how to use testimonials to grow your business
By Pam Lontos
Which are you more likely to believe: a company representative telling you how great the company’s product or service is, or a recommendation from another person about how it worked for him or her?
If 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 floral 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 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, that fear is minimized. Therefore, testimonials are a great way of influencing others to feel comfortable about buying your products or services.
Note: A testimonial that simply says what a wonderful company you have or how nice you are is not saying anything meaningful for the reader.
Unfortunately, few business owners 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 might 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 products, services or shop. 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. Because 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, service]. 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 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 show specifically what results the person experienced from your products or services. 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 pagelong testimonial, edit out any words that don’t directly address the end result he or she received from your product or service. 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. Often, the more words you take out, the stronger the testimonial becomes. Also, it’s easier to read and will stand out more.
• Include a name and title when possible. Rather than attribute your testimonial to “John S., Nebraska,” 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, Nebraska.” 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, 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 do it personally. Other marketing avenues that should feature your testimonials include your website, brochures, direct-mail pieces, postcards, billboards, newsletters and 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 place it in a binder. Keep the binder 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. Post them on the walls throughout your store or in your office. Again, highlight the best parts so your customers can easily see the benefits.
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 customers 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. She founded PR/PR Public Relations and is a past vice president of sales for Disney’s Shamrock Broadcasting, where she increased sales 500 percent.
Ms. Lontos 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) 522-8530, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.pamlontos.com.