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Testimonials | Creating trust online

If you’ve been reading all the buzz about trust marketing, your head may be swimming with ideas on how to gain your prospective client’s trust with marketing materials, but not know exactly how to implement it.

In tuesday’s post Internet Trust: Creating Consumer Trust Online,  I outlined several ways to earn your prospects trust.

Today, I’m going to give you some step by step instructions on how to utilize just one of the trust factors, testimonials.

There is nothing more compelling and convincing for a prospective client, than to hear about the results and benefits of working with your company from someone who’s just like them, with the same type of needs, problems, challenges and desires; who has gotten stellar results from working with you.  When done right, testimonials go a long way to help build trust and establish credibility.

There are several kinds of testimonials. 

Unsolicited testimonials are those letters or emails you get from raving fans who are so happy with your service that they are motivated to thank you without prompting.

Solicited testimonials are ones that you ask for, but can be just as enthusiastic if you ask the customers or clients who are most appreciative of your work to share a heartfelt opinion of their experiences with you.

Obviously if you want to motivate your clients to give you testimonials, make sure that you’re always delivering value, go the extra mile to ensure that they are seeing significant results.

Testimonials come in all different varieties.  The traditional letter testimonial is the one that business owners often frame and hang in their offices.  Video testimonials are all the rage on the web now, whether using it on your own website, youtube, or facebook.

The best time to ask for customer testimonials is when they’re most happy with what you’ve provided, before that warm and fuzzy feeling fades away. For instance, if you were selling cars, you would want to ask for a testimonial before the car leaves the showroom, while it’s all new and shiny, not after it’s been parked on a NYC street, and gotten all dirty and dented.

Sometimes clients will give you a testimonial during casual conversation.  An attorney client of mine recently remarked that he was very happy with the work I had done on his website, and what a huge difference it had made in his conversion rate.  Happy clients will often compliment you or tell you how much they appreciate your work. Listen for those opportunities and simply ask them something like “may I quote you on that?”, and turn that compliment into a testimonial.

However, even if you’ve missed those opportunities already, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask your best customers if they would be willing to give you a testimonial at any time. I often suggest to my clients that they simply say that you’re updating their marketing materials and wondered if they would be willing to give you a testimonial.

The format of business testimonials can be fairly simple.  What it all boils down to, is a heart-felt sentiment in their own words, which tells a story about what their situation was before they worked with you, the problems they were experiencing, what has happened since you started to work together, and finally the most important benefits or results they have gotten from working with you.

All of this can be accomplished easily in as little as three or four sentences.

Testimonials are a great addition to any marketing materials, be it a website, brochure, email blast, etc. They can even be used during a presentation. When posting testimonials on your website, many people create a separate page or section for them which is fine, but I prefer to carefully place testimonials in some kind of text box alongside or within the copy or text of the appropriate page, so that while they’re reading the description of your work (or that practice area), that particular testimonial can lend credibility to that specific webpage without having to click on another page.

The best testimonials are written by your customers, in their own words. But let’s face it, people are busy with their own lives. If you have a great customer who is willing to give you a testimonial, but too busy to do it themselves, you can always draft it for them, based upon the comments and compliments they’ve given you, and of course send it to them for their approval before using it.

Please note: Anonymous testimonials are OK, but not half as credible as ones that your customers are willing to sign their names, company name and or location to.  However, if you do something of a confidential nature, it may be the best way to present them.

Have testimonial questions?  Contact me.

Susan Martin, Marketing Coaching.


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