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Let’s face it, today’s consumers are skeptical. Can you blame them? With all the marketing hype and sales pitches people receive each day, we are all a bit jaded. However, to make the sale we must overcome our prospect’s natural skepticism and create a relationship of trust. One of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal is customer testimonials.

It’s one thing to toot your own horn. People expect you to sing praises about your own products or services. Because of this, there is an inherent disbelief in any marketing message that comes from you. But when other people, who have nothing to gain from your success, say good things about your products or services, your believability shoots skyward. Providing third-party testimonials do just that and should be a part of your marketing message.

Testimonials and the Magic Power of Persuasion

Testimonials are powerful. They create believability, credibility, and a sense of security for your customer. They help to break down the natural barriers and distrust that most buyers feel towards you or your business.

Testimonials have the magic power of persuasion. Look at the success of the George Foreman grill. He has sold millions of dollars worth of this product. Better said, the company that developed the grill has sold millions of dollars worth of grills by using George Foreman’s testimonial.

People seem to have an automatic response to mimic what other people do. Why do you think television producers play recordings of laughter when a punch line is said during a sitcom? Because they know that it will make the live audience laugh, even if the punch line wasn’t funny. Strange? Even stranger is that the people in the audience know that it’s just a recording of fake laughter but producers have found that when the recorded laughter is turned up, the live crowd laughs even louder. It’s a natural instinct to mimic what others are doing.

Customers Who Give Testimonials Are More Loyal

An extra bonus is that testimonials will also create more loyalty in your customers. Once people have put their name and reputation on the line by publicly endorsing a product or service (or person), they will tend to stand behind that decision even if they find out it’s a bad one.

In addition, when you ask your customer for a testimonial, they will feel as though they are helping you and your business grow. Because they feel as though they have a direct hand in the success of your business, they will stay loyal.

10 Strategies for Successful Customer Testimonials

There’s more to obtaining testimonials than just asking your customers for their comments and feedback. If you want to have powerful testimonials that catch your prospects attention and build a relationship of trust, you should consider the following testimonial strategies.

# 1: Try to get a testimonial from your customer as soon as possible. This could be the day you make the sale or within the first week after you make the sale. Your customer will be at their “giddiest” and most motivated to write you a great testimonial during this time period. Don’t wait until the honeymoon period is over. Consider having them write the testimonial before they leave your office or store.

# 2: Always ask your customers to include your unique selling proposition (USP) in the testimonial. For instance, if your USP includes exceptional customer service, same day installation, and a money-back guarantee, then ask your customer to attest to those qualities.

# 3: Don’t ask for customer testimonials in survey requests. Many businesses make the mistake of sending out customer surveys to get feedback from their customers, in addition to testimonials. Your customer needs to have the freedom to stay anonymous and say negative things in your survey, which is the opposite of what you’re looking for in testimonials.

# 4: Have your customers be specific in their testimonials. For instance, if you delivered your product the same day your customer purchased it, tell your customer to include the time that it arrived. If you delivered some kind of outrageous act of customer service have them write specifically about what you did and how it helped your customer.

# 5: Ask your customer to talk about the struggles they were having previous to receiving the benefits of your product or service. Most likely, the reader will have had the same or similar struggles and will empathize. This will only make your prospect more interested in receiving the benefits of your product or service.

# 6: Have your customer state their credentials. This will make their testimonial even more persuasive because their comments will be perceived to come from a credible source. People tend to believe people in positions of perceived authority.

# 7: Always try to get a picture with them using your product or service. As a matter of fact, try to take the picture yourself so that you know you’ll get a good one. Take several and make sure they are showing the benefits of the product or service. Pictures double the effectiveness of your testimonial and bring the testimonials to life.

# 8: Make sure you get permission from your customers to use their testimonials in your advertising. Thank them profusely and let them know that it is testimonials like theirs that help your business grow.

# 9: Ask them if you cannot only use their name but the town (suburb) they live in. Addresses, even if it’s just a city name, increase the believability of the testimonial. It demonstrates that they are real people who live in the same community as your prospects.

# 10: Draft the testimonial yourself. Let’s suppose your customer procrastinates to send in their testimonial. Call them up and mention that you know they are very busy but that you value them as a customer and their testimonial is important to you. Suggest that to save them time and hassle, you will draft a testimonial for them and they can make any editing changes they want. Then send it back. You get the perfect testimonial and they don’t have to do any work. This strategy has worked well for me.

Always Thank Your Customer for Their Testimonial

If you thank your customer for their testimonial it will increase the good will you already enjoy and confirm the customer’s choice for extending their good name and giving you a testimonial. Take a moment to send a personal letter thanking them for their time and effort. Thanking your customer always tends to improve your rapport and solidify your relationship. Besides, it’s common courtesy.

How To Use Customer Testimonials

It’s not enough to receive customer testimonials but knowing how to use them in your marketing activities is what makes the difference. The following are five ideas you can use to implement testimonials into your marketing program.

# 1 – Create a “What People Are Saying…” report. I once heard the story of an independent consultant who after proposing on a project, was asked for his resume. Instead of sending his resume, he made copies of all the testimonials people had sent him (hundreds) and put them in a shoe box and sent them to the company. Needless to say, he got the project. Create your own “What People Are Saying…” report by putting copies of your best testimonials together in a booklet and giving them to prospects. This will become a very powerful marketing tool for you.

# 2 – Put testimonials on your website. Scatter testimonials from customers all over your website. Many businesses make the mistake of creating a testimonial page and putting all the testimonials one page. Place testimonials wherever you make bold claims. If you have testimonials pertaining to a specific product, place those testimonials under that product.

# 3 – Always include a testimonial in your advertising. You’ll never see an ad for a weight loss product without a testimonial. Why? Because those advertisers know that people are skeptical of all ads (not just weight loss ads) and testimonials overcome skepticism more than any other marketing tool.

# 4 – Include audio or video testimonials when possible. It’s one thing to read a testimonial but another to hear and see a real live person.

# 5 – Do joint endorsed advertising.  If you have an associate that has customers who might be good prospects for what you sell, ask if they would like to participate in joint endorsed advertising in which your associate would send a letter or email to his or her customers endorsing (giving a testimonial) you and your products and services. In return you send a letter or email to your customers endorsing your associate’s products and services. It’s a win-win.

Start Today

Chances are, you have not been diligent in asking for customer testimonials. I would urge you to make a commitment today to start asking for testimonials from 100% of your customers. You can’t have enough customer testimonials. Make a plan today to begin a “Customer Testimonial Drive” and set a goal to obtain 100 customer testimonials within the next three months. Draft your testimonial request letter or email and send it out this week. Then start following up on your requests next week.

Testimonials are a powerful tool in helping you to break down your prospects skepticism and fear. When customers give you a testimonial it works to solidify your relationship with them because they have “gone public” with their statement of support for your business. Ask for testimonials from your customers as soon as they purchase your product or service. Ensure that their testimonial is very specific. Always get a picture of your customer to use with your testimonial. Don’t forget to thank your customer for pledging their public support for your business. Now go and get some great testimonials!