Make the Most of Your Testimonials especially if you’re a start up!

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One of the most important things I ever did, when i started my business nearly a decade ago, was to ask for testimonials from day 1.

And the next best thing I ever did was take on a few clients for free, in which to get those testimonials. Not only do i still get referrals from those pro bono clients but their testimonials are still in my hall of success stories!

Testimonials can come in various forms – letter, e-mail, LinkedIn, verbally and each time I asked my client how they would like their name and business portrayed on my website.

If you’re just starting out then make sure you learn how to ask for them – they are crucial to growing your business. Often at the end of my coaching sessions, my clients will tell me how much it has done for them and I will simply ask either 1) can I write that down now and use it as a testimonial or 2) could you send that to me in an e-mail?

Sometimes you’ll use the entire testimonial, perhaps on your website or posted in store. However, most of the time you’ll need to choose an excerpt that will fit your needs. You can always use a different part later. To identify what part of the testimonial should be used, ask the following questions:

  • What is the most convincing part of the testimonial?
  • Is the person a recognisable name?
  • Is there a specific sentence or paragraph that sums up their experience?
  • Are there several sentences or paragraphs that will be of use?

For example, if you need to group testimonials under a specific category, like “Here’s what our customers had to say about their experience,” you’d only need to pull sentences that speak to customer service. If you’re looking for a killer testimonial that will speak to product quality and service standards, you may want to pull a full paragraph and let it stand alone.

You can use testimonials in your business wherever your customers can see them. Here are some suggestions for placement:

Put them on your website.

  • Create a page of your website dedicated to customer testimonials.
  • Include testimonials on every page of your website – especially the pages that generate the highest traffic.
  • Put your best testimonial in a prominent location on your homepage – in sidebars, call out boxes or above the headline – and put a new one up on a regular basis.
  • Use testimonials to break up long bits of sales copy throughout your website.

Put your best 25 to 50 letters in a waiting room book.

  • Keep a binder or album of testimonial letters, printed on source letterhead, for your prospects and customers to flip through.
  • You can keep this binder in the waiting room, your office, your point of sale, your boardroom, or anywhere else you prospect may have an opportunity to look at it.
  • This strategy allows customers to build trust while-they-wait, and usually results in prospects being more open to what you have to say.

Hang your best testimonials in your store or office.

  • Frame your best testimonial letters (again, printed on letterhead) and hang them up in your business or your office.
  • Even though your prospects may not read each and every one, the presence of testimonials will send the message that you have happy customers. They may even want their company names on the wall too.

Put them in your advertisements.

  • Testimonials are highly effective in advertising. Use short, clear, purpose focused testimonials for the best results.
  • Avoid cluttering up your ad with paragraphs of testimonial copy – save that for your website and brochures.

Put testimonials in your direct mail.

  • Let the words of others speak for you when sending a direct mailing. Attach a page of testimonials to a direct mail letter, or include them on postcards or brochures.
  • Since you can’t physically be there to sell your product, the use of testimonials in direct mail campaigns can boost response rates.

Partner with a complementary company for a joint mailing.

  • Send a joint mailing with a company that offers a product or service that is complementary to yours, and you’ll gather a host of qualified leads.
  • The way it works is you send a letter to your clients on your letterhead introducing and offering the other company’s product or service, and they do the same for you. Since your existing customers already trust your business, and you endorse your partner company, the letter acts as a testimonial.

Use video testimonials on your website, in presentations and in store.

  • Put videos of happy customers on your website for browsers to find when they’re looking at your offering. Videos tend to be more interactive, and may be seen by more people than plain text.
  • If you attend trade shows or sales presentations, keep video testimonials on a CD or DVD to play on a loop or in strategic points of your presentation.
  • Transcribe the audio to written testimonials that can be used in your print collateral, and make the most of your customer’s comments.
  • In your marketing materials, invite customers to visit your website to view videos of other client’s experiences and thoughts after using your product or service. It’s always more interesting to see something live than read it on paper.

When you put some thought into how you use testimonials, they will have a stronger impact on your target audience.

Remember that the key to maximising the power of your testimonials is making sure that your prospects see them when they need to see them.

You want to use testimonials to back you up when you’ve said or claimed something unbelievable, or are trying to build credibility. You want to place them so they’re seen right before you ask for the close, or the call to action. Let others speak for you when it matters the most.

When I tell prospectives that I can make them confident in a matter of weeks, they find that hard to believe but it is true – and my testimonials bear witness to this. Take a look at mine on this blog – they are on a separate page.

Testimonials should be used strategically and to maximise the potential of your business.