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Testimonials are one of the most powerful tools any business owner can use, but also one of the most under-utilized. Testimonials are not limited to any one type of advertising or promotional media.

Sometimes, celebrities are used to promote certain products, especially when national or large scale exposure is involved.

That is generally referred to as an endorsement rather than a testimonial, but the principle is pretty much the same.

It happens when another person makes a positive statement or recommendation about a certain product or service.

In marketing, it’s sometimes known as creating a “Herd Mentality.” Dr. Robert Cialdini calls it the “Principle of Consensus.”

That is, if other people who are like me say this product or service is good, it improves the probability that it will be good for me, too.

Celebrity endorsements are simply another form of testimonial and are very effective. If a certain well-known celebrity says something is good, then it must be good. Therefore, I should give it a try.

Most people know that in such endorsements, the celebrity is reading a prepared script written by professional copywriters, and are getting paid to read it. But they still attach a certain amount of credibility to what the celebrity says. Your own clients are some of the best sources of endorsement you could possibly want. Especially if they are known to those you are marketing to or if they have something else in common with them.

Perhaps they live in the same town, have similar businesses, or belong to the same organization or association, etc. At any rate, when people hear that other people, much like them, who have similar interests, needs, wants, or desires have benefited from a certain product or service, the chances of them wanting to know more are dramatically increased.

In reality, there are really only three reasons people don’t buy from you…

  1. They have no use for your product or service.
  2. They can’t afford your product or service.
  3. You haven’t developed the level of trust and believability they need in you to do business with you.

There’s not much you can do if a prospect can’t use or pay for your services. But there is a lot you can do to help wipe away the underlying layers of skepticism they bring to the relationship and establish the trust level they need to say “okay” to your offer.

People don’t like to be the first to do anything… especially if it involves parting with their hard-earned money.

If they can see that others have done what they are being asked to do, or that others are currently doing it, they tend to feel more safe and will be more likely to participate. You first have to relieve any nervousness they may have of being “taken.”

Testimonials are not difficult to get. One of the most effective ways is to send users of your products or services a survey or evaluation form that asks for their feedback on how they’ve benefited from using it. The questions should be in “open-ended” form, and ask for them to write their feelings… not just for yes or no answers.

Remember, when getting others to say something about you, it’s not enough for them to say something like, “Thank you for all your help. You helped me save a lot of money, and I’ve really enjoyed doing business with you.”

It would be far better to have testimonials that pointed to a specific benefit you’ve helped them achieve. Something along the lines of “I’ve been shopping for [this particular item] for more than 6 weeks. Everywhere I’ve gone, I get the runaround. No one has wanted to be of much help, and the prices seem so out of line. Thanks to you, I found exactly what I’ve been looking for, and you helped me save money. Thank you very much!”

Using testimonials… specific testimonials, is one of the most effective ways you can eliminate fear, increase the believability and credibility of your offer, and add to the number of sales or inquiries to your advertisements or promotions.

Whatever you do, don’t overlook this important and valuable tool.

This article is one is a series of The 20 Most Common Marketing Mistakes.