How to Profit From Testimonials…
Even With No Testimonials!


So far in this series, we’ve discussed why testimonials are so powerful, how to collect testimonials with my “SPURF” system, and 10 ways to make your testimonials work harder.

But what if you don’t have testimonials? What if you need other ways to give your credibility a boost?

No problem.

Yes, testimonials are a great way to support and prove the claims in your copy. They also engage the “bandwagon” effect–the more people doing it, the more acceptable it is.

However, testimonials aren’t the only way to accomplish this. Once you understand the underlying principle that makes testimonials work (other people like it so you’ll like it too), you can find endless ways to build customer confidence.

Here are some of the most effective:

  • Use indirect testimonials. List businesses using your products or services. Or list the states or countries in which you do business, the industries you serve, the percentage of Fortune 500 companies you work with, or the types of professionals who trust you.
  • Show pictures of people using your product or service. An action picture can simultaneously show what you’re selling, show the kind of people who use it, and show benefits. Seeing is believing.
  • Provide case histories of some of your best customers or clients. Studies show that tangible case histories can be more effective than statistics. Simply write up an account of how someone solved a problem or derived a benefit. Before and after descriptions are particularly effective.
  • Mention how long you’ve been in business. “Since 2001.” This is a subtle indication of popularity. What is impressive here is relative to your business. If you’re a blogger, being in business five years makes you an old timer. If you’re running an offline business, five years makes you an infant.
  • Tout the number of products sold. “More than 5,000 satisfied customers!” It always helps to keep good records. Dig through your sales statistics and see what figures you can come up with. You might have to estimate, but make it reasonable and believable. And be sure you have data to support your claim.
  • Display the number of customers or clients you serve. My own claim is that I’ve worked with “over 200 clients.” McDonald’s built an empire by displaying on their signs a running count of the number of burgers they sold. It’s now in the billions.
  • Warn customers about limited product. “Supplies are limited.” This shows popularity plus scarcity, another powerful human motivator. Be careful. If you cry wolf, people will eventually stop believing you.
  • Say how long your product or service has been a bestseller. “America’s leader in cell phone ring tones since 1998.” This says popularity, quality, and consistency. This can often be more effective than just saying how long you’ve been around.
  • Cite information on your market leadership. “The #1 pomegranate pie maker in Ohio!” Being first or tops in your market is an unbeatable claim. If you can’t be the first to start your type of business, come up something you are first at.
  • Reveal the seasonal demand of your product or service. “Hurry! Easter is our busiest season!” Not only does this show public acceptance, it also overcomes inertia and can encourage early orders. A good example is the rush to buy the latest fad toy during the holidays.
  • Show important or well-known people using your product or service. This invokes the “halo” effect, connecting the good feeling people have for the celebrity to your wares. Just make sure you have permission.
  • Display a seal of approval. You’ve probably seen approval seals from Good Housekeeping, Consumer Reports, or other well-known organizations. If there’s an industry group your business is affiliated with, find out what it takes to get permission to use their approval notice.
  • Cite favorable reviews. Third-party information is always powerful. Some products are lucky enough to get reviews spontaneously, but as a rule you must notify people of your product or service and suggest a review. Don’t be shy.
  • Cite mentions in the media. Newsworthy products and services are more trusted. If you get a favorable mention, you can quote it. Otherwise, you can list media coverage. This is an argument for a good public relations effort.
  • Associate your product or service with respected magazines. “As seen in Widgets Today Magazine.” List the magazines you advertise in to show public approval of your product or service.
  • Associate your product or service with respected media. “As seen on TV.” Television is considered very credible. If you appear there, you have instant credibility. List the networks your advertisements have appeared on.
  • And that concludes this series on testimonials. I hope you’ve found something here that will inspire you and help you sell more stuff.

About the Author: Dean Rieck is a leading direct marketing copywriter. For more copywriting and selling tips, sign up for Dean’s FREE direct response newsletter or subscribe to the Direct Creative Blog.

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Reader Comments (39)

  1. says

    I think testimonials are a good way just to make people read your information. And I know when I have put testimonials up that more people decide to read my blog post. I think it has something to do psychologically. They see the other people like your information so they end up deciding to read it.

  2. says

    I use to book weddings at a flower shop. I found that when the brides called to schedule an appointment, I would need a moment to collect myself, gather a calendar, etc. Instead of saying, “Could you please hold?” I said, “What’s the date of the event? Allow me to see if the date is still available.” Of course, the date was usually still available, but by saying this there was a new urgency in the appointment. Once I started, bookings went up.

