7.5 Tips To A Better Testimonial

by Dawn Martinello on April 10, 2011

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I like to watch people in the grocery store. Especially in the funky fruit aisle. They find the strangest looking fruit and pause in front of it to admire the oddity. They pick it up and smell it, shake it, and knock on it before setting it back down. You can tell they really want to try the expensive, exotic piece of fruit but they’re skeptical.

Will it be good? I wonder what it tastes like? How do you eat it? What the hell is it?

What do you suppose would happen if I walked up to the young gal who was ogling that fruit and explained to her that it was an Indonesian Rambutan. Well at least it has a name now. I’d be willing to bet dollars to funky fruit that if I told her that you peel that crazy looking fuzzy shell off to find a soft, kind of chewy and mild tasting white flesh that is similar to a lychee she’d feel much more comfortable about buying one.

Y’see, when someone gives you their honest thoughts about something – whether it’s fruit or a business or a product – it makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. We’re a naturally skeptical breed and testimonials help to toss the risk factor out the window.

What’s this got to do with your business? Glad you asked. I’m going to assume you have testimonials on your site already. If you don’t, get them – and I mean now!

If you don’t have them yet because you haven’t served anyone or sold a product … well, there’s ways around that too and you should give me a jingle. Okay, so you have a rocking site, fabulous offers, and a handful of testimonials sprinkled around your site. Why aren’t you selling anything? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it could be your testimonials.

People gravitate to people who are like them.

If you see any of your testimonials here, you’ll definitely want to work with the tips below to re-create something a little more beneficial while still maintaining the clients views on your product or service.

1. DON’T BE VAGUE - people want a somewhat beefy testimonial. Not 10 pages long. Just beefier than “your service was great”.

2. REEL IT IN
– have you ever wondered if someone’s exclamation point got stuck on their keyboard????!!!!!!! Because everything you do is so great!!!!!

3. DON’T FUDGE
– don’t use a fake picture to make your clients look a certain way and by golly don’t make up a testimonial. Consumers can sniff them out a mile away.

So now you know what NOT to do, but you still need to know how to get a good testimonial.

SHAZAM! Here’s another 4.5 tips on getting a better testimonial.

1. ASK. Yep, that’s what I like to call a BAZINGA moment. You don’t realize just how many people don’t bother to even ask their clients for a testimonial.

2. Have a short list of questions for your client to ask. There are 2 really good reasons you want follow this rule.

  • Your client may not be much of a writer and may be facing writers block.
  • You’re trying to construct powerful testimonials (remember #3 in the don’t do’s?). In either case, you want a testimonial that says screams BUY THE FREAKY FRUIT!

3. Consider calling your client for a testimonial rather than asking them to write one out. This is great for the same two reasons listed above, but you’ll also look super cool if you have a video testimonial or an audio testimonial.

4. If you need help coming up with your own questions to ask, try juicing up these generic questions to suit your style and business:

  • What is the one thing you liked best about Widget Company?
  • Before you bought our service/product, what did you think of the company or the product?
  • How did your perception of the service/product change after you became a happy customer?
  • What benefits did you or your company see after becoming a customer?
  • Would you recommend a friend or colleague?
  • Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Bonus mini tip - you may find it easier to ask your clients to fill in the blank.

Instead of asking what they liked best about your company, ask them to fill it in: The one thing I liked best about Widget Company is ______________________.

Sometimes a small shift in how you present the question makes all the difference.

Wondering if your testimonials have the right stuff? Lay it on me below.

Photo by JessGonacha

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dawn Martinello April 13, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Thanks Meagan. Getting a testimonial means being able to present it in a way that makes sense to the client. If you have a writer for a client, well then you’re set. Some folks do terrible when they know they’re being taped. And yes, if you do piece together bits from their words, having the final piece approved by them is most essential.

Thanks for stopping in and adding that great tidbit.
xo

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2 Meagan April 13, 2011 at 2:07 pm

I really liked what you said about asking your customer questions about your product in order to get a testimonial from them.

I think a lot of times people just don’t know what to say. They may like your product, but putting the words together & giving you a great testimonial can be difficult. By asking them questions, you can piece their answers together to form a legitimate testimonial. Of course I’d email them with the finished testimonial for their approval before posting it, but this way it takes the stress off of them.

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3 Elise Adams April 11, 2011 at 6:52 pm

It does give me a basket of ideas! Thanks so much. I LOVE the tip about asking how my clients overcome their own reticence or worries! And specific benefits or cost value are also great question ideas! Often clients will ask me what I’m looking for in a testimonial so these questions will be a great gift back to them, in helping ease their mind as they let me know how I’ve helped them.

One other benefit of all this give-and-take is that it helps me serve my clients better…so I don’t feel as if I’m asking for praise as much as a helpful critique. This helps me get over any hesitation I have to ask for feedback.

Thanks again for your very helpful post…I’ll definitely stop back by with an update as things move along!

