«Return to Blog List Creating Case Studies? The Math You Have to Master


I have a confession. I’m bad at math.

Writers and marketers out there, I know some of you are with me. We were the spelling bee champions, the honors English students and the school newspaper editors.

But algebra was not our thing. Sure, there were some kids talented at both, at which I’m always amazed.

After elementary school, my attitude become one of, “I’ll never use this stuff. I’m going to be a writer!”

Well, here I am in a career mostly about writing and I’m Googling my math questions, or instant messaging a quick story problem to my computer science/math husband.

If you are a mathlete, then stop reading here, or forward this to your “word” friends.

Persnickety Percentages

Customer case studies are about documenting results, showing that actual customers experienced the benefits that marketing and sales promised.

Whether you’re a marketer, business owner or writer producing case studies, there are likely times when you have to do the math on your own. It’s fairly rare that featured customers come ready with all their numbers worked out about how your solution made a difference.

So what do you need to know? Percentages!

In case studies, it’s all about the before and after. How much did the customer reduce costs? How much time are they saving? By what percent did their sales grow?

Percents are sometimes the fallback approach when you can’t name actual dollar figures. Customers will let you mention percentages instead, so you have to know how to calculate them.

Percentages can be easy if you’re going one direction with them, but not other directions.

Fortunately, I found a handy guide for the math-challenged among us. This page gives you a simple formula no matter which number you’re missing and how to do your calculations. There are even problems to test yourself.

Love it. It’s easier than Mrs. Swafford’s approach in 6th grade. (They probably learn this in 3rd grade now.)

Bookmark the page. I know I have. You simply have to do the math in this job sometimes.

Just today, I needed to determine what percent 1752 is of 1,807,125. Can you?

6 Responses to Creating Case Studies? The Math You Have to Master

  1. Hi Casey. Nice post and link; I’m going to be using this.
    Marketing is certainly no longer immune to hard numbers, the good news is that customer reference pros work directly with deals and have an excellent opportunity of showing programme and customer value in hard dollars.
    Apart from with new products it’s now inconceivable that anyone would try to create a case study without metrics.
    Personally I like working with some ‘example’ metrics such as number of trees saved, number of houses powered by energy saved etc. Numbers are here to stay in the word of customer evidence, also it also seems that as one’s career progresses your work becomes just as creative however the need for numeracy increases exponentially.

  2. Casey Hibbard says:

    Hi Robin,

    Thanks for your comment. Yeah, I agree about metrics being critical in case studies today. It’s an interesting balance of giving numbers and providing the narrative. You need the numbers to prove the case but the narrative makes those numbers easier to consume. Numbers and narrative as like yin and yang. Sounds like another post!

    Have a great weekend,

  3. Casey – thanks for the practical refresher. What a great thing to have bookmarked for reference.

  4. Casey Hibbard says:

    Thanks Corey. Glad to know I’m not the only one who can use some occasional help.

  5. Mark McClure says:

    Casey, that’s a nice refresher link.

    I know of case study writers, at least in the b2b tech world, who become proficient with Microsoft Excel (equivalents) because it produces nice charts and tables for inclusion with their copy.
    In addition, using Excel to calculate percentages as shown in your example is a snap. I highly recommend taking ten minutes or so to practice this skill.

    Google’s in-built calculator can also do the job.
    Just copy this string into G’s search box:

    (1752 / 1,807,125) x 100

    answer: 0.097 % to 3 decimal places 🙂

  6. Casey Hibbard says:


    Hey, thanks for the Excel tip. That’s a really good idea. Even easier than pulling out the calculator.

    Nice job on the answer too!