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MARKETING CLINIC: Taking testimonials

MARKETING CLINIC: Taking testimonials

Testimonials run rings around advertisements, product collateral and direct marketing when it comes to gaining credibility in your market place. They are my favourite form of communicating value proposition to prospects and existing customers.

Prospects expect you to say fantastic things about your product, service or opportunity. So you need to tell them what other people are saying about you - how much you have done for them, how you and your product or opportunity changed their business, its processes, its profitability.

Testimonials support your claims and build confidence in you, and your product or service.

Testimonials encourage people to get on the bandwagon. We tend to look to other people to help us make decisions. All of us have friends, neighbours or someone we admire or respect that have influenced our decisions.

So why not translate praise into copy that will work? You should attempt to collect lots of testimonials from a variety of customers - you can carefully select targeted quotes as needed.

Remember to utilise these fantastic credentials on your Web site and in your proposals/tenders. Select paragraphs from testimonials to beef up your data sheets and advertisements, and think about putting those special testimonials in your reception area. Even an e-mail expressing delight in something your organisation has done is a testimonial - do not rewrite it, print it out as it appears in your e-mail intray, making it truly authentic.

Once you've got that testimonial, make sure you continue to treat that customer well - especially well.

Let's look at a few testimonial tips:

Collection

Create a methodical and ongoing collection process. Your sales people are the best source. They need to speak with the customer to seek a positive reaction to the request. The most efficient way of getting that testimonial is for one of your marketing/marcom folk to interview the customer, asking relevant questions to generate the testimonial letter from them. The letter is drafted for them and forwarded for approval and amendments where necessary. The final approved document is printed on their letterhead and forwarded to your organisation.

Preparation

The testimonials need to be market-ready - in a format that is presentable and readily available. Remember to make colour copies of the originals because, unfortunately, sometimes the original goes missing. Many of my clients place them in a testimonial portfolio for safekeeping. A number of clients also make copies of original outstanding testimonials, frame them and place them in the reception area of their various branches.

Suggestion

You would be surprised how many clients want to write you a testimonial but just don't have the time - from a prioritising point of view - and are delighted when you offer to assist them in putting it together.

Again, a number of clients set testimonial objectives - some organisations seek to get testimonials every quarter, others every six weeks. Set yourself a testimonial collection goal and work towards it.

The people you quote should be as much like your ideal prospect as possible. This increases identification and the feeling of relevance. A manufacturer will believe another manufacturer; likewise a financial services organisation will believe another financial services institution, and so on. Testimonials are also more effective when they are from experts or people with some kind of experience.

Use real testimonials

Don't try to rewrite or fabricate testimonials. No matter how poorly worded, the real words of real people are always more believable than anything a writer can come up with.

Making up quotes is not ethical. If you have trouble getting quotes, there's something wrong with what you're selling.

Dolores Diez is the managing director of Rivers of Communication Dolores@riversofcom.com


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