Business and Operations
How to use testimonials to grow your business
By Pam Lontos
By Pam Lontos
December 28, 2011 – Which are you more likely to believe: a company
representative telling you how great their product or service is, or a
recommendation from another person about how it worked for them?
you’re like most people, the words from a fellow consumer pull more
weight than even the best written ad copy. That’s why no matter what
product or service you’re selling, you need to use testimonials from
satisfied customers in every ad and marketing piece you create.
One of the main reasons why people don’t buy something is that they’re
fearful of making the wrong decision. So when they see that a product or
service is endorsed by someone else—someone in their same
situation—that fear is minimized. Therefore, testimonials are a great
way of influencing others to feel comfortable about buying your products
Unfortunately, few business professionals actively seek out testimonials
from their customers and clients. They mistakenly wait for people to
give them testimonials, and when they do get them, they don’t know how
to use them effectively. In reality, getting and using a list of strong
testimonials is easier than you think. The following tips will help you
get testimonials to increase your profits.
How to get them
- Choose satisfied customers who represent your target demographic.
The best testimonials are written by people who are similar to your
ideal customer. Therefore, be specific about who you solicit a
testimonial from. Look over your customer files and choose the people
who exemplify the best case scenario for your product or service. Say to
them, “I’d love for you to share your experience with product A. Would
you please write a short testimonial?” Most people will cheerfully say
yes. Since you want more happy customers just like these, let their
words sell for you.
- Offer to write the testimonial for them. Often, if someone
declines your request to write a testimonial, it’s because they’re too
busy or feel they don’t have adequate writing skills. In that case,
offer to write the testimonial for them. Simply say, “I’ll be glad to
write the testimonial for you. Just tell me what you’d like to say about
the product. You can review what I write and we can use it as is or you
can change it.” Most people will leave the testimonial as is, happy
they didn’t have to take the time to write it.
- Look through your past notes and correspondence. Chances are
you’re sitting on a pile of testimonials and don’t even know it. Go back
through your past emails and correspondence from customers and clients.
Are there a few nice sentences in some of those messages? If so, ask
the person if you can use their words in your marketing materials.
They’ll often agree.
How to write them
- Show results. Whether you write the testimonial or your customer
does, it needs to specifically show what results the person experienced
from the product or service. A testimonial that simply says what a
wonderful company you have or how nice you are is not saying anything
meaningful for the reader. A specific testimonial will speak to results,
for example: “Dr. Smith’s treatment ended my 20-year battle with
migraines.” “Joe’s contracting remodeled my kitchen for $2,000 less than
other bidders.” “Jones and Johnson CPA Firm reduced my tax liability by
30 per cent.” The more specific a testimonial is, the stronger it sells
for you. Specific testimonials take away the fear of making the wrong
decision and help people feel safe about making the purchase.
- Keep it short. Each word of the testimonial should have value.
Therefore, if someone writes you a page-long testimonial, edit out any
words that don’t directly address the end result he or she received from
your service or product. This doesn’t mean you change the meaning of
what someone writes; you simply edit out the parts that don’t contribute
to the meaning. For example, if someone writes a page about everything
your company did to help them save 30 per cent on their heating and
cooling bills, you can condense it to one sentence, as in “As a result
of ABC Company’s inspection of our home, we saved 30 per cent on our
monthly utility bill.” Often, the more words you take out, the stronger
the testimonial becomes. Also, it’s easier to read and will stand out
- Include a name and title when possible. Rather than attribute your
testimonial to “John S., Neb.” use the person’s real name, company
name, title, and/or location whenever possible, as in “John Sanders,
salesperson at Acme Company,” or “John Sanders, Omaha, Neb.” This makes
your testimonial more believable. Most people will be happy to include
their full name and other information, because the strongest human
desire is to feel appreciated and recognized. Getting their name in
print somewhere fulfills that need and is often perceived as fun.
How to use them
- Include a testimonial or two in your ads and marketing pieces.
Whether you’re doing a print, online, radio, or TV ad, be sure to
include some testimonials. For print, it’s best to have testimonials
stand alone from the text rather than try to weave them into the ad
copy. For radio and TV, either the announcer or an actor can recite the
testimonial, or if your customer is agreeable, have him or her appear in
your radio or TV spot to give the testimonial personally. Other
marketing pieces that should feature your testimonials include your web
site, brochures, direct mail pieces, postcards, billboards, newsletters,
and even social media updates.
- Create a book of testimonials. Each time you receive a kind letter
from a customer or client, highlight the key parts (the parts that
state benefits to the customer), put the letter in a clear plastic
sleeve, and compile it in a big binder. Keep this book or binder of
testimonials in your store or office for customers to browse through
while they’re waiting. Or, if your business is online, create a page
where you feature all your testimonials. There’s no limit to how many
testimonials you can include in your book or on your page.
- Frame your best testimonials. If you have a store or office, frame
some of your best testimonial letters and post them on your walls.
Again, highlight the best parts so your customers can easily see the
benefits. If you don’t get foot traffic (or if you go to your
customers), put the best testimonial letters in your “leave behind”
kit—the package of information you leave behind for the prospect.
The ultimate sales tool
The next time you’re writing copy for an advertisement or marketing
piece (and struggling with what information to include) simply go to
your past testimonials. It’s always better when someone else sings your
praises, so let your customer sell for you. The sooner you start using
testimonials in every marketing message you create, the sooner you’ll
realize that testimonials really are the ultimate sales tool.
Pam Lontos is president of Pam Lontos Consulting. She consults with
businesses and experts in the areas of sales, marketing and publicity.
Pam founded PR/PR Public Relations and is a past vice-president of sales
for Disney’s Shamrock Broadcasting, where she raised sales 500 per
cent. She is the author of I See Your Name Everywhere: Leverage the Power of the Media to Grow your Fame, Wealth and Success. For more information on her consulting services, call (407) 522-8630, email PamLontos@gmail.com, or visit www.PamLontos.com.