Running a business is not easy. Entrepreneurs go through a lot of challenges. This way, business owners can never be fully prepared to face the challenges lying ahead. But does this mean they should bury their heads in the sand and hope for the best? Hope is not a good strategy, and some degree of preparedness will always come in handy.
Luckily, your business is not the first and won’t be the last. Millions of entrepreneurs have set up businesses over the years, and you can learn from some of the challenges they went through to cut your journey by half.
Most of these challenges were when huge decisions had to be made, and the implications are either rewarding or wrecking. If you run a business, you will come across tough times as it is a matter of when and not if.
This article will look at some of the top business case studies and help you learn a thing or two about the problematic situations your predecessors went through and the decisions they made. The idea here is not to copy-paste the conclusions but double click into the logic behind them to help you understand what is good for your business.
We could highlight a million case studies here, but we will break the chosen few into how they affect the different business units vital for success.
Human Resources Case Study; How Atlassian Used Data to Attract More Qualified And Diverse Graduate Candidates
Atlassian is a global company that produces a suite of online collaboration tools, most notably Stride, Trello, and Jira. The company’s mission is to unleash the potential in every team, which from the onset outlines the massive focus on the people working there.
Diversity and Inclusion are becoming massive issues in the human resources world, as companies strive to achieve this to improve their products and services.
Why Diversity and Inclusion?
Evidence shows that diverse teams perform better. The products and services rolled out by any company are often a reflection of the employees. Well, they are the ones that think through the user journeys, customer experience, and features, and it is in the best interest of any company to have a workforce that relates to their customer base.
What Did they Do?
Atlassian identified critical problems behind their lack of diversity. They include a male-centric employer branding, a limited number of female candidates for advertised positions, and possible bias during the recruiting process.
Atlassian decided to take a bold and data-heavy approach to hire more diverse and qualified candidates into their teams. They rolled out solutions that directly affect the issues highlighted above.
The first one was to tackle the Atlassian employer branding. There was a need to change the employer perception to make it more diverse, initiated by putting images on the career pages that represented a more diverse team of employees.
They also emphasized that Atlassian gives people across all walks of life opportunities to take their careers to the next level. This resulted in more people visiting the career page to feel more comfortable applying for the positions since they believed that Atlassian is a diverse employer. The key headline was “Atlassian is for everyone.”
On the issue of a limited number of female applicants, the campus recruiting team implemented changes to their campus campaigns to encourage interested applicants to apply. They ensured that these campaigns had strong female representatives, which is vital to inspire ladies to rise and apply for the positions.
Additional measures included sponsoring the Women in Engineering Scholarship on top of the existing ones and engaging with women tech societies in Australia through events and mentoring sessions.
The last issue, unconscious bias, was addressed by moving away from interviewing for the best cultural fit. It was established to be an ambiguous term that encouraged groupthink, exclusions and team blind spots.
The solution was to interview based on how values were aligned. In the new interview format, candidates were assessed using questions that signal behaviors that are successful in the company—this standardized the process and eliminated bias based on personal style and preference.
As a result, the best candidates showed they could work openly, had greater empathy and embraced positive change.
The changes were successful, as seen from the representation of women and other minorities improvement in their graduate hiring. 57% of the global Gradlassian class were women, and 33% of US technical interns identified as colored.
The limitation was on the persons with disabilities.
Companies can learn a few things from this case study to experiment with their new Diversity and Inclusion initiatives. Progress is better than perfection, and it is a journey that takes time to reap the rewards. Always be comfortable starting small as it allows you to expand what works and change what does not.
Marketing – The Coca Cola Marketing Case Study
Coca Cola is one of the leading global brands, and a lot can be learned from its strategy and how it has evolved over the years to meet customer needs while still staying true to its promise and identity.
A Brief History of Coca-Cola
Coca Cola was first started in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1886 by Dr John Pemberton at Jacob’s pharmacy. In that year, he only sold nine drinks. Today, it has affiliations with 500 brands selling 17 billion drinks in over 200 countries every day.
When the product first got to market, it was a syrup at 5 cents a glass. It was changed to a carbonated drink that was seen to be refreshing and delicious.
Dr Pemberton brought on board a partner Frank Robinson who helped change the name to Coca Cola. Dr Pemberton did not realize the potential of his business and kept on selling portions of it to partners, most notable Mr. Chandler, who later moved to acquire complete control of the company.
What Audience Segment Does Coca-Cola Target?
