As a business coach, it’s interesting how many businesses I come across who don’t have many (or any) testimonials. I see nothing on their website or in their marketing. I ask if they have a process for consistently asking for a testimonial, review or recommendation and so often the answer is no.
So why do I go on and on about testimonials? Let’s look a little deeper:
Why ask for them?
When you say “My business is great and I provide the best service in the world” what does the other person think? Probably a range of things from “Well aren’t you conceited” to “Everyone says that”. As business owners, we do need to blow our own trumpet at times, but what’s even better is when someone else does it for us. A client (or several) saying how wonderful you are is very powerful. Online if you see a directory with dozens of services listed, and you see many with no ratings, a few with 5 star ratings (but only based on 1 or 2 reviews) then when you see the 5 star rating based on 5, 10 or dozens of reviews – you’re looking more closely at that business. People check out a business before they work with it and often before they even give them a call. Having a band of raving fans makes it easier for someone considering your services to either buy, pick up the phone or sign up. Reviews give us credibility, trust and historical proof of quality and service. In some ways, it’s almost a form of a guarantee. People feel safer buying from a business with heaps of rave reviews.
Why give them to others?
As a business coach (and I practice this myself) I encourage clients to also give referrals, reviews and testimonials. There are two main reasons. The first is that if you give, others are more likely to return the favour. How can you ask everyone else to do you a favour when you never do one for anyone else? The main reason, however, is that there is an actual strategy in it. If you give a Goggle Plus (G+) review to others, you actually earn “brownie points” with your own G+ ranking. Also, when you give a review you are ‘riding on the coattails’ of someone else’s marketing efforts. Whether it be G+, Facebook, LinkedIn, True Local – you’re being seen. Now one huge thing here – do NOT give reviews, recommendations or endorsements to anyone you wouldn’t stand up in court, hand on heart, and recommend them. If providing via email then I will often add my website to the end, and I ask that my name and website is included. Make sure you only give true, genuine and authentic testimonials. This is your reputation.
What is the BEST testimonial?
The one which is a bit longer and written (or said) with passion. The ideal testimonial is a video (if the person is articulate on camera) or otherwise a written one with their full name and a picture. We know it’s a genuine testimonial and not one written by the business owner.
A few years back I was looking at testimonials of a real estate agent. He has half a dozen really great ones, well-written and similar in tone. All the names were unspecific – ie A Smith – Capalaba or B Thompson – Cleveland. In fact, I said to him “Did you write them yourself?” He was super offended, but reality is that I was asking what probably others were thinking (but not game to ask).
The other aspect of a great testimonial is one which outlines what their problem was, how that was affecting them, what the transformation was and the outcome. How did you change that person’s life or business? What did you achieve? A 34% increase in profit, or “achieving in months what others had not achieved in years” or some other specific outcome. Being a nice person is great, but it’s even more powerful to be great at customer service AND achieve an awesome outcome.
How to ask for one?
Whilst you want to systemise your process, don’t make it look standardised. Make it look personal – even if an email “Jane, would you do me a favour please?” People are unsure about ratings, so I even say something like “ … a 5 star rating would be wonderful … “ Remind them to mention that pain you alleviated or problem you solved and discuss the outcome. One of mine talked about having to put on two more staff because of all the extra work I’d helped them gain.
Now the important thing here is to make it EASY for the person to action the testimonial. Don’t tell them to go to your website and do a testimonial, or hop onto your G+ profile and provide a review. Make it easy! Give them the link to each of these. They don’t have to search, they just do a single click! Remember if you want to focus on one thing, send that, or give people two links and say that the first would be best, but if they are not on that system, then the second option would also be very much appreciated. Don’t expect people to do 3 or 4 reviews. I had one fellow ask me to do four, yes he provided me the links, but seriously – that was far too much!
Finally, be sure to show SUITABLE appreciation. Not just a “Thanks” reply via email. This review will potentially bring you in heaps of business, so muster up a little enthusiasm and send them a decent and suitably glowing email of appreciation, or better yet, a thank you card in the mail would be a super pleasant surprise. I think I’m the only person who does that, but gosh, don’t people say how nice it was to receive.
Where to use them?
Everywhere! All the obvious places of course; your website, online listings, social media profiles, flyers, brochures – but what people forget about is things like Proposals and Quotations. I also recommend to my clients to keep them all in one place, a library of sorts, so that even if one is not suitable for something now, it might be suitable for something later.
If the testimonial is a bit long-winded, then you can take parts of it, as long as the message/context is not charged. The exception would be if the person said it’s not to be edited whatsoever and must be used in its entirety. Also if the testimonial comes to you with incorrect spelling or really poor grammar, then I will fix that in a minor way. I do this out of respect to the person giving it to me but I am not changing or rewriting their testimonial. Usually, the correction is just a character or two.
Finally, only use in your marketing or online if you have permission or it was published online, such as a Facebook Review. If someone wrote you a private email saying how wonderful you are, do not just take that and put it online. It was given to you privately. Instead, respond back thanking them for their kind words and ask would it be ok to use those kind words in your marketing.
On that note, if you are a regular reader of my articles and enjoy reading my blogs, then I’d like to invite you to write a review or testimonial by clicking on either of the following two links:
Or if you want to keep it easy, just drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be super appreciative. : ) Make a spectacular day! D.