Testimonials – Good vs. Bad and how to get them.
Not all testimonials are created equal. Done well and used the right way, a strong testimonial can be an absolute gold mine and drive tremendous sales to your business. Poor testimonials can be ineffective – or even turn people away.
“If they’re offering a bottle for free, it must be good!” – Jean from Springfield
“It was better than CATS, I’d go see it over and over again!” – Joe S.
Everybody’s run across a product that you suspect is sketchy anyway and a questionable testimonial is usually enough to confirm that you want to stay as far away from it as you can get.
There’s the bad testimonial:
They sound fake, contrived, stretched, made up, over the top, outrageous. Straightforward and sincere is difficult to make up and most people can tell when something doesn’t sound right. If you’re making stuff up, you’re not helping yourself. Even if you’re not making it up, if it sounds over the top, people aren’t likely to believe it.
“Prior to getting started with the Elite Team, I was a cable guy working horrible hours, now that I am a part of the Elite Team I made 19,000 my FIRST 2 weeks. This program is awesome!” Talk about making some real money!
-Jared McCart, Valparaiso, IN
The ineffective testimonial:
The testimonial is vague or too general. It’s nice that the product or company is great, but what did it do – exactly? Why was it was great? And most importantly, as a potential buyer how would it apply to me?
“Very useful site, attractive, easy to use.” (From BetterPhoto.com)
Basecamp is just awesome
“That’s all I have to say. Basecamp is just awesome. A special place in heaven will be reserved for you guys.”
-Anthony Howard, creative director
The compelling testimonial:
The best testimonials are those that are specific and focus on how the customer was better off, more effective, empowered, etc. by your product or service. The compelling testimonial is not focused on how great you or your company / product / service is.
Remember – with all marketing, it’s not what you or your product or service can do, it’s what your product or service does to solve your customer’s problems.
Basecamp has totally changed my business… I can’t think of any business that couldn’t benefit from using Basecamp
“Just a quick note to say that after just 3 days, Basecamp has totally changed my business. My clients have a visible confidence in their projects that was hard to perceive before and my time-management skills have improved significantly. A big thank you to all your hard work and persistance through the development process. Of course I use this for my graphic design and web development business, but I can’t think of any business that couldn’t benefit from using Basecamp.”
-Ben Potter, BPD Studios
In some cases they may not be ‘traditional’ testimonials – on Constant Contact they use Customer Examples and success stories that not only illustrate why and how they use the product, but what specific benefits they got out of it. See an example here: Constant Contact.
There’s a great article by the writers of Creating Passionate Users that was written last year on this topic – you can find that article here. Another good article from Grokdotcom that takes a similar focus can be found here.
How do I get Testimonials?
Finally now that you know what to look for, how do you get the right kind of feedback from your customers? I ran across this article from the NFIB (National Federation of Independent Businesses) that had some good suggestions both on what a good testimonial is and how to get them.
You may be fortunate enough to get unsolicited feedback, but that’s difficult to count on.
Essentially it boils down to asking for them. If you know a customer is pleased with your product or service, ask them for a testimonial. Not all of them will follow through, but you really only need 1 or 2 really good examples to get you started.
It might be worth your while to do a case study with 1 or 2 of your clients and have a 3rd party interview them to pull out the details and the background on how you’ve helped your customers. (Note – a 3rd party is recommended because customers are likely to be more open with someone else, if you have a good relationship with the customer it may not be needed).
It can be difficult to get great testimonials, but done right and used in the right context, they can be the single most compelling marketing for your business – they should definitely be a key point of marketing for a small business owner.
Do you have any stories about testimonials – any great ones you’d like to share here?
Shawn Kinkade www.aspirekc.com