One of the most effective ways to get people who do not know you to do business with you is by sharing what the people who do know you–your current customers–have to say. If you do not have a collection of great customer testimonials, now is the time to start collecting them.
Many businesses believe that the only way to get blurbs and testimonials is to wait for customers to offer them. However, waiting for the random letter to arrive may not give you the number or type of testimonials you need. Instead, have a proactive strategy of seeking testimonials.
First, think about what benefits you offer to clients. Focus most on the benefits that set you apart from your competition. Do you serve more than one market? List the benefits and competitive edges you have in each market. Now, go about getting quality testimonials from your clients that demonstrate each of the benefits you have identified.
A quality testimonial is specific. Compare, “Acme Widgets are great,” to, “Acme Widgets saved us $50,000 in one year by reducing our down time.” The first one doesn’t tell you anything about why the customer likes Acme Widgets. It is also best if the testimonial is attributable to a specific person. If the testimonial comes from, “Robert C. Johnson, VP of Manufacturing, Big Famous Corporation, Inc.,” it has more credibility than if there is no name (or just initials) attached to it.
You may already have specific, attributable testimonials for some of the benefits you have identified. Great! Now, look for ways to get customer comments on the rest.
Start by reviewing your email and mail. Has someone sent a compliment that could become a testimonial? Think back to recent conversations with customers. Was someone enthusiastic about your product or service? Contact those customers and ask for permission to use what they said.
Still looking for more testimonials? Start contacting customers and asking them about their experiences with you. Ask why they like your products and services. Consider first approaching the clients whose opinions will have the most effect on potential customers, e.g., Fortune 500 companies, famous individuals, etc.
What if they didn’t say it quite the way you would? Edit what your customer said, and send it to them for approval. Let them know that you appreciate their comments and you made a few changes to fit available space. Or, if they gave you comments orally, say that you hope you captured their meaning. Make it clear that you are not trying to change the substance of their words. Ask them to review the testimonial and return it to you with permission to use it in your marketing. Also let them know they should specify how they want to be identified. For example, some might want you to mention their Web sites, authors always appreciate having their books mentioned, etc.
Once you have your testimonials, use them in your advertising, Web site, brochures and other marketing materials. And never stop seeking more and better testimonials.