Case studies can help you get more clients.
That’s obvious, right? By showing people you’ve done this work before, and gotten results, they’re more likely to trust you with their own project.
Sure. But you can do much better than that.
What service-based businesses do wrong
Most case studies state what the project was, and what results you achieved. They might also include some quotes from the client.
This is all good stuff. But if you’re selling services, the case study isn’t just about what you did for your previous clients. It’s about your reader’s understanding of what you did.
Because, what’s more convincing than a case study that shows you got great results for someone else?
A case study that teaches the reader how to do what you did, while you show those great results.
This is something I did accidentally when I started blogging about some of my work. I already had ‘case studies’, which showed some of the clients I’d worked with and what I did for them.
But then I decided to start documenting my process and techniques. We’re talking detailed blog posts that showed not only what I’d done for the client, but specifically how I did it.
And before I knew it, potential clients were mentioning those blogs when they called us, saying things like, “I read your blog and that’s exactly what I need done’”.
Here’s how you can write a great case study for your service-based business.
Pick a lesson
You’re not going to have space to detail absolutely everything you did for the client, and that would be pretty boring anyway. Instead, pick one key thing people can learn from your case study.
Don’t be surprised if nothing jumps out right away. That’s totally normal; everything you do is so obvious to you that it’s hard to step back and see what’s interesting about it. But trust me, if someone wanted a certain outcome and you gave it to them (and hopefully got paid for it), there is something interesting in what you did, that can be useful to others.
For an example, I wrote a blog about finding the right tone of voice, detailing how I did that for a client’s audience. I could have written about so many things from that same project but, by focusing on just one, it’s clear what the main take-away message is. Which brings me to point two…
Make clear what the reader will get out of it
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but no-one wants to read a list of things you did for someone else (e.g. “I created wireframes and a colour palette and then …”).
But if they can learn something useful? Bingo.
The title of your case study is often what draws people in, so don’t just write the name of the company or person you worked for and nothing else.
Instead, make clear what you’re offering by saying something like, ‘3 ways Sarah doubled her traffic with Pinterest’ (where the three things are things you suggested) or ‘The programme that took Rachel from Netflix addict to marathon runner’ (where the programme is one you designed and helped her implement).
Don’t hold back
You might worry that if you tell people exactly what you did, they’ll just do it themselves and not hire you.
Honestly, no matter how detailed and practical you get in your case study, most people still won’t have the time or the desire to do it themselves; they’re too busy doing their own thing.
But they do want to understand what you’re doing, if they’re going to pay for it.
If what you wrote made sense to them and they understand the logic behind your methods, they’ll be much more likely to hire you over someone else.
Case studies like this will also attract clients who appreciate the value in what you do. For example, if they thought your web design service was just about making things look pretty, they’ll soon change their mind after reading about how much thought you put into user experience.
You’re targeting people who need your services, not people who do what you do. So don’t get technical; use the language you’d use to explain your work to your granny or neighbour. Remember, pictures help a lot. So, while you might not want to explain what a wireframe is, you could show an image of one so readers get the idea.
Don’t forget to share the results!
It’s still important to tie things up by giving some kind of outcome. Did your web design work bring your client more customers or web traffic? Did your health coaching help someone quit smoking and run 5km regularly? Be as specific as you can.