It is safe to say Coca-Cola has a product for every segment. Its brands range from sparkling soft drinks to beverages. The customers are everyday people with varying tastes and preferences. Flagship products like Diet Coke are popular among other youth, while those above 35 still relate to them since they know the brand from their childhood days.
The different beverages have a minimum target of 12 years, as the company is reducing advertising that targets children younger than that. Geographical segmentation is huge as the company aims to market the right products for the people living in a specific geographical region.
What is the Coca-Cola Marketing Strategy?
The whole Coca Cola marketing strategy is based on “happiness.” The terms Coca Cola in mandarin translate to “Delicious Happiness.” This is the brand promise the entire company revolves all the marketing campaigns on. It strives to bring people together and create happy moments in their lives.
This is the global strategy that is curated to fit the different countries Coca Cola is sold across the globe. Over the years, Coca Cola expanded its global reach by acquiring some brands locally. For instance, it took over Parle Foods and other smaller brands like Thumbs Up, Limca and Mazaa.
Coke was marketed as a temperance drink in the early days due to the laws against alcoholic drinks in Atlanta. It was a refreshing drink that cured anxiety, headaches, indigestion with addiction. Cocaine was removed from Coke in 1903.
Chandler, who later acquired the full rights, was a marketer by profession and took things a notch higher. While distributing Coke, he also moved complimentary coupons, souvenir calendars, and books to depict the trademark logo and increase its visibility in various spaces.
The idea of the bottle was a milestone since initially; Chandler only sold Coke on soda fountains. Two innovative minds, Benjamin Thomas and Joseph B. Whitehead, secured rights at $1 to sell Coca Cola in bottles.
By that time, it was so famous in the United States that imitations quickly found their way into the market. Initial campaigns like “Accept no Substitutes” and “Demand the genuine” seemed generic, and there was a need to differentiate.
In 1916, the first unique bottle was made by the Root Glass Company in Indiana. This design has undergone very minimal changes to date.
In 1919 the company was sold to Robert Woodruff, who had a global outlook and planned to make Coca Cola available to anyone anywhere while differentiating it as a premium brand.
Some of the critical aspects of the Coca Cola marketing strategy include;
The shape of the bottle has remained consistent over time. Everyone across the globe relates to the same coke bottle, which is the same since 1915.
The font and logo used to type the names Coca Cola has not changed for a long time. The logo was first designed in 1923 when the company leveraged the Spenserian script, used by accountants only.
Pemberton’s accountant, Frank Robinson, designed this logo using his writing, and it has stuck to date. This was not common with other brands, and their logo stood out from the competition.
Branding for Coca Cola was done in a way that it did not directly compete with other beverages. It was positioned as an experience of joy and happiness, which intrigues more customers and drives brand affinity globally.
The Marketing Mistake by Coke
One notable date in Coke’s marketing history is 23rd April 1985. All the years of brand building and connection to customers showed this day as Coca Cola made a grave marketing mistake. At this time, the number one competitor, Pepsi, was eating into Coke’s market share, which tempted the leaders to shake a few things.
The public shifted their preference to soft drinks and non-cola beverages, which made Coca Cola’s core product drop. Quickly, the people responsible did some blind taste tests and figured out that customers preferred the sweeter Pepsi. They promptly changed their recipe, and after doing a few tests, the new recipe beat the old one pants down.
Similar tests were done with Pepsi, and more people preferred the new Coke. Feedback was collected from focus groups, and a few people were angry at the change and said they would no longer buy anything else from Coca Cola.
The data was there, and all the tests were done, so Coca Cola did the logical thing and launched the new Coke in New York. Sales rose in the first few weeks, and the leaders pat each other’s backs at the impressive job they had done. And then things started going South.
Analysis showed that the new Coke would save the company and help regain market share, but two things were overlooked; emotion and branding. The few members who expressed anger appeared to be a minority statistically, but the power of opinion from like-minded individuals and voice of dissent was too loud to ignore.
The headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, received almost 1500 calls a day, up from an average of 400. It became messy, and the leaders realized that customers had an emotional attachment to the Coke brand that led to this anger besides taste.
They were forced to quickly revert to the old recipe, calling it Coke Classic. The company’s 100 plus years of brand building on stadiums, coolers, sweatshirts made people love Coke to the extent where changing it was a grave mistake.
Business and Revenue Model – A Case Study of Facebook
Facebook is one of the leading tech companies globally, and honestly, not many people thought it would rise to the levels it is operating in today. In this case study, we look at the Facebook business model and how it has evolved over the years to create the giant that it is today.
