The Executive Summary of your Case Study must make the right impression on your readers. It’s the first section they read. However, the Executive Summary must be the last part of the document you write.
How To Write the Executive Summary for Case Studies
When writing this section, remember this is your best chance to interest the reader—and get them to take action! For example: call your Sales team and get more information about your products, sign up for a newsletter, download a trial product, or request more information about your product line.
What’s the Purpose of an Executive Summary?
Executive Summaries should give readers a high-level overview of your Case Study.
This is NOT the introduction to your document; rather this sets the scene and describes your company, vision and product offering. In your mind’s eye, see the Executive Summary and the Case Study are two separate documents. Approach each one with a different ‘writer’s hat’.
The tone, style, and language may be different. In general, the Executive Summary will be tightly-written, direct, and high-level. You dive into these points in the case study itself. This applies to in-depth case studies over five pages. Shorter case studies may not require the same background information.
Best Practice: Writing your Executive Summary
Write your Executive Summary as though it were standalone document. It’s usually best to do this when the proposal is finished as you will then have digested the material and have a fuller grasp of the business objectives.
The Executive Summary as a ‘document’ introduces your business, principles, products, and people.
When writing your Case Study’s executive summary provide brief summaries of the following:
- Business operations
- Company’s background
- Customer list
- Financial projections
- Flagship products
- Industry awards
- Key services
- Management team
- Market share
- Marketing and sales objectives
- Office locations
- Strategic alliances
- Vision Statement
Guidelines: Writing the Executive Summary
The Executive Summary should be no more than one or two pages.
I’ve seen very concise and persuasive introductions that were less than three-hundred words. The business writers knew how to introduce the key points, ignore/relegate less important material, and use a writing style that made the reader want to read the rest of the document.
This applies to in-depth case studies over five pages. Shorter case studies may not require the same background information.
Don’t resort to clichés and hackneyed phrases. Your customers read business documents all day. Make sure yours stands out.
Note: This applies to in-depth case studies. Shorter case studies may not require the same background information.
- Company – Describe your company background, with details of your industry position, physical location and number of employees.
- Management – Introduce the key members of the senior management team. Where possible, give their name, position, age, prior employer, experience in similar activities, degrees etc. Use common sense here and move these to a later section in the document if it takes too much space. When writing a Case Study, I often add a section called Pen Portraits and add profiles of the management team in there.
- Product Offering – If you’re discussing a specific product offering, for example, software for selling digital goods online, then outline the three main benefits. Where appropriate, discuss key features, customers, competitors and industry awards.
- Value Proposition – Describe what is unique about this product, for example, if it can it be patented, localized, scaled, used over the web, on mobile devices.
- Financials – This is required if you’re seeking funding, looking for partners, or applying for a grant. Keep it short. Check the figures more than once!
- Funding – Describe your current position, use of funds to date, prior funding. Also break out the investment you’ve received to date, investors’ names, business valuation, and details of the exit strategy. (This section may not apply to all Case Studies.)
- Contact Information – Add your name, position, company, address, phone, fax, email and website address.
What else should go into the Executive Summary?