How do you tell potential customers how wonderful your products or services are?
That’s a trick question, because it’s best if you let someone else share how much they love you. Their excitement about their experience with your products or services will sell more people than your sales copy ever could because their opinions will be viewed as unbiased – it will have no danger of coming across as boasting.
We see this all the time in our digital, often trust-based economy. When you want to know if a restaurant is any good, what do you do? You check Yelp, of course. When you don’t know whether to reserve a particular VBRO, testimonials from others who have stayed there put your mind at ease about the likelihood you’ll have a good experience. We even check testimonials for plumbers.
“When a customer has told you that you’ve helped them solve a problem or they’ve been delighted with your customer service, ask them if they would put it in writing. Just a sentence or two — you’re not asking for a reference letter.”
There’s (marketing) gold in them hills!
Think of testimonials as word of mouth with staying power. They can be written, audio, or video. You can use them on your website, in your email signature, in social media, and in traditional advertising.
You can hope and pray for a satisfied customer to drop flattering words, but we recommend that you do more than that. Customers are busy, too, and as much as they might like you, the extra effort to capture that thought, write something out, and post it or send it to you might mean that, well, it just doesn’t happen and then gets totally forgotten. “I was meaning to. . .” is no help to you at all.
Does being involved in getting your own testimonial seem manipulative? No doubt that comes from an admirable value of humility, but a more productive way to think about it is that, chances are, they want to share their good news. You’re giving them an easy way to do so.
“Don’t be shy,” says copywriter John Carleton in an article for American Writers & Artists Inc. (AWAI) “Ecstatic customers want to give you an effective quote. Most aren’t all that articulate, and will welcome a little coaching on how to say what’s on their minds.”
6 tips to mine testimonial gold
With a little effort on your part, these tips will help you collect the kind of reviews that can become marketing gold.
Ask for a testimonial
When a customer has told you that you’ve helped them solve a problem or they’ve been delighted with your customer service, ask them if they would put it in writing. Just a sentence or two — you’re not asking for a reference letter. Tell them to think blurb.
Make it easy
You could jot down what they say as they dictate something short. Or ask them to text you the gist of what they want to say, because you can polish it and then send it back to them for approval of whether it’s still true to their intent. But be sure it still sounds like them and not you.
Read on in this post for processes you can use to simplify the collection process for you and your customers.
“Does being involved in getting your own testimonial seem manipulative? No doubt that comes from an admirable value of humility, but a more productive way to think about it is that, chances are, they want to share their good news. You’re giving them an easy way to do so.”
Ask for specifics
General testimonials like “This business is great” or “I love my new whatsit” come off like so much babble. Ho-hum. What actual results are your customers grateful for? How did you help them look good? Match testimonials to your unique selling proposition and benefits whenever possible.
Keep it short and simple
Jargon will sound like mumbling and is deadlier in a testimonial than a grammar gaffe because, hey, real people make grammar gaffes. A conversational tone is best. If they’ve written you a three-point essay, thank them, then pick out a pithy quote that honors the context and keep the rest for future reference.
Mine for mini-stories of redemption
What used to overwhelm your customer, but you made it simple for them? What misconceptions did you clear up? Invite them to share a couple of sentences that tell how you came alongside and helped them be the hero of their own story.
Get permission to use their name
An anonymous testimonial is no testimonial. Place the happy customer in an actual city or state, and when it’s relevant, also identify their role with an organization. People relate to and trust other real people. If you can add a photo – perfection. And never make up a testimonial. No way is that ethical.
It’s hard to write sales copy that has more value than testimonials. When you have happy customers, their delight can speak volumes for you. Remember that helping them articulate their own success, with you, can be another gift to them.