Thank you Meisha. This was a very timely article for me as I'm thinking of adding a testimonials page to my website. I will be sure to use your suggestions to help me!
Building your Business in the New Economy: How to Effectively Receive and Use Testimonials
In today’s uncertain market, more and more clients are doing their homework before committing to a new product or service. This article spells out everything you need to build your business through the effective use of testimonials.
Testimonials are "proof" that you can deliver. What others say matters.
In todays uncertain market, more and more clients are doing their homework before committing to a new product or service. Don't you read the testimonials and reviews before you contact a new business or subscribe to their service? Studies show that more people will put creditability in personal reviews/testimonials than those provided by the "critics". If you're like me, you will choose to do business with those that have convincing, sincere testimonials.
How do you Acquire More Testimonials?
One of the fastest ways to help grow your business and acquire testimonials is to provide testimonials to others. As my Mom used to say when I was a little kid looking in the mailbox, hoping there would be something in there for me, "If you want to receive a letter you need to send one first". It's that Law of Reciprocity. Who have you done business with that you felt deserved a testimonial? Look at your client database and who are you connected to in LinkedIn.com, Biznik, Facebook. Then, give them a glowing, powerful, authentic testimonial, with no strings attached. More than likely they will give you one in return.
You should try to ask your clients for a testimonial shortly after you start working with a client or they have purchased your product. Don't wait until the end of the relationship. You want to get the testimonial during that "honeymoon" stage.
How can you ensure that the testimonial you receive will be well written and support your business/product effectively?
There are a couple of ways to ensure that you receive good testimonials. One is by sending your client the information below in "What does an Effective Testimonial Include?".
If you receive a testimonial that needs some polishing, don't be shy to polish it (while keeping the context of what they were trying to say) and send it back to them for their approval.
What does an Effective Testimonial Include?
Here are some tips that you and your clients can use to write an effective testimonial.
1. I am Like You / The Skeptic: It is powerful when a testimonial starts by enrolling the reader...I had this problem...I was concerned about...I badly wanted....I had tried this before...I wasn't sure if this was what I was looking for...
The idea here is to describe the problem with enough details so that others with similar situations will say "Oh, just like me!" Sometimes the testimonials that come from skeptics have the most impact. Many clients subconsciously think that if you can persuade a skeptic, you must be good; especially when it comes to trying something new. When you write your testimonial you might want to phrase it in a way that you are relating to why others would be hesitant.
2. Specific Results You Received: Describe your results. Try to be as specific as possible. Think about something the person/product helped you with and put that into words. What were the results of trying the product or using the service? Was it more than what you had expected? Was there a tangible result? This step shares the specific results that you received from using the product or service.
3. Get Personal: In today's world, and depending on the product/service, getting personal sometimes makes it more real. How did using the product or service make you feel? How were you treated by the business? What are some attributes or aspects of the business/person that you really appreciated, valued, or lead credibility to what they offered?
4. Recommend the Person: If you are writing a testimonial then you are recommending the person to others. Don't forget to do that. You can do this by thanking them, recommending them, or endorsing the business.
5. Signatures/Authentication: For a testimonial to be authentic and valid include the following in the signature:
The full name of the person writing/providing the testimonial, what their vocation is (i.e. Real Estate Broker, Stay at Home Mom) and where they are located (i.e. Seattle, WA).
By providing their full name lends credibility. It also shows that the person was so confident in your product/service they are willing to put their name to it.
The vocation will show the variety & different types of people that benefited from the product/service.
The location helps make it feel more real to readers and gives them something to possibly relate to.
If you want to get real savvy, include the business name and website of the person giving the testimonial. This will help build that persons organic website ratings.
