Portfolio VS. Case Study

TSS #008: Tangible Proof: Portfolio VS. Case Study

Aug 26, 2023

Read time: 5 minutes

For aspiring L&D consultants and freelancers, case studies are arguably the most valuable asset in your marketing toolkit.

However, most severely under-utilize case studies, relying instead on generic "sample” portfolios.

This misses a massive opportunity to attract clients.

Without brand recognition, you must effectively demonstrate your capabilities and credibility.

But many do not develop the in-depth, metrics-focused case studies required to achieve this.

As a result, you blend into the crowd when prospecting, unable to differentiate yourself or provide tangible proof of results.

Your marketing fails to excite prospective clients about working together.

Flawed Attempts at Solving This

Most L&D pros try to showcase their work via generic portfolios of sample projects, training programs, and materials.

While useful as secondary support, portfolios lack the compelling narrative and hard metrics that case studies provide.

They fail to clearly communicate the business impact achieved for a real client.

Some try avoiding case studies entirely, marketing themselves through qualifications and industry credentials instead.

But let's be blunt - being a speaker at a conference means nothing to prospects. They want proof you can actually deliver results, not just blab on stage.

Case studies bring your expertise to life in a way qualifications alone cannot.

Without case studies, prospects have no way to envision the process and results of actually partnering with you.

Generic portfolios provide no client context, no tangible metrics, and no storytelling.

This leaves prospects uncertain about your real-world capabilities.

As a result, conversions suffer, independent consultants struggle to compete with agencies, and huge opportunities are missed.

A Better Solution: Strategic Case Studies

The most effective approach is to develop a niche-specific case study that highlights a major result for a named client.

One strong case study, targeted to your ideal client persona, can position you as a top consultant in your chosen niche.

Your case study should:

  • Demonstrate expertise in a niche area relevant to your niche client.
  • Provide the story of a real client, their needs and challenges.
  • Explain the customized solution you designed for that client.
  • Most importantly, quantify the tangible impact you achieved with hard metrics that matter to prospects. For example, 25% increase in customer retention, 35% faster product ramp-up for new hires, 28% higher engagement scores, $1.2M per year in cost savings, etc.

A detailed case study tells a compelling story prospects can envision themselves being a part of.

It establishes you as an expert who can be trusted to produce results. It generates excitement about the opportunity to work with you.

Cold Email Case Study Examples

In cold email, case studies must be concise but compelling. They should quickly communicate your capabilities and value prop.

The case study examples below demonstrate how to optimize real client stories into powerful cold email-friendly narratives.

This technique can dramatically boost your cold email outreach conversion rates.

Target: Educational Content Providers

Using our proprietary 60-day curriculum development and marketing system, we recently helped [Company Name] diversify their revenue streams by launching 3 new online courses. These new courses generated over $250,000 in additional revenue in the first 6 months.

Can I send you more information on this?

Target: Tech Startups

Recently we revamped the onboarding program for [Startup Name], moving from an ad-hoc approach to a streamlined 4-week virtual onboarding path. This decreased their new hire time-to-productivity by 30% and reduced early employee turnover from 42% to below 15%.

Interested? Let me know and I can send over a few times to chat.

Target: Healthcare Providers

For [Hospital Name], we developed an interactive module educating patients on self-care after discharge. Patients who completed the module were 35% more likely to adhere to care instructions, leading to a 27% drop in ER visits and saving the hospital $1.2 million per year.

Does this sound like something that could benefit you?

Target: Medtech Sales

Recently we created a virtual sales training program for [Company's] device sales reps, focused on digitally-enabled sales strategies. Reps who completed the training saw a 13% increase in sales demos booked and a 22% increase in new contracts compared to their peers.

I made a 3-minute video on our process, can I send it over?

Target: Child Protection Social Workers

Our immersive simulations gave social workers at [Organization Name] regular practice safely de-escalating tense situations with children and families. Since implementing the training, escalations requiring police response have decreased by 51%.

What do you think?

Target: Construction Companies

Recently we tailored a Generation Z-optimized construction safety course for [Company Name]. Workers under 25 showed a 63% improvement in safety compliance after taking the training, contributing to zero onsite accidents over the past year.

Mind if I send over a few times for a quick call?

Target: Manufacturing

Using customized VR simulations, we trained managers at [Factory Name] on reasonable suspicion protocols and administering drug tests. Compliance with company policies rose from 62% to over 95% after the training program.

Is that something you’d be interested in?

Exactly How to Leverage Your Case Study

The key is identifying that one ideal case study candidate from your experience that demonstrates expertise and results in your niche.

Leverage prior work where you delivered immense value and measurable impact for an impressive client.

Craft your case study with context, designed solutions, and metrics-driven impact, then promote it across all marketing channels.

Continually direct prospects back to this case study as tangible proof of your capabilities.

Address objections by quantifying the major results achieved - revenue increases, cost savings, productivity gains, etc.

One niche-specific case study that highlights major quantifiable results can redefine your positioning.

Use it as your competitive advantage rather than an afterthought.


For the aspiring L&D consultant, a strategic case study is perhaps the most valuable asset you can develop.

One good case study can change the whole trajectory of your consulting business and be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Choose your best example and optimize it to showcase your expertise and client outcomes.

Case studies are crucial for increasing the perceived likelihood of success when prospects are considering working with you versus a competitor.

Make prospects eager to be your next success story. 

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