If you’re like me, you’ve become addicted to reading people’s comments before buying anything on Amazon. We want validation that we’re making the right decision, and what could be more sincere than the spontaneous assessments of people who have already bought and used the product?
One of the reasons testimonials can be more effective than you simply talking up your own business is that they seem more authentic, and therefore trustworthy.
The use of testimonials has ballooned in recent years. We go online to read what everyday people have to say about restaurants, movies, and the products at Best Buy. And whole websites, likes Angie’s List, are built around people wanting to have access to other people’s reviews.
If prospects know nothing about you, they require a good deal of selling on your part to convince them that you deserve their business. Testimonials can be an important part of that sales process by making prospects feel more at home with you.
What Makes a Great Testimonial?
One of the most important attributes of a testimonial is that it is credible. If people think that you made up the testimonial yourself, it will dampen the response. It can’t be over-hyped (“These cornflakes absolutely gave me a reason to live. I will be forever grateful to the geniuses who created them”). It can’t sound too slick, like it was written by a used car salesman.
The more specific the testimonial is, the better. Just saying the cornflakes were good is not nearly as effective as saying, “The cornflakes had a nice nutty flavor, and they were really crunchy. I poured the milk on them, and then my daughter called me to help her in the next room. When I came back three minutes later I was afraid they’d be ruined, but they were still nice and crispy.”
You definitely want to make sure your testimonials come from your target audience. If you primarily sell to senior citizens, that’s who your testimonials should come from. And if they can directly speak to concerns of senior citizens they will be especially effective.
And you want to give the impression that this is just a sampling of the many testimonials you have on file from satisfied customers (“Here are just some of the glowing comments we received from satisfied customers over the past year”).
Finally, a great testimonial sounds authentic. That means the language may be a little confused, or the story line a bit jumbled. You may be tempted to polish it up, but don’t do too much, if anything. If a word is obviously misspelled you can fix it. But don’t rewrite testimonials to make them sound better. They will be more effective if they sound genuine.
How Do You Get Testimonials?
If one of your clients or customers spontaneously sends you a testimonial, that’s great. But even if someone loves your product or service, they won’t necessarily think to provide you with a testimonial. So, if you’re talking to a customer who praises your work, go ahead and ask if they would be willing to write down their comments and let you use them in some of your marketing materials.
The more information you can give about the person giving the testimonial, the better. First name, last name, and city and state would be ideal. People are always drawn to pictures, so if the person writing the testimonial is willing to provide you with one, try to use it.
Keep hard copies of written testimonials. Also, get written permission to use the testimonials, and keep it on file. Hang on to those permission slips, even after you stop using that particular testimonial. It should be a permanent file.
How Do You Use Testimonials?
Use testimonials in all your written sales materials. If you have video testimonials, put them on your website, and extract quotes to use in your written materials.
Use a variety of testimonials from different customers and clients, and keep updating their use. If you use the same testimonial for 20 years, it may look as though that’s the only testimonial you ever got. In general, the more testimonials you have, and the more you change them out, the more it looks like you’re a growing company that is continuing to get new satisfied customers.