  3. says

    Dean, thanks for these great ideas. I found myself saying, “Oh… DUH!” to myself quite a lot as I read through them. This one’s going into the swipe file.

  4. says

    What about a really in direct testimonial if you are a totally new product? Talk about how people have gained benefits of a similar product.

    For instance say you have a product for low carb dieters. No one has used your product, so you have no testimonials. But you could say, “Millions of people have lost weight on low carb diets. We do that and more.”

    Tells the user you’ll at least do as well as the base product that has worked, been testified to.

  5. says


    Yes that works. I’m creating a mailing for a prostate remedy. The copy talks about how “similar” formulas are used by men in Europe. Also discusses the ingredients and how each is proven by research.

  6. says

    That’s a terrific list with some great ideas, many of which seem like commonsense after reading the list but certainly weren’t before. I think many of these can actually be more effective than direct testimonials, which bring with them a measure of uncertainty and distrust. Thanks!

  7. says

    This post is worthy enough to be printed out and placed on my fridge!

    Thanks for posting all these suggestions.

  8. says

    Asking for testimonials from clients is a must for every freelancer. But are you doing it right? Receiving a testimonial of “Such ‘n such is great!” says nothing.

    Instead ask for details… like this:

    “What has my services helped you achieve through the [x product]? I am looking for success stories from customers like you. If you have a success story to share, please summarize it or give testimonial.”

    99.99 percent of my clients obliged.

  9. says

    Swipping these with a smile. Thanks again Dean.

    Your second tip made me think of product placement in film which is a testimonial on steroids maybe…Woody Allen in a smart car in Scoop, James Bond in an Astin Martin…

  10. says

    Thanks for the blog.

    There are some points that I have to think about, but one point I already applied.
    In my site I said about number of years of total experience of the team and total of all the progects we did, but didn';t think about the number of clients. I’ve put in on the site and now I like it more.


  11. says

    I just saw something like this on a website. It was for a newer type of product that I may have been skeptical about purchasing. It said, “Over 200,000k products have been ordered.” This felt reassuring, if that many people bought it, how risky could it be…

  12. says

    Great post – I loved the sheer amount of tips given. Often I see a list of tips, and it’s at most 3 mediocre ideas. Saying how many have sold is a great idea.

    Also – display a phone number prominently – at the top of every page. People feel comfortable knowing youa re easy to contact.

  13. says

    Dean, some great points which we see everywhere but need to be reminded as small business entrepreneurs that these tools are available to us as well.

    Also, for new businesses which may not have actually done any “work” for clients/customers yet but may have given their clients great advice and left a great impression with them, could ask for a “testimonial” on working with your company.

  14. says

    Great tips. Definitely some good ideas to gather testimonials.
    And @Writer Dad thats a great way too to keep the customers and make them feel like you are very popular and busy and that way good in what you do. They will feel that if they don’t book it now, the next time they call you may not have the date available. Thats a great way.

  15. says

    Appreciate the abbreviated list. It’s a keeper.

    I don’t know if anyone else has had the “marketing” problem of changing names when they were married…testimonials really helped to link my old identity to the new name.

    A good testimonial, even if it’s really old, can solve a problem down the road. Start a collection. Hold them in safe keeping.

  16. says

    Excellent article, this will help me with my businesses. Certainly testimonials have a good impact when you are going to get more customers.

  17. says

    Well said Dean!

    I agree there are alternate ways, but nothing compares to the social proof that comes with a customer who has used your product vouching for it. The more raw and natural the testimony the more effective. Getting real customer testimonies is as easy as approaching thought leaders or early adopters. Sending off a free copy of the product if they agree to provide a testimony in return. Positive testimonies add credibility, negatives ones are great for feedback – valuable market research. This works best with low value items & info products. Does not work for high value items.

    For sites, I agree with you on the fact that until they get their first few good testimonies, they should use the other methods that you have suggested. They’re great for adding credibility, validity and emotional triggers.

    Anyway, you are definitely on my blog roll now. Good to see blogs like this around.

    Simon – EventsListed

  18. says

    Testimonials are a great source of free traffic. While it won’t bring you loads and loads of it, I am a firm believer in giving a quick testimonial in return for a couple unique visits to my website for free. You can’t beat that!

  19. Alex says

    i agree with you on everything except with the “as seen on tv” label. With all the crappy products sold on infomercials seeing the “as seen on tv” label on goods usually alerts me not to buy that product.

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