Writing case studies and portfolio pages for a small service business.

Prospective customers need proof you’ve successfully solved their problem for your previous customers. They want to know if you work with people like them. And they want to know if they can trust you. Case studies, portfolio pages and testimonials are the ideal way to provide that proof.

Let’s see how you can provide the information your customers need and increase the likelihood they’ll contact you for a quote.

Writing case studies and portfolio pages for a small service business.

Do you have the right experience?

  • Your prospective customers want to know about your past clients.
  • What was their situation before contacting you?
  • What was it like working with you? What’s the process?
  • What is it like after, how has your customer’s situation improve?

You can learn a lot more about case studies at Case Study Buddy.

Can you help someone just like me?

To be effective, your case study must be about someone just like the customer you’re trying to attract. You want your prospective customer to think.

  • This case study is about someone just like me.
  • Their problem is just like mine.
  • I want the results they got.

This is not an ego trip.

Most businesses get lucky occasionally, landing an especially good job. But if that job doesn’t represent the type of customer you’re trying to attract, don’t make it your star case study. Mention the jobs you’re most proud of, by all means. But don’t scare away lesser work.

I understand your problem and I can fix it.

Once you’ve found your niche, you can become an expert in helping those specific customers with their specific problems. You need a niche that’s big enough to provide a constant supply of work, but small enough for you to make a name for yourself.

My ideal customer is someone just like you.

Your focus should be on attracting your typical ideal customer. If your business is new you might want to market to a wider audience, until you know for sure who will buy your services. But as soon as you can, you want to focus on a clearly defined target market.

Past customers are glad they employed me.

Your case study will end by explaining the results the customer got after you performed your service. Some marketeers call these the afters. Your case study should make it clear what your customer liked about the results they got. For instance: “Employing a service provider can be potluck, but we took the plunge and employed [your company] to [fix this problem] and we’re so glad we did. The solution [add some specific facts] and is just what we hoped it would be. [Business name] fixed our problem, and now we can get back on with our lives”.

You need to understand the result your prospective customers want, reassure them your past customers got that result, and convince them they can have that result too.

You’ll rank higher in Google if you use the words your customers use.

As you help more of your ideal customers, you get to know their hopes and fears. You talk in their language; you avoid jargon and use the same everyday words your customers use when they search Google for solutions to their problem.

Google tries to return an exact match for search strings. So, if your customer searches for roof repair, and your web page is about hi-tech water repent roofing solutions, you won’t get found. You should write your case study and your website text in plain English, using the same terms and phrases your customers use when they describe their problem to a spouse or friend. 

Don’t just say I love you.

An excellent case study focuses on what your customer experienced before, during, and after working with you. Your customers might say they loved working with you, but your case study needs to focus on why they needed your help and how you helped them. The important point is to explain how they’re better off now. Focus on the problem, the work you did, and the results your customer got. They needed help; you solved their problem, and now their lives are better in these ways.

So, if a customer says you’re great to work with, keep asking why, until you uncover the facts that mattered to your customer. What made you good to work with, what did they like about the result?

For instance, you were great to work with might really mean.

I really felt he listened as I explained my problem. He then asked questions to clarify the situation. He didn’t diagnose the problem until I was sure he understood the situation from my point of view.  Next, he explained the pros and cons of the different solutions available and asked me which solution I preferred. Then, while doing the work, he arrived on time every day, was professional and courteous to work with, and left the work area tidy before going home each night. The result is brilliant. I’ve got the [dream kitchen etc] I always wanted, and I love it.

Case study headlines.

There are different parts to a good case study headline. You can’t include all four elements every time, but your headline should include at least one or two of these.

  • The customer.
  • The problem.
  • The solution.
  • The business or service that solved the problem [give your business a plug].

SEO

In this article, I’m talking about case studies to put on your website, so we also must optimize the headline for SEO and Google.

I’ve written a complete article about using head keywords and long tail keywords for SEO. In a nutshell.

  • Make a category such as fitted kitchen.
  • Place posts in that category such as Ilkley homeowner gets dream Wren kitchen.

To discover how this category and post structure helps SEO read the full article.

The three parts to your case study.

  • Problem.
  • Solution.
  • Result.

Write sub headlines for each of these. Then write a paragraph or two below each sub headline. You want the reader to think, I’ve got that problem. This is a solution I’d like too, and it looks doable. If I want this result, I’d better contact [your business].

Photos, graphics, and visuals.

Again, I’ve written a full post about this. The important point is to use images that provide evidence that proves what you’re saying is true.

  • If the customer gets an end product such as fitted kitchens, show photos of kitchens you’ve fitted.
  • If you provide training or coaching, show a coaching session in progress.
  • If you design web sites, show screen shots of your designs. Avoid using stock photos or filler images.

Think hard, take photos showing the reader you can do the work.

Fish out quotes.

Talk to your customers and listen to the problems they face. This helps you learn about the solutions they seek, and you’ll also discover the impact your end product has on their lives. As you go through this process, find outstanding quotes. Use these quotes in the same way you’d use graphic elements. Your best quotes should stand out, look bold, and draw attention to themselves. These are words you really want prospective customers to see, even if they only give your page a quick scan.

Scannable and easy to read.

Format your post so it’s easy to read. By including headlines, short sentences, paragraphs, images, quotes, and white space, you make the page look less intimidating. No one wants to wade through a sea of text. Your headlines also make it easier for the reader to scan the page, looking for any specific information that interests them.

Text length.

How much text do you need to write? Try write at least 300 words per case study. If your case study justifies more text, include it. But don’t write waffle to boost your SEO. Google is more likely to rank longer pages higher than shorter pages, but keep it interesting.

Give the reader the information they need while being concise. Also, format your page so it’s easy to read and appealing to look at. Use the adage, it should be long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to keep it interesting. You cannot bore your reader into buying your product.

Get the word out using social media and your mailing list.

If you’ve built a mailing list of prospective customers they’ll want to hear about results you got for other people like them. So, when you have a new case study or portfolio page, include it in your mailing list email and write social media posts about it.

Don’t just wait for people to find it themselves. Be proactive, but not annoying. Say, because you’ve shown an interest in our services, we thought you might find this new case study useful. If you’re looking for similar results, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

Customer enquiries.

If a prospective new customer contacts you to ask if you do a certain job, and you already have a case study about a similar job you’ve done in the past, email them a link to that case study. It saves you the time of explaining everything in detail, and it just might swing the balance and make them choose you to do their work.

An evergreen asset.

Depending on the type of work you do, your case studies and portfolio pages can be evergreen assets.

The time you spend…

  • Taking clear photos.
  • Writing a short overview of the work you did.
  • And explaining the results your customers got.

Will serve your business well for years to come.

Writing portfolio Posts using my ready made posts