Lesson 55: How to use case studies to promote your translation business?

Lesson 55: How to use case studies to promote your translation business?

One of the tips I’m giving at the Business School for Translators course is to start using case studies to talk about the work we’re doing and promote your translation business. The whole idea of using case studies came to me when I realised that clients very often don’t see the real value of translation and that’s why they treat it more like a chore rather than a wise business investment. I tried to figure out how to present this value to convince clients to buy translation and pay more for my services. A couple of ideas struck me, and I’m still testing some of them, including getting the right kind of testimonials (anybody would like a blog post on that?), showing lists of benefits, and using case studies.

I decided to talk about case studies because someone asked for it in questions for #WantWordsTV, but I thought a post could be even better. So, here it goes.

Why would you want to have a case study?

As freelance translators, we usually have a range of marketing materials to promote our businesses, such as our CVs, portfolios, websites, and that’s all fine. The only problem is that they usually talk about us, not the benefit that the client gets from using our services. Case studies turn it all around, and that’s why so many businesses in other industries use them. A case study is a document that communicates tangible results and real benefits of using your translation services. And nothing works better with clients than telling them: look, I can do that for you and this is how it works.

For example, if you do website localisation, you could send a case study to your potential clients showing Google Analytics results regarding the localised version. Or if you want to target clients with your marketing translation services, you may want to show them the effectiveness of a piece of marketing text you’ve translated. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

Where to use case studies?

Once you get it, you can put it up on your website, send to your prospects, or host somewhere online (Behance.net, or seelio.com). In my experience, case studies are particularly effective with direct clients.

How to create your own case study?

1. Pick the right client to turn into a case study

I know this is going to be the most frightening part of the whole game. Very often we’re not even contacting end clients, and now I’m telling you to reach out to them AND invite them to become your case study. Right.

There are no shortcuts here, but I have a couple of tips on how to pick the right client to do it. First of all, think strategically of your case study: which sorts of clients do you want to convince to buy more translations from you? To use an example, if you do medical translation, create a case study with a client who has something to do with this field. Write down a handful of potential case study material clients.

Then just write to them explaining what you want to do and what they’re going to get in return, which takes us to…

2. Make a deal with the client

A case study of your services will be of course mostly your marketing material, but you want to make it look appealing to the client you’re pitching the idea to. So you need to come up with a good deal, offering something in return. Here are a few ideas:

–          You’ll help the client promote the translated material in the target language

–          You’ll offer a discount on your services

–          You’ll do some market research in the target language country for them

If the client sees the benefit in taking part in your case study, they’re more likely to agree to do it. You’re more likely to be successful if you’re really genuinely willing to help the client out, for example you’ve noticed a great offer they have and you think that people in your target language may be likely to buy it, or be interested in reading it.

3. Structure your case study

Ok, I’m sure that by know you’ve already started wondering what to put in your own case study. What I think is very important is to present it from your client’s perspective, so rather than talking about what you’ve done, show the impact on the client’s business. In your case study, you also want to present a specific problem or a challenge, for example: how to increase exposure in your target language country. One of the good strategies to do it is to use before, during and after snapshots.

Before: use client testimonials or data (such as Google Analytics) to present the situation in their business before using your services.

During: describe the process of translation/localisation/interpreting from the client’s perspective

After: present the proof and real data on how translation impacted their business (for example, Google Analytics data related to their localised website or article).

You also want to add some screenshots, or an infographic of the process of translating and mention all the additional services you’ve provided. Don’t forget about a call to action inviting your prospects to try it out themselves.

4. Learn from other industries

I do suggest having a look at how others prepare their case studies, for example in web design or development, or in copywriting. I also wanted to share a few links to some resources I found useful:


BONUS: I hope that I inspired a handful of you to think of coming up with your own case study. I know it may be daunting and off-putting, so I thought I’ll help you out. If you do marketing translation, transcreation, website localisation or business translation, you may want to write to me (yes, to me) and ask me to be your case study. How does that sound?


  1. Christina , on May 1, 2013 at 16:49 Reply

    Great food for thought, Marta! I’m going to put your advice into action, because I’ve found that sometimes companies need, as you’ve pointed out, to see physical proof of the added value in translations. Thanks for the great info!

  2. Krizia , on May 7, 2013 at 14:19 Reply

    How does that sound? It sounds great! Thank you for another exciting post! Miss our webinars!

  3. Patricia , on May 20, 2013 at 14:50 Reply

    Hello Marta,

    I read this article a while ago and thought at first it wasn’t for me – I get easily scared. But taking into account that I’m not getting a lot of work I would like to know if you could help me. I work mainly in the travel&tourism field. Doing some research on the Internet I came across many websites that lack of a Spanish version but I don’t know how to approach them. Would be a case study helpful in my case? How could you help me being yourself my case study? It would be really great if you could contact me. You are doing a great job inspiring and encouraging other translators. Have a nice day,

  4. Lukasz Gos , on Oct 11, 2013 at 14:16 Reply

    I think it mostly just casts the impression that you know how marketing is done in your industry, which makes you look professional. Or that you have the management/logic/communication/whatever skills that makes you capable of putting together caste studies and communicating them sensibly to your readers. The substantive content… dunno, perhaps it’s just like any other advertisement.

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