Recently, I asked a client, “Tell me about your system for gathering testimonials?” He replied that he didn’t have one. “What are your recommendations?” he asked.
And here is what I told him…
Why you should use testimonials
Testimonials are one of the most powerful and cost effective selling tools you can implement in your marketing arsenal. They prove that you are the real deal. Your prospects will be much more inclined to make a purchase from you if you can show examples of their peers achieving positive results because of your help. These third-party endorsements do the work of selling for you – in a much more effective way than you could on your own.
This is because testimonials are a form of social proof.
So, what is social proof?
Social proof is a term coined by Dr. Robert Cialdini in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. The premise is simple: we look to others to guide our decisions. Here are a few examples of social proof in action:
- A crowd of people is standing in the park looking up into a tree, so you are compelled to stop to look up (turns out there is an owl sitting on a branch).
- Your co-worker tells you about a great book she read. Before you buy it, you go to Amazon.com and see hundreds of fantastic reviews. You buy the book.
- Its date night and you’re going to the movies. You pull up your Flixster app to see which ones are highest on the Tomato-meter. You choose one based on its great reviews.
- You need a babysitter for your kids so you call a few parents you know to get their recommendations. Based on what they say, you call Jenna to come to your house.
Social proof is an important and ongoing part of our decision-making process. People typically rely on the opinions of others to make a decision, and social proof becomes more powerful when we are uncertain or making a large and important decision.
Social proof in action – the dancing guy
If you haven’t seen it yet, watch this 3-minute video of a man dancing at the 2009 Sasquatch Music Festival 2009:
As you watch it, you’ll see that it starts with one innovator who is willing to take a risk. And if you are a company that is offering a new service, you definitely want to find a guy like this to evangelize your offering. The innovator in the video is quickly joined by a couple of early adopters. At about 1:15 in the video, you’ll see the power of social proof.
How to apply the power of social proof to your company
To leverage the power of social proof, you must ask for testimonials on an ongoing basis.
Unfortunately, most companies do not routinely ask for testimonials. If they do, it’s a one-time effort, typically implemented the last time they had their website redesigned.
When I work with our clients, I help them to systematize their marketing efforts. Gathering testimonials can also be made into a system. By doing this, you can keep your testimonials up to date and current. You can also replace mediocre praise with fantastic recommendations for your services.
Use them in your marketing materials, on your Facebook page, on your website – you can even film your customers giving a testimonial and use these in multiple marketing media.
Here are a few examples of testimonials in action online:
- Fluence: When we designed their website, we created a widget that rotates their testimonials in the website header. Every time you go to another page, you see a new testimonial. As they add testimonials, it gets added to the queue.
- Kinesis: When we redesigned our own website, we created a “call-out” testimonial feature. If you take a look at the rebranding page, you’ll see a testimonial in the bottom left corner.
- Ruby Receptionists: Take a look at this blog post. It’s a cleverly disguised testimonial! We use Ruby on an ongoing basis (they are exceptional, by the way) and they asked us to be a featured customer on their blog. If you look at their last question, you’ll see that Shawn had an opportunity to sing Ruby’s praises.
- Reflex: In addition to a testimonials page, Reflex also interviews clients for case studies that are showcased on their website.
Here are just some of the ways you can use your testimonials in your marketing materials:
- Website page dedicated to testimonials
- Case studies/success stories on website or as printed hand outs
- Videos of clients for use on website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel
- Incorporate testimonials into direct mail pieces and sell sheets
- Use photos and quotes from customers on your tradeshow booth display
- If you have a reception area, post photos of your happy customers with quotes or letters on a bulletin board or, if you are more high tech, use a digital photo frame to display
- Ask customers to review you on Google and Yelp
- Use a testimonial in your advertisement
- When you are talking with a prospect, use success stories of other clients to demonstrate your services
- During a seminar, presentation, or webinar, use testimonials and success stories to illustrate points and inspire people to take action
Next up: The testimonial machine
Ok, so hopefully I’ve convinced you by now that your company must gather testimonials on a regular basis, as well as given you ideas for how to leverage them.
In part 2, I’ll give you the formula for gathering testimonials on a regular basis and the secret sauce for getting a GREAT testimonial from your customer instead of a mediocre one.