Confidentiality clauses and codes of ethics make it difficult to discuss the specifics of what we do, but case studies can be a great solution in solving the issue of rarely getting to share our work with those who could potentially hire us.
Case studies are gold. They’re also underutilized in the T&I world.
Many people, including our clients, read reviews and success stories before investing in a product or service. And while testimonials are powerful, case studies allow you to tell the story of your clients’ successes as a result of working with you. When well-written, case studies can be very useful in marketing to potential clients.
Case Studies as a Marketing Tool
As translators and interpreters, we don’t often get to tell others about our work, at least not the finer details. Confidentiality clauses and codes of ethics make it difficult to discuss the specifics of what we do, but case studies can be a great solution in solving the issue of rarely getting to share our work with those who could potentially hire us. Sure, we can send a potential client a sample or take a test, but a case study can help clients see themselves in a story that ultimately ends in success. Not only that, but stories are easier to remember. They keep people engaged and interested in what you do and how you can help them overcome a specific challenge.
How to Build a Case Study from Your Clients’ Experiences
The hardest part about writing a case study is determining the story you plan to tell. If you’re unsure how to craft the content for a case study for your website or LinkedIn profile, think of the times when a client has complimented your work or shared a positive outcome that couldn’t have been achieved had they not hired you.
- What did they say (and what words did they use)?
- What did you do for them that helped them achieve success?
- Is this the kind of success your ideal clients are looking for?
Talk to your client and ask if you can tell the story of how you worked together in the form of a case study. Many clients will be happy to oblige. In fact, they may even see a case study as an additional form of advertising for their own business or organization.
If you can’t think of a specific success story from a client that could eventually be turned into a case study, start collecting messages from your clients with compliments about your work. Once you receive a message that showcases a really spectacular outcome for a client, you’ll have the inspiration for the content you need to write a solid case study worth sharing.
Understand the Format of a Case Study So You Can Write One
The format of a case study is quite simple. Keeping in mind the client success story you plan to share, you’ll want to include some specific information, usually in this order:
- Information about the client’s business/organization (e.g., size, industry, what they offer, who they serve, how long they’ve been in business, their objectives).
- Context in the form of a pain point or challenge the client was facing before they hired you, including what might have happened if they hadn’t solved their challenge and any solutions they might have tried before.
- The client’s decision-making process, including how they found out about your services, who was involved in making the decision to hire you, and what they found important when making their decision.
- The solution you provided the client and how it met (or better, how it exceeded!) their expectations.
- How the solution worked for the client, including any specifics on where or how your translation or interpreting helped solve their problem.
- The results your client found by hiring you to overcome their pain point or challenge (e.g., the positive outcomes your client experienced, such as saved time and money, whether their company became more competitive or well-known, etc.)
Once you have the main points of your case study format, it’s time to tell the story. Case studies vary in length, but if you’re planning to keep your case studies on your website, I would suggest making them fairly short, maybe 500-700 words. This will allow you to give enough details without losing your site visitors’ interest. You can use images or graphs to support your case study and break up the copy as well.
Finally, it’s a good idea to include a call to action (CTA) at the end of your case studies. A CTA prompts the reader to do something else on your website. For example, they could click a button that leads to your contact page where they can request a quote on their next project, or another page to read more about your services. Either way, the next step should be logical for the reader.
Learn to Write Case Studies by Drawing Inspiration from Others
If you’re unsure how to write a case study, start reading some from other industries and professionals who work with clients in similar ways. Getting inspiration from others’ examples can be useful to help you decide how to craft your own case studies. The overall message to share in your case studies is how you deliver value to clients. Look for this information in the case studies you read and decide how to convey this information to your ideal clients.
But What about Confidentiality?
Writing a solid case study doesn’t mean you have to break client confidentiality by sharing the actual content of your assignments. However, you should ask a client’s permission if you want to feature them and their success in a case study. Most clients are thrilled with this idea and will give you permission. However, if you’re working for a corporate client or even a mid-size company, you may have to get additional permissions from other departments or managers—like someone from the marketing or legal team. Don’t let asking for permission stop you. Case studies are really powerful. So, if a client responds with a “No, thanks,” just send a request to another one!
How to Keep Your Case Studies Fresh without the Overwhelm
When written with future clients in mind, your case studies can have a long shelf life. Once you have your first two or three case studies, try to add a new one each year, either to have more social proof on your website or the option to replace anything that feels outdated. In addition, it’s important to make sure your case studies reflect the type of work you want to keep doing for clients, not work that you would rather avoid.
Finally, don’t forget to share your case studies widely once you’ve taken the time to create them. They are an excellent way to market your services by sharing the value of professional translation and interpreting in context. Consider showcasing your clients’ success stories as:
- A simple page on your website.
- A file on LinkedIn (just upload a PDF) or an “article” you can pin to the top of your profile.
- A teaser post on social media with a link that leads back to the case study on your website.
- A few slides in a PowerPoint presentation.
The possibilities are endless!
Have you tried using case studies to market your business? Do you have any client success stories that would make great case studies in the future? Let me know!
Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo, CT is the president of ATA. A freelance Spanish and ATA-certified Portuguese>English translator, she is the owner of Accessible Translation Solutions, a boutique translation company based in Southern California. She is also an online presence coach for T&I professionals. With more than a decade of experience in the language professions, she shares her knowledge and years of research to help freelance translators and interpreters improve their online presence by refining their professional profiles to attract their ideal clients while collectively elevating and promoting our professions. firstname.lastname@example.org