Testimonials help us to convince prospective customers that our product is good. It's as
simple as that. And it's a powerful marketing technique

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Testimonials as a marketing tool

Make money with Ads by Google

by Nick Robinson

Testimonials help us to convince prospective customers that our product is good. It's as simple as that. And it's a powerful marketing technique

"I hear what you say but I'm still not convinced." How often have you faced potential customers whom you know needs your product or service - and have the money to buy it? But you can't get them to go ahead with the order, because they still don't believe they will achieve the results you claim? It's your Number One sales challenge, whether you sell to companies, in people's homes or to customers in a retail store or dealership. And it's especially acute for the small business. After all, if you have only a modest track record, why should they trust you? It's always safer to buy from a big nationally known supplier!

What's the solution?
They're either saying "prove to me I can believe you" or their hesitation is covering up another, still unvoiced objection. The strongest way to handle that is to show them a testimonial. It comes from a customer just like them, who once had similar doubts but is now delighted with you. "You're absolutely right to want solid proof we can help you," you say. "You've probably heard of Brown & Co, the local [engineering firm]?"

Whatever the customer responds, continue: "Mr Brown raised a very similar point last year, but luckily went ahead with the order. Here is a letter he's just written to us." You show the customer Mr Brown's letter, on his company letterhead. It warmly recommends your company. You add "I'm sure he wouldn't mind if you contacted him. Would you like to call him now?"

In my own experience of 28 years in marketing, the customer never does place that call! Instead, his bluff being called (if it was a bluff), he'll raise his real objection: "well, I'm really not sure about the payment terms...(etc)". Now you can handle that objection and close the sale. More likely, being reassured by that third-party proof, he'll proceed with the order.

The testimonial close is powerful!
You can adapt it in nearly any situation where the prospect stalls you, even when gaining that vital first appointment. Has the prospect said "we already have a supplier," "we have no budget", "I'm too busy just now"? You reply "Mr Brown of Brown & Co had exactly the same reservations... but now he's written us a nice letter.

It confirms he gained [describe the result]. I'll show it to you when we meet. Would Monday at 10.30am or Tuesday at 3pm be better for you? (etc)" Are you a retail operation? And selling high-value products? Then a written testimonial can close the sale across the sales counter, just as effectively as in a client's office. But few retailers do it! (You should.)

Ideally, print up a wealth of such testimonials. You'll then have the right one aptly to hand, whatever the customer's situation. You can also quote snippets from them in your ads, direct mail and brochures, of course - with the customer's written permission.

Further help on this topic...
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How do you persuade your satisfied customers to give you testimonials?
Ask them! If you market to companies, tell your client that testimonials are the lifeblood of your business. Add "isn't that true of yours, too?" They'll sagely nod their head. Then say "Would you be happy to give me a testimonial I can use?" It's hard for them to say No, and you urge them to dictate it to their secretary there and then on their letterhead.

Another way is to mail a client satisfaction survey, that asks: "in the last three months, on a scale of ten, how responsive have we been to you? How well have we understood your needs? How satisfied overall are you with us?" Finally, ask "if your experience has been positive, would you care to jot a testimonial here that we can quote in our promotional materials?" Ask them to add their signed permission for you to use it.

Another idea is to draft your own ideal "testimonial"
which they need only sign, with permission for you to use. Example:
"I am happy to confirm that by hiring Brown & Co we have achieved a 30% reduction in inventory, and released a welcome amount of working capital which has repaid the company's fees several times. Signed....."
If they need encouragement, pledge a sum to a local charity for every positive endorsement they sign.

If you sell to businesses, then even tape record your client's testimonial. Ask the client to specify on tape the period you worked, the services you provided, the way you did it and the results achieved, their importance to the client, and the industry background at the time. ("In a year when our industry as a whole was working 20% below capacity, we achieved a record 43% growth in sales. Much of this success was due to the excellent work done by [you].")

Playing a tape of your client's voice warmly approving you is a far more powerful sales close than even a written testimonial - especially at a group presentation. (If the client is shy about tape recorders, use someone else's voice to dictate their written testimonial.)

Selling to consumers from a retail outlet, restaurant or dealership?
Give your customers a card. Ask them to write on it something nice about your service or products, sign it and tick a box attesting you can use it for publicity. (Thank them with a discount or small gift.) Could you even photograph the customer, smiling happily in your premises? Then display those cards in your window - and change them often! ("What our customers told us this week"). Folk will stop by to see if they know anybody mentioned there.

If they do, offer them a discount too, if they come in. They'll rush to tell the other party you've named about their odd experience - and your visibility and loyalty grow. Even give blank "testimonial" cards to your customers. Ask their friends to come in, bring the card, buy a product and give a signed testimonial. Both then get a gift! (Of course, the first customer must come back to the store to collect it. Which gives you another oportunity to sell them something...)

Could you ask customers about their affiliations with local sports, social or church groups? Then add alongside their displayed testimonial "A special welcome for all other members of Luton Church Choir [or the Luton Unix Users Group, etc]!" When they prove their membership, they can claim a gift or discount. (Reinforce this by sending Invitation cards to the group's secretary, to distribute to members. They can exchange them for a gift when they walk in.)

One bright US retailer asks customers to send him photos of themselves, when they go on holiday. They can collect a credit voucher when they return to the store - and see their photo displayed. There's a special prize if they show the store's carrier bag in the picture. The more exotic the location, the bigger the prize! (He has photos of his bag at the Great Wall of China, the Kremlin and - from a diver - 100ft under the Great Barrier Reef.) This little idea brings him thousands of repeat visitors annually - who stay to buy.

Testimonials can indeed drive your most powerful sales approaches, used imaginatively. And they cost you little or nothing to acquire!

Nick Robinson is Chairman of The Marketing Guild Ltd, which helps businesses gain more profit from their marketing budgets. Members gain FREE practical training across every key marketing skill at some 100 UK conferences every year, plus three monthly newsletters & direct access to the Guild's database of over 30,000 marketing ideas. For a free sample report '44 Ways to Improve Your Sales Letter, Ad, or Brochure' and information pack, send/fax the Guild your business card or letterhead. (Address: 1 Houghton Court, Houghton Regis, Beds LU5 5DY, UK). E-mail: help@marketing-guild.com

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