Do testimonials work? I know they do, because I owe my marriage to one.
Picture a shy sixteen-year-old trainee nerd, nervously sweating in his brand new “I can’t believe it’s not wool” suit, and desperately trying to catch the eye of the pretty secretary. The stammering young man, of course, is me. The odds were long, and in fact it’s fair to say I didn’t stand a chance.
Not only was this lovely lady three years my senior (a huge obstacle at that age), she was also assistant to the Chief Executive. Just walking up to the office was a gut-wrenching flashback to those visits to the headmaster’s office from only a year or so before.
Somehow I did manage to get a date, but only through the magic of the testimonial.
Ultimately, after many failed attempts to squeak out something remarkable, I decided to switch tactics. Instead of the direct approach, I asked a mutual friend to prepare the way with a lavish dose of my most excellent attributes. Luckily, this friend ignored me and instead presented a more humble and accurate picture. This warts-and-all testimonial surprisingly clinched the deal.
What Others Say Matters Most
What does this tell us, other than the obvious reflection of my teenage dating prowess?
Testimonials are intermediated word-of-mouth marketing, and they do work when credible. In fact they work very well indeed if you work hard to get the right kind of testimonial. They can provide the much-needed social proof that tips a wavering prospect into a paying customer.
It’s hard to sing your own praises, and it rarely works when you do. In a testimonial, you have a third party saying what you might not be able to. Effective testimonials avoid hyperbole and specifically address a potential sticking point that a prospect might arrive at.
Here are five tips for making good use of testimonials:
- Don’t over-edit. Testimonials work best when they are in “real” language. Those small grammar and language quirks help the reader connect and demonstrate they are real.
- Use testimonials that fit. Place appropriate testimonials along with a particular point that you are trying to make.
- Address objections. If a prospect discovers that another customer’s worries have proved groundless, then that person is more confident to reach for the wallet.
- Never fake it. While testimonials are crucial, it’s not worth the risk to fake them. Most people have well-trained BS detectors that can smell a fake a mile away.
- Encourage specifics. Specificity works in all areas of copywriting, but is especially effective in a testimonial. Rather than “we saw a big improvement,” get your customer to state exactly what the improvement was, such as “we saw a 217% improvement.”
Ask for Testimonials
If a customer ever tells you how much they value your service or asks what they can do for you, ask them for a testimonial. In fact, even if they don’t, ask anyway! Testimonials are that valuable.
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