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How to use testimonials to drive business growth

Testimonials can be a driver of business growth, as they create social proof of the credibility and clout of your brand. Authenticity is what takes a testimonial from good to great, and to achieve this you need to ask clients to present their praise in a meaningful way. Here’s how.

In my previous article I promised one on meaningful testimonials. I’m sure many of you recognise testimonials, when used well, give your brand clout, credibility and increased sales.

Here are some more reasons for getting testimonials you might not have considered.

  1. Social proof from delighted clientele is more powerful than purely promoting yourself.
  2. When a client gives you a testimonial they also remind themselves why they choose to buy from you.
  3. You get deeper insights into what your clients value most about you and your brand, giving you the opportunity to increase (and promote) the benefits of your product or services.

This last element has been especially helpful in the growth of my own business lately, as it’s helped me gain even greater clarity on my main point of difference; healthy promotion of others.

What makes a good testimonial great?

Many of us have become wary of the glowing testimonials that tell us how wonderful you or your business are, because we’re much more savvy to spin  Therefore the key to a memorable testimonial doesn’t lie in the amount of adjectives you receive. No, the real power is in the authentic story the testimony gives. When we read your testimonial we’re looking for truthful evidence told in a meaningful way. We want specifics and we want to know what’s truly in this transaction for us. Make it too easy; too wonderfully, fabulously brilliant and the effect is diminished.

How to gain quality testimonials?

1. Give your clients increased exposure: many media aware clients know that giving a testimonial is good for their brand, others don’t. If we’re getting objections around the testimonial it can sometimes help to remind them of this. A link to their site, their photo and logo also helps promote them if they’re happy for these to be included (they’re all powerful verifiers for the prospect too).

2. Manage expectations: some clients might be averse to having the testimonial published. You can still negotiate to use it for specific purposes (eg industry accreditations). Be sure to honour the agreement.

3.Ask for specifics in reverse: the reverse testimonial is a powerful technique I’ve learnt from Sean D’Souza. In essence it gives you a believable story. The story should be true, however the better the story is told, the more effect it has.

Here are the questions I ask of clients, slightly adapted from Sean’s:

  1. What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this?
  2. What did you find as a result of buying this?
  3. What specific feature did you like most about this?
  4. What would be three other benefits about this?
  5. How likely would you be to recommend this, and why?
  6. Is there anything you’d like to add?

Consider video. There are two ways to approach video testimonials:

  1. You can interview people with specific questions
  2. The person giving the testimonial delivers to camera. Hint: ask them to write it out first. This gives them the opportunity to structure their thoughts and promote you best.

Add testimonials to your homepage on your website. The last place testimonials should live is in a page devoted to them. Do you ever go there to find them? Most people don’t. Put them front and centre where they can be seen and on the relevant pages for the offering they support.

These are just some of the ways that testimonials increase business and how to approach getting them. How have testimonials helped your business? What challenges have you had in getting them? What have been the results in using testimonials in your business?

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Michael Neaylon

Michael Neaylon

Michael Neaylon works with brands big and small, helping them maximise their brand impact and marketing strategy for increased sales online and face to face. A speaker, coach and consultant, Michael is also the director of marketing, training and performance company, MCME. Michael is author of the book, ‘True Brand Toolkit: How to Bring in Big Money for Your Small Business,’ now in its third print run.

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