writing case studies, and have written many for and other clients this year.

But creating them to highlight my own work is a bit problematic because many of my customers  can’t share actual results due to confidentiality reasons.


How MicroVentures Landed 1,000 Investors in Just 4 Months

That’s why I enjoyed writing the case study on MicroVentures for RainToday.

Not only did Bill Clark enjoy some great success, but I helped create some of it by helping with his press releases, tips on writing a successful HARO pitch, and writing some of his guest blog posts.


The case study followed the conventional four-part formula:

  • Describe the customer and provide some background about them to set the scene.
  • Show the problems or challenges they faced.
  • Discuss the solution you provided.
  • Summarize the results your customer achieved with your help.

 In MicroVenture’s case, Clark needed to prove the concept, and to do that, he needed a critical mass of investors.

He couldn’t advertise and was hamstrung by securities regulations that restricted his promotional activities for the first year in business.


His plan was four-fold: 

  • Create a Blog to help potential investors why his crowdfunding plan was different
  • Use Press Releases to Gain Media Attention and thus, third party endorsements
  • Pitch ideas to the Media and follow HARO
  • Write sponsored guest posts

The Results?  

A single Venture Beat sponsored post drove 700 to 1,000 unique visitors to the MicroVentures website the day it posted, Clark says. He typically gained between 50 to 100 investors from the sponsored post traffic.

The combination of press releases, sponsored guest posts, and pitching the media helped Clark land nearly 600 investors in just four months, bringing MicroVentures’ total investors to 1,000 in less than one year.

That critical mass of investors validated MicroVentures’ two-fold concept, which is to help companies raise money quickly by pooling the resources of many investors, and to give new investors access to opportunities they may not otherwise see and allow them to invest smaller sums.

You can read the full case – just email me or sign up through RainToday’s free trial on the MicroVentures case study here.

I am always looking for new case study subjects for RainToday. Email me and I’ll send you a list of what the requirements are. Or better yet, I’ll create a post about it.

 Have you used case studies on your website? What response have you seen by using case studies to help nurture prospects?

 Photo: ©M. Sharon Baker