Recipe for Smokin’ Testimonials

by Tim Francis on March 3, 2012

Customers are so battered and bruised by advertisements these days.  Don’t you feel the same way?

And we’ve all been burned enough that our innocence is gone, our BS-radar is finely tuned, and it takes a lot more to win us over.

Make no mistake – customers want to trust you – they just can’t shake that salesman – a real wolf in sheep’s clothing – that ripped ’em off a few months ago.  You seem so nice and trustable.  But – then again – so did he…

Third Party Proof – Without Asking – Trumps All

When a friend says “Hey – have you seen (x) movie?  It’s awesome,” that’s the most powerful kind of referral, or word-of-mouth.  It’s 3rd party, and your friend wasn’t asked to say anything.  They were inspired because the movie really wowed them.

The way you make that happen amongst your customers is – well – by wowing them too.  And that’s why online reviews are so powerful these days.  Sites like Yelp.com exist to be that 3rd-party place to capture customer thoughts without the influence of the business that sold them.

If you’ve ever bought anything on Amazon.com you probably checked out the reviews from people who have already bought.

The Next Best Thing – Testimonials

Short of asking happy customers to review us on these sites – which is legit and in-bounds – it’s fairly tough to generate this kind of marketing for yourself.

So let’s talk about the next best thing – the testimonial. Not just any testimonial, though, cuz there’s lots of lame, vague, useless testimonials out there.  Instead, let’s work to generate Smokin’ Testimonials!

When clients work with me, this is what I tell them….

Recipe for Smokin’ Testimonials

Can you round up 5 testimonials from happy customers?  Ideally the tesitmonials are:

1) Short
2) Specific
3) Spicy / hook-ey
4) Conversational

Examples of Testimonials

For example – BAD:

  • “XYZ Homes really helped us achieve the home that we had envisioned for our family and provided an outstanding housing solution!”
    (Gross, useless)

Here’s a couple winners from my friend’s business:

  • “I have lost 25 lbs. in 4 weeks.  I’m 53 but feel like a new man.”
    (short, conversational, super specific, somewhat of a hook – “I’m a new man”)
  • “…with his help we smashed through those jail walls and I knew there was hope for me once again.”
    (short, conversational, not very specific, but TONS of hook – “smash through those jail walls”)

…those kinds of testimonials are substantially more powerful.  When asking your customers for testimonials, I encourage you to flat-out tell people that you want these 4 qualities.

Testimonial Negotiation

And it might be a process of “testimonial negotiation”…. they may submit something, and you might summarize it in a shorter version and ask them if they will approve it.  That’s what I mean by testimonial negotiation.

The more of these that you can round up, the more powerful everything becomes, from website to other sales materials, etc.  If you can get minimum 5 that would be awesome.

Update – Nov 23 2012…

Listened to an interview with Drs. Glenn and Sharon Livingston, and really, REALLY liked what they said about testimonials.  They said a good testimonial should:

  • Speak in outcomes – what they got
  • Have emotion – usually enthusiasm
  • Support the product’s USP
  • Mentions specific results

Hope that helps!

Tim :)

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