Social networks are not new, but the bad of digitization change this space significantly. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Myspace, and Wechat did not really introduce any concept to the world, but they took the social aspect of human interaction on digital platforms and expanded connections globally.
Our thoughts, ideas, opinions, gossip, and videos were no longer viewed by close friends and family members but by people living in different corners of the world. These companies took a step further and transformed a regular human interaction into a sustainable business model that drives some of today’s top tech companies.
A Brief History of Facebook
Facebook was developed in 2003 by Mark Zuckerberg. He was still in college, and he created it as a game to compare photos of cute girls and allow people to comment on the hotter ones. This story was brought to life by the famous movie The Social Network.
After this reasonably controversial introduction, Facebook was launched as an internal social network for Harvard students in 2004. It was only opened for the public two years later after a series of large investments and lawsuits that threatened to hinder its ability to accept users from the public.
One of the most notable lawsuits was another Harvard-based social networking site called Harvardconnection that later changed to Connectu. It was alleged that mark Zuckerberg used their code to develop Facebook while working on a contract he had been offered to help build that site.
When it was officially launched in 2004, users could do three basic things, which are still the core functionality of the social network. They are;
- Create a profile with a picture and personal information
- Check out other people’s profiles
- Add people as friends
Today the consumer benefits outlined by Facebook are;
- Connect and share with your friends
- Discover and learn
- Express yourself
- Stay connected everywhere
Value Proposition for Businesses
Very few people understood how Facebook would make money, but the owner clearly had a long-term vision. It is incredible since Facebook operated for at least nine years before finally rolling out a revenue model.
The revenues generated by Facebook are huge, and it can be argued that they’ve made up for the years they took to build the company and ensure operations what right to support their revenue model.
The first notable instance where Facebook monetized its operations was when it held its initial public offering on 18th May 2012. This was the biggest IPO for an Internet company, with the marketing capitalization hitting highs of 104 billion dollars.
In a statement rolled out by Facebook, the value proposition to businesses was,’ marketers can engage with over 1 billion monthly active users on Facebook or subsets of our users based on information people have chosen to share with us, for instance, age location, gender or interests.
We offer marketers a unique blend of relevant social context and engagement to improve the value of the advertisements.’
Facebook Revenue Model
Facebook makes its money from an advertisement-based revenue model. Marketers can leverage the number of users on Facebook based on age, gender, location and interests to ensure that the messages get across to the most relevant audiences.
It also offers alternative payment methods such as cost per click and cost per impression while allowing trusted referrals to boost credibility.
During its launch, Facebook promised to remain the same for users. It vowed to stay clean and clutter-free, not send users information, retain control over their customer experience, and not overloading users with ads.
Part of the strategy was to expand the global community by venturing into less penetrated but large markets, such as Brazil, India, and Japan. It also improved its mobile platform as part of a plan to make this social network more engaging and readily available to your users.
It created a Facebook platform which is an open system where developers can come up with plugins and API’s to improve operations.
Facebook takes pride interest as a cornerstone of its business. As a result, it’s dedicated significant resources to improve user trust by placing policies to protect privacy, enhance the user experience and safeguard the users’ data.
It’s previously learned from its early mistakes, notably on 14th December 2005, two MIT students accessed over 70,000 Facebook profiles from four schools.
In September 2006, when new user feeds were launched, users gave a lot of feedback about how their everyday experience with the feed had been interrupted as it was cluttered and overwhelming. Facebook quickly moved to reverse this change and reverted to the old feed.
Many upcoming tech companies can learn a lot from Facebook’s business model. Its path to the top has not been easy, and it has been involved in multiple lawsuits that have threatened its existence, but it came out stronger, and the leadership learned a lot from those pitfalls. Facebook’s success can be broken down into essential factors, one of which being a defined growth strategy from day one.
By initially opening to Harvard students, then to other university students, and eventually to the public, the network sold itself, and Zuckerberg had a clear plan to increase the number of users.
Facebook offers a value proposition centered on improving personal and professional relationships. Facilitating the connection between friends encourages users to create a relationship network, which has been a critical enabler behind Facebook’s advertising over the years.
By collecting user preference data on the network, Facebook enabled marketers to target key demographics based on their preferences.
This way, marketing didn’t feel enforced as users related to the products and services shown on their feed. Lastly, we cannot underestimate the significance of their leader Mark Zuckerberg who has been an ever-present figure throughout Facebook’s journey.
