Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Great Testimonial is Like Money in the Bank

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A Great Testimonial is Like Money in the Bank
By Nancy Marmolejo, Comadre Coaching

Word of mouth referrals are perhaps the strongest way to build a business. Think of all the times you ate at a restaurant, or tried a service based on a referral from a trusted friend. Testimonials are a type of word of mouth referral, allowing your prospects and clients to hear for themselves how others enjoyed working with you.

An effective testimonial will encapsulate the client’s experience with specific examples. It will give prospects the chance to connect on an emotional level with you and your business. That emotional connection is what makes testimonials such a powerful tool.

Getting a testimonial isn’t too hard. Getting a GREAT testimonial takes a bit more thinking but delivers far more powerful results. It involves asking open ended questions and being specific. What follows is a crash course on getting great testimonials.

Ask the right questions
People need helpful structures to write great testimonials. If you ask, “Did you have a good experience working with us”, then they can answer in a single word, “yes” or “no”. That is called a closed ended question. Asking open ended questions (questions that can’t be answered with a yes or no) will open the client up to be more authentic. Here are some great examples of questions to ask (you may need to vary them based on the type of business you have):
1. What were the three best things you experienced while being our client?
2. If you were to describe your experience to a friend, how would you phrase it?
3. How did we help you reach your goals?

Make it Easy to Do
If you hand someone a postcard on their way out of your store and expect them to write you a testimonial and mail it back… well, I have some swamp land in Florida you may be interested in.
Seriously, you have to make it easy for the customer or they won’t do it. Stress that it will only take 3 minutes of their time and present it in a format that works for your client. Some people prefer email, while others may fill out a card in your store if you make it convenient. Another way is to provide a testimonial hotline where people can call and leave their message. A great service called Audio Acrobat can even take a recorded message and generate the code so you can publish it to your website.

Give a Reward
People will do things if there is a prize attached, that’s just human nature. What’s in it for the client if she takes her time and energy to write you a glowing testimonial? Offer a little incentive such as a coupon, free gift, a link back to her website, or a prize and you’ll get many more testimonials back.

Make it a PR Opportunity for the Client
Savvy testimonial writers know that by simply writing a testimonial, they can get free publicity for their businesses. Of course you’re going to include their name and website on the testimonial, so what better incentive than some increased business for them too?

Give Valid, Credible Information
Testimonials that are signed “Ana. S”, bear little credibility. But include Ana’s last name, title, company name, city and website and you’ve got a real person. Studies show that testimonials with more identifying information pull better results than the “Ana S.” variety. Once again, let your clients know that this could be a great PR opportunity for them and watch the names fill up.

Don’t Isolate Your Testimonials
Rather than create a single page called “testimonials”, sprinkle your testimonials throughout