How Important are Testimonials to Your Business? By Robert Middleton
How important are testimonials? They are extraordinarily important.
So important that, if you play your cards right, you can build your whole marketing strategy around them.
I once gave advice to a paving contractor: Make getting testimonial letters from satisfied clients your number one priority. In fact, before you start a job, tell your new client that your intention is to do such a great job that they will happily write a testimonial letter once the job is done. And I'd suggest the same thing for professional service businesses. Ask for the testimonial letter up front. This puts pressure on you to do the best job possible and, because you asked up front, when the job is over, it's a whole lot easier to ask for and get that testimonial.
Alan Weiss, the "Million Dollar Consultant" has used this approach for years and now has over 100 testimonial letters which he duplicates and binds into a book that he gives to prospective clients. Talk about credibility!
But there can be a few bumps along the way. And this is what I call the testimonial dilemma.
The dilemma is that it's damn hard to get a good testimonial.
Even if you get a willing client, it often takes ages for them to write it. And when they do write it, it doesn't say what you hoped it would. And if you write it for them, all your testimonials start sounding the same. It often ends up being a hassle and, after several unsuccessful attempts, it drops off the radar screen.
There is one way to get great testimonials. This approach removes the hassle and builds trust and credibility because the testimonial will be of much higher quality. But before we get into the how of this approach, here's exactly what you want in a winning testimonial.
Above everything else, you want a testimonial to convey the biggest result your client achieved by working with you. If they increased their profits by 27%, say that; if you helped them find the job of their dreams, say that. The more specific you can be, the better. Stay away from vague generalities.
Sure it's nice to get a testimonial that says how professional you are and how beautifully you interacted with their staff. Include that as well, but more than anything else, zero in on the bottom line results you helped them achieve.
So how do you get a testimonial like this? There is really only one way: Get someone else, such as a marketing or PR person, to interview your client, transcribe the interview, edit it to emphasize the most important points and then get the client's approval to use it.
And, believe it or not, clients are almost always happy to be interviewed. They are delighted to help you if you helped them. And this approach makes the process so easy.
This will always get you a more powerful, more persuasive, more credible testimonial than if you did it any other way. And it's worth the extra time and money to get several testimonials like this. Just one new client will pay for your investment. Make quality testimonials a central part of your marketing strategy. Get the best testimonials possible by having someone else interview your clients and extracting the bottom line results you produced for them.
About the author: Story written by Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing. Please visit Robert's web site at Action Plan for additional marketing articles and resources on marketing for professional service businesses.