In the staggering clutter of marketing messages that bombard us daily, a well-crafted and compelling customer testimonial nearly always stands out. Why? Because we as consumers believe that a third-party opinion, with no obvious vested interest in a particular business, is a reliable indicator of the quality of the product or service being sold.
That’s the good news. The challenge for business owners is making the effort both to solicit and collect testimonials from satisfied customers and using them wisely as part of an overall marketing strategy.
How to collect testimonials
Think of all the ways in which you interact with your customers—online, in person, over the phone, etc. When a satisfied customer praises your product, rather than simply saying, “Thanks,” take the next step and ask for a testimonial to share with other prospective customers. In nearly every case, the satisfied customer (SC) will be only too happy to share his or her favorable opinion. The rest is up to you:
- Have you recently received a positive email or phone call? Ask the sender if you can quote from the message in your marketing materials.
- Conduct a survey/interview with SCs to get personal feedback about their customer experience.
- Invite customers to send you video testimonials (easy to do with webcams or smartphones). Lots of people enjoy expressing themselves before a camera these days and videos showing SCs actually using your product or service are the best of all!
- Ask for recommendations on LinkedIn. Monitor social media outlets for unsolicited testimonials that frequently appear on Facebook, Twitter and sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor.
- Catch an SC at the point-of-sale or contact them within the first week of purchase. The most important thing is remembering to ask!
What testimonials should say
As nice as it might be for a customer to simply say, “Your product is great!” it’s not specific enough to do your business much good. If, for example, you single yourself out for providing outstanding customer service, have the testimonial speak to that attribute. The same holds true for other unique selling propositions (low cost, same-day service, etc.). Tailored testimonials that focus on key benefits add credence in just those areas you want highlighted in your marketing efforts.
Most customers aren’t professional writers. Offer assistance in helping them express what they want to say or draft the testimonial yourself and get their approval.
Always secure an SC’s permission before using their testimonial in any marketing or advertising efforts. (This should include obtaining permission to use the name of the town/city they live in, as that increases credibility.) And be sure to send an email (or, preferably, a handwritten note) expressing your gratitude both for the testimonial itself and their permission to share it with others.
Where to use testimonials
Now that it’s time to leverage the great testimonial, don’t hesitate to consider all of your options. Adding testimonials to printed materials you hand out at your place of business or at trade events is a powerful use of this resource. More effective still is strategic placement of testimonials on your company website. You can devote a special section to these (“What Our Customers Are Saying”) and/or sprinkle them across numerous pages—such as specific product pages (if the testimonial refers to that product) or anywhere in the ordering process, where an enthusiastic review could be the tipping point for the customer’s next purchase.
Just be sure you use fairly current testimonials—quotes from satisfied customers that accurately reflect the products and services you provide today, not five years ago.
We all know the first rule of sales (Always Be Closing). When it comes to making use of testimonial from your loyal and satisfied customers, the principle should be Always Be Collecting.