In my latest newsletter that was released yesterday, I talked about how customer testimonials were “hidden gold” for a business.
A business may spend a thousands of dollars on advertising but everyone knows that word of mouth is the best kind you can get. Why? Because people trust those they know well, which could be a family member, a friend, or a co-worker.
Social media is a perfect vehicle for sharing reviews and opinions about businesses. But you also can take advantage of these opinions by soliciting them from your current customers.
All you have to do is ask.
Prepare for your request by defining what you want
It’s important to remember your business’ mission statement at this point and your USP (Unique Selling Proposition).
What do you want your business to be known for?
Your Unique Selling Proposition is a promise you make to your customers and clients.
The concept of the USP was developed in the 1940’s as a theory to explain why certain advertisement campaigns worked. The term was developed by television advertising pioneer Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates & Company. In his book, Reality in Advertising, Reeves lamented that the USP was widely misunderstood and defined it in three parts, summarized here (emphasis mine):
- Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer—not just words, product puffery, or show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader: “Buy this product, for this specific benefit.”
- The proposition must be one the competition cannot or does not offer. It must be unique—either in the brand or in a claim the rest of that particular advertising area does not make.
- The proposition must be strong enough to move the masses, i.e., attract new customers. (source: Wikipedia)
The reason it’s so important to know your USP is because you want your customer testimonials to match and support it.
Let’s say you’re an auto repair shop and your USP is that you’re honest, fast, and affordable.
You then would want at least three testimonials in your ad to support those three claims.
One would say something like “This is the most honest repair shop I’ve ever dealt with. Joe quoted me what needed to be fixed and repaired it within the estimate, plus he didn’t try to scare me into more repairs.”
The next: “Joe’s Auto Repair is so quick that my repair only took four hours while the other repair shop said I’d have to wait a week.”
And the next: “I can’t believe how affordable Joe’s Auto Repair is, and believe me, I shopped around. Every other repair shop wanted to charge me an arm and a leg for my brakes but Joe came in at 40% lower than everyone else. You just can’t beat that.”
And these testimonials are more powerful if you can have them signed with names and locations, and with a photo.
How to ask for a testimonial
If you contact a customer and ask for a testimonial without giving any guidelines, you’ll likely end up with something like this:
“XYZ company is great. The people are really nice and I received prompt service.”
Now nothing is wrong with prompt service, but overall, this is a very generic testimonial. It says nothing specific about the customer’s experience. In short, it’s boring and not very compelling.
When you ask for a testimonial, it’s a good idea to give your customer a few guidelines to help them write something more specific. You can offer guidelines like this:
- What problem were you experiencing?
- What problems did you have with other solution providers?
- Why did you choose this business?
- Did anything about the product or service pleasantly surprise you?
- What were your results?
Or, you can keep it super-simple and ask this:
What was your life like before using this product or service and what was it like after using it?
The point is, you want to highlight the struggle or frustration that your customer had when trying other alternatives to your product or service. To do that, you need to flesh out his experience before he came to you.
What works best are stories of unexpected success, life-changing discoveries, and time-saving or money-saving results.
And such stories need to be summarized in a few sentences. A testimonial is a snippet of someone’s experience, so the words have to be carefully chosen.
But once you have a polished testimonial, you’ll find it to be one of the most effective sales techniques for your marketing, whether it appears on your website or in a sales letter mailed to a prospect.
People’s ears and eyes perk up when they see a testimonial. If you’re trying to establish your credibility in an industry, then having thought-leader testimonials can really rocket your response rate.
Spend some time with your customer list and then send an email requesting a testimonial from your repeat clients. You too may discover that you’ve had “hidden marketing gold” all along.
Photo credit: akk_rus / Foter.com / CC BY