"I am like you, I had a problem like you do and wanted to achieve the same benefits that you do. Like you, I was concerned about what I should do, wondering if anyone could really help. Well, now I know! ABC product/service delivered everything they said it would and much more. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I owe you a new lease on life and I highly recommend you to anyone who has my problem or wants these benefits." ~ Mickey Mouse, Actor, www.MickeyTheActor.com, Anaheim, CA
"If you are like me, I was hesitant as to what a Life Coach could really help me with. I realize now that I underestimated the power of having a coach in my life. Meisha brought me back to the importance of following my values and living a more authentic life. I have grown to stop being concerned of what the "world" says of why I can't do this or that. As a result, I have discovered genuine peace in my life. Thank you, Meisha, for championing me to living a more authentic and fulfilling life." Sheila Cottrell, Professional Artist, Tucson, Arizona
How to Use the Testimonials you Receive
It is best to group all your testimonials into one spot (like on a testimonial page on your website). In addition to this main location, be creative... include some in emails under your email signature, put one on your home page of your website where right off the bat a person who visits your site can see how great you are. Testimonials should be included in all your printed marketing material as well.
Ask your clients to post their testimonials on any social media sights you use like LinkedIn or Facebook and also consumer sites like Yelp.com. It may be helpful to give them step-by-step instructions on how to do this, especially if they don't already have accounts on those sites.
Before using a client's testimonial always ask permission from your client before using it! I know this sounds pretty basic, but don't assume that just because they wrote something nice about you in an email you received from them, that you can copy and paste that comment on your website. Many people are also very sensitive to having their "name" out there. Make sure and get permission on how their signature line will look after their testimonial as well.
In Conclusion, testimonials can be one of the fastest ways to grow your business. When you give others testimonials, by using the steps outlined in this article, you will also build your businesses exposure organically when you include your keywords or website in your testimonial to them. When you receive testimonials, now you know how to effectively use them to build your credibility, which will lead to more business as well.
Learn more about the author, Meisha Rouser, MS, CPCC, ACC.
Comment on this article
Posted by Deborah Thibodeau, Bellingham, Washington |
Apr 25, 2009
Posted by Lynn Hajnal, Kirkland, Washington |
Apr 25, 2009
I enjoyed reading your article! When I updated my website last year I made sure I had a testimonial from a client on every page, plus a page for the spill over testimonials. I found it very effective to do so, from the "I am like you" standpoint. I also made sure that clients that addressed my specific brand had testimonials on the home page, as that page will make the most powerful impression. Not everyone goes on to read the rest of the site!
Posted by Janet Ott, Olympia, Washington |
Apr 27, 2009
Very useful - thanks! Good info. I have been having difficulty thinking about testimonials - it's one of those things that have fallen through the cracks, but I need to get them done, so thanks for the insights.
Posted by Meisha Rouser, MS, CPCC, ACC, Seattle, Washington |
Apr 28, 2009
Thank you, Deborah, Lynn and Jan. I appreciate your feedback. Jan, you are right on. It is so easy to let testimonials fall through the cracks. We don't want to pester our clients, asking for testimonials, but we need to remember that it really is a very important aspect of our marketing and credibility. Besides, the clients usually enjoy knowing they are helping. I hope this article is inspiring people to ask and give more testimonials.
Posted by Gil Pauley, Bellevue, Washington |
May 14, 2009
Very excellent article.
We have a "Testimonial" section on our main website and I am getting ready to add a similar section to our blog. We have constructed a special card for our patients to fill out while in the office. At the bottom, we ask if we can post their comments by either first name, anonymously, or some other name. In a couple of instances, the people have said we cannot post their comments. But all others are OK with it.
However, I should point out that in the dental field (true in medicine too) we have to be very careful about names because of HIPPA laws. Therefore, we use only the first name and last initial. Even with our patients whose photos are on our website with a photo release, we never use last names, only first names if we even use a name with the photo.
The photo itself is a type of testimonial, because you can see it is a real person. Since some dentists use only "stock photos", we try to make sure that anyone viewing our website knows the photos are actual patients that have had work done in our dental office.
It seems that other businesses could use photos of their clients in some type of setting related to their business. Also, I think other businesses could benefit from "before and after testimonial" photos, as we do in dentistry.
Overall, you wrote an excellent article and I enjoyed reading it.
Posted by Meisha Rouser, MS, CPCC, ACC, Seattle, Washington |
May 18, 2009
Thanks for the great information Gil. You had some great points. I love the idea of photos. I even noticed today on the home page of Biznik was an article about testimonial videos. Another great idea.
Thanks again for sharing, especially about confidentiality.
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