A powerful strategy for testimonials

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on September 16, 2009 in: Business - Plain & Simple, Freelancing

When presenting your product or service for sale, a testimonial can go a long way. Testimonials can show a potential buyer how a previous buyer has been impacted by your offering, and I’ve even seen circumstances where they were the tipping point between “I might buy” and “I will buy”.

When we have testimonials, we can present them in online and offline formats and create a powerfully convincing “chorus” of happy customers. Testimonials are useful, multi-purposed, high value, and convincing. They really are ideal marketing tools.

But how do you get testimonials? And what do you do with them?

If you’re a freelancer on sites like Guru or Elance, there is a feedback loop built right into the system, encouraging each party to leave feedback. I’ll admit it’s not a perfect system but it’s pretty good (after all, not every business encourages that level of feedback). If you’re a freelancer on there, though, you need to do something with your feedback. Take it from that site and repost it on your blog or website, for example, or add it into your printed portfolio.

If you’re on LinkedIn, you can request recommendations from people. This might not be as nice as having unrequested testimonials coming in but it can be a nice way to get testimonials, especially if you’re new in business but have previous colleagues who would be happy to speak kindly about you.

Everyone loves to get testimonials, and even more so when they’re voluntarily given (rather than requested), but they don’t always come to us in a useful form. It’s not easy (or even very nice) to go back to a client and say “Hey, can I reword your testimonial because it had run-on sentences that barely made any sense.”

This problem has been effectively solved by Rhonda Hess, a coaches’ coach, who shows us just how to get LOTS and LOTS of really useful testimonials. Ms. Hess might be a coach to coaches, but her testimonial “system” is enormously powerful for anyone – not just coaches. If you own any kind of small business or professional practice (or big business for that matter), this is the system to use.

First, read her blog post “How to Get High Impact Testimonials from Coaching Clients” (and remember, she’s writing to coaches but I’d advise that lots of small business owners can discover real value with this technique. Read the blog first then come back here and continue reading my blog to see how I’d recommend implementing the idea.

… Good post, right? I thought so, too. Now here is how I would implement the idea:

Second, set up a database where you can collect feedback from your clients. Do so consistently (for example, spend a moment after every interact with a client to see if there is a bullet point you can add to the database.

Third, from time to time (perhaps at the end of a quarter or after a client has bought a product from you or whatever a place in your sales cycle that makes sense), have your assistant compile the bullet points for a client and draft testimonials according to Rhonda Hess’ parameters. Then send them to the client. Believe me, you’ll get more testimonials than you’ll know what to do with!

Happy Blogging!

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