In 2012, Twinkie fans taught us an important lesson about marketing: When it comes to company valuation, customer loyalty is king.
How to Get Higher-Impact Testimonials from Your Customers
Hopefully you’ve read Part 1 of this series and I’ve convinced you that your company must gather testimonials on a regular basis, as well as given you specific ideas for how to leverage them.
The next thing that I would like to provide you with is a systematic approach to soliciting testimonials from your clients on an ongoing basis. By doing this, you can keep your testimonials up to date and current – you can leverage these in your marketing materials to help you pave the way for your prospects to say “Yes! I want to make a purchase!”
Where to begin the process
When you are offering a new service or just starting your business, start by contacting business associates, past customers, and/or friends to offer them a free session or sample product to try. Then, ask them for a testimonial about their experience.
If you have been in business for a while but have never collected testimonials, then start by making a list of all of your customers who you know have had a GREAT experience with your services or products. Make sure these are clients who reflect your target audience so you can attract prospects like them. Also, make sure you reach out to the key decision maker to give you the endorsement. Call or send them an email to ask them if they would be willing to give a review.
Make it quantifiable
If you’ve looked at testimonials on your competitors’ site, you may have noticed that a lot of testimonials out there are pretty bland. They are written something like this:
“I love it. It is so great. I can’t wait to get more.”
Now, of course, I am exaggerating a bit. But, the problem with most testimonials is that while they may give glowing praise, they do not offer proof that your product or company is valuable. The example above does not provide enough detail to have real impact.
To be an effective selling tool, a testimonial should be filled with specific benefits and substantiate the claims that you are making about your company. Whenever possible, endorsements should include quantifiable results. For example, “I saved $300,” “We cut waste by 13%,” “Our company increased our revenue by $450,000 last year,” and so on.
In situations where it is hard to measure quantifiable results, you can still provide a compelling story with powerful outcomes. For example, our client Reflex helps people with chronic knee pain. Here is one of their testimonials:
“After 20 years of constant pain in my right knee from an old sports injury and being told by other doctors that I would just have to live with it or face surgery, my knee feels better than I can ever remember it feeling. I can now do things that I never thought I would do again without pain like running, weight training and playing sports.”
One easy and helpful way to help your clients give you specific benefits is to remind them. In your email, you can give them bullet points to remind them of their experience. You can also send them the following questions:
- What was your situation before working with us?
- How has our business helped you to [insert client problem]?
- What tangible results/improvements have you experienced as a result?
- What’s your situation like now?
Ask people to include photographs whenever possible. It adds visual interest to the testimonial and adds credibility to the words.
How to gather your testimonials
Below are some ideas and opportunities to obtain new testimonials as part of your ongoing systems. For each of these techniques, I recommend that, if necessary, you go back to the person writing it to get specific, measurable results. People are typically happy to help you.
- Write down the praise: Whenever one of your customers gives you a spontaneous compliment in person or via e-mail, thank him or her. Then, ask if you can use their comment as a testimonial. Make sure he or she understands that you will be using it in your marketing materials.
- Create a website link: An easy method to help you collect testimonials is to include a link on your website that lets people click on it to give their feedback. "Click here to let us know what you think." Put a link to your testimonial page to provide other examples.
- Offer an incentive: Periodically you can have a "testimonial drive." Send out an e-mail and offer an incentive for your customers to provide a testimonial. Depending on what type of business you run, it could be a coupon, discount, free services, and so on.
- Make it part of your sales cycle. As you complete a project, treatment, or other service with your customer, ask him or her for a testimonial. Make sure that you ask BEFORE you complete your work. If you wait until your work is complete, you may have a more difficult time getting a testimonial since your customer can move into an "out of sight, out of mind" place. For example, if you are a financial planner, you could ask them toward the end of your sessions together. If you are a medical practice, have cards by your front desk person.
- Ask your "star performers" for testimonials. Almost every business collects raving fans. These are the individuals who buy everything you sell, the customer who you see in your store three times each week, or that individual who gets an incredible result from using your offerings. Make a point of asking these individuals to give a testimonial. If they have just had a BIG result, be sure to ask them right afterwards.
- Include your team. Often, your employees are the best ambassadors for your brand. Train your staff to talk with people about your testimonials program. You can set up an incentive program or a friendly internal competition to encourage your team to collect more testimonials.
Remember, testimonials are one of the most powerful and cost-effective selling tools you can implement in your arsenal of marketing. While you may already have a process for collecting customer feedback, a few small adjustments can yield more powerful, compelling endorsements that do the selling for you.