He has demonstrated his strategic leadership skills or on several occasions, and he’s a good representation of what Facebook is today.
Benefits and Downsides of Case Studies
No matter how small or big it is, your business can employ this method to analyze some of the success stories and get more insight into the methods used while learning for the future. They are a valuable form of research for all industries and fields. Today, we will list some of the benefits and downsides of the case study method for businesses.
Advantages of Case Studies
A case study is simply an intensive study of the subject matter. It involves investigation and exploration of an event thoroughly and deeply unearth the insights behind it. A well-done case study will give you an in-depth analysis of an event or situation, especially for subjects that cannot be recreated physically.
Businesses face problems where they come out stronger or worse depending on their approach. While it is easy for the people involved in such processes to reflect on what they did or what they did not do, others in the business might not have the privilege of knowing the internal processes that led to those decisions.
Here a case study can help unearth the defining moments in those processes and serve as an excellent lesson to others within the business and around the world.
Stimulates New Research
Case studies are good ways to trigger new research. In most cases, research is never conclusive, resulting in more questions than answers. A new case study can be completed, and if the findings are valuable, it can lead to more advanced research in that field. Today we credit most of the achievements across the globe to research built on to previous ones.
With every new solution comes a different problem, and the people taking up the challenges are better placed to do better research if the previous one was deep and full of insights.
Challenging Established Ideas
Most success stories today are founded on our predecessors’ theories and ideas. However, we should not be comfortable with those ideas and shut down our creative minds since the possibilities are endless. Case studies are an excellent way to question established ideas or theories by giving divergent ones or poking holes into the existing ones to pave the way for better and improved ideas.
Businesses can particularly leverage this advantage as they strive to increase their competitive advantage and improve the value proposition. Innovation as we know it is mainly credited to bold people that went on the extra step to challenge established ideas.
Provide New Insight
Case studies are the ideal tool to offer new insight. It is not easy to take a large group of people through the entire process used to develop something or arrive at a specific decision. A case study can help circulate this insight to the relevant parties and pass the learnings quickly to help handle similar situations better in future.
Businesspeople face so many problems that seem challenging and impossible. However, most of those challenges are conquered thanks to the blend of great people, tools, resources, and environments. Insights from such case studies can help highlight the importance of certain things in such business processes and then the elements required to improve the chances of success.
Disadvantages of Case Studies
Hard to Replicate
Case studies are suitable for the lessons, but they cannot be replicated. So many factors dictate the way things go, and some of them are outside your business control.
This way, the lessons applied from those case studies might not even be helpful to your current situation. People reading case studies need to be careful and understand this as it is easy to pick up things that will only derail you and not help you.
Possible Researcher Bias
Like any other research, some case studies are highly biased. All researchers have an objective when making a case study, and some do it to drive a certain point. A good case study should be done objectively by an independent party, but this it’s not always the case.
Bias can come in during the objective setting, data collection or data analysis. Regardless of where the best comes in, it will always make the case study lean towards a conclusion which can mislead the people reading it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What does a Great Business Case Study Include?
Answer: An excellent case study should pull readers to try and engage with it, and it includes;
The who, i.e. the company in question
The why, i.e. the reason why the case study is being written
The when, i.e. the period the case study was done
The products and services involved
The challenge at hand
The solution or lack thereof
The conclusion and lessons to be learnt
Question: Why should I Read a Business Case Study?
Answer: The main reason to read a case study is to learn and understand how businesses approach different situations. Think of it as a learning session, where you widen your exposure and get more insight on how to approach your journey. Do not read case studies and try to replicate what other businesses do but be wise to borrow the good and avoid the bad for your benefit.
Look into the credibility of a case study if you wish to avoid some of the downsides, such as researcher bias and flawed data analysis.
Question: How is a Case Study Different from a Survey?
Answer: Both methods are used to collect information and derive meaningful conclusions. The key difference between the two is that case studies provide rich descriptive data and are often more comprehensive than surveys.
On the other hand, surveys are more statistically significant than case studies. The two can be used together as a case study can include results from a survey.
Some of the top case studies today have been listed above, and numerous others are available depending on the specific business area you need insight. Companies such as Coca Cola have different case studies highlighting how they overcame challenges and some of the mistakes they made over the years.
When looking for case studies, try to narrow it down to a topic that you think you need more insight on and find out the top ones there. As you run your business, case studies can be a great way to document some of your success stories and highlight the lessons for future reference.