~elise~

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4 Grace Quantock April 11, 2011 at 5:32 pm

This is wonderful – thank you so much. Useful information concisely and effectively expressed. Also so timely as one of my tasks this week is to collect testimonies. The ones I have at the moment are here (in our current home while new website set up) : http://basicmissions.com/?page_id=1422
Can’t wait to see more of your writing here! Grace xx

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5 Dawn Martinello April 11, 2011 at 7:51 pm

This is a wonderful start to the testimonials Grace. Your healing boxes also put you in close proximity to your clients hearts so you’ll get stellar testimonials every time. Like Elise, be sure to try to ask your clients specific questions so that you can try to quell the fears of anyone who comes to your site.

xo
D

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6 Grace Quantock April 14, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Thanks Dawn, I will do, I am going to come up with a list of questions around things worries clients may have (price, new product, effect etc) and ask clients to include the answers to these in the testimonials. Thanks once again, Grace xxxx

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7 Elise Adams April 11, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Great tips…thanks so much. I don’t have too much trouble asking for (and receiving) testimonials. Possibly this is because my clients feel quite personally acquainted with me and are very grateful for my services.

What I do find more challenging is targeting different audiences/fears/solutions in my testimonials because I don’t want to put words in my clients mouth. Any suggestions?

The other difficulty is getting testimonials for the more emotional/private client issues…since to these clients confidentiality is very important. Any suggestions for this?

My testimonials page is found at http://adamsorganizing.com/testimonials/

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8 Dawn Martinello April 11, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Elise, you’re in a unique situation. You work so intensely close with your clients that it does create a more unique ‘friendship’ rather than a purely business relationship. That has translated very nicely for you when it comes time to get a testimonial.

As I read through your testimonials, the one thing I noted was that it made me feel very secure that you’re good at what you do. But, there are lots of things that potential customers may get hung up on – like the price, or the self consciousness of having someone come into their close quarters.

So here’s what I’d do – and none of it is going to put any words into your customers mouth. You just need to ask the right questions. You could start with asking what were your initial concerns about hiring me? What made you change your mind?

Another thing you can do is ask more specifically about benefits of your service. Let’s be honest, testimonial pages are all glowing, right? We just need to get new ways of phrasing “you’re great Elise”. This is your ticket to ask your clients how things have changed since working with you.

I hope this gives you a basket of ideas. Feel free to stop back and let us know how it turns out!
xo

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9 Satya April 11, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Hi Dawn, for some clients it helps to just get them on the phone or Skype, and ask them the questions in person. You’ll have to record it, of course.

Twitter testimonials for customers are great too!

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10 Heather Allard April 11, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I love Twitter testimonials, too! And if you have a Wordpress site, you can use Jeff Sarris’s awesome plugin “Tweet-stimonials”. http://www.tweetstimonials.com/

Heather

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11 Jeff Sarris April 11, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I’ve heard good things about that plugin too ;) hehe

Thanks for sharing! :)

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12 Heather Allard April 11, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Heehee. :D

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13 Dawn Martinello April 11, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Satya (love that name) – you’re right. Getting a client on a skype call/video is gold. You can pull nuggets from their commentary and use the dialog as well. Sometimes when you have them on the phone chatting it’s easier to come up with the words they want to say.

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14 Dawn Martinello April 11, 2011 at 10:52 am

You hit the nail on the head Michael. That’s exactly why some testimonials are not as great as others.

It looks like Perry has a great start to his testimonials. They’re beefy and give the reader a sense of what he has going for him and the company. The one thing he’ll want to remember is that when people are looking at the site, they may have different fears so he’ll want to try to gather a lot of different testimonials that highlight the solutions to the fears. Some people may be concerned about the cost, others may be concerned about the turn around time, etc, etc.

Questionnaires can be very difficult to motivate people to complete. If he’s having trouble or it’s very long, he may want to adopt the strategy most websites use to build their lists :: give away something of value to the person in exchange for taking the time to fill out the questionnaire. It could be something as simple as a cheat sheet that they could pin up in their office. And of course, gratitude goes a long, long way with our customers.

Thanks for stopping in and giving some examples Michael :)

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15 michael webster April 11, 2011 at 9:20 am

This is an important topic.

My sense is that most testimonials fail because they don’t anticipate what the reader wants to hear and then deliver on that promise.

For example, look at the testimonials for one of the IAFD’s key partners.

http://www.franchise-info.ca/suppliers/franchise-facts.html

Perry is trying to put together a wide ranging questionnaire. Questionnaires are a pain to fill out, so he has to motivate people to believe that in the end their single contribution will add up to great value. Has he done it with his testimonials? What do you think? I think that it is a great start.

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16 Dawn Martinello April 11, 2011 at 9:18 am

You’re definitely right Liz. When you’re armed with what a strong testimonial needs to look like, you can ask your customers and clients the right questions. Sometimes a client might think they may not get enough value for their money, but if they see a testimonial from someone else that says “I was worried about the cost until I took a chance and I received $10,000 in new work that month” it takes a lot of the fear away from the choice to buy from you.

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17 Liz April 11, 2011 at 8:53 am

Good tips. Testimonials are something almost everyone has, I’ve wondered how effective they really are. I guess the key is to get the right words on the page that will appeal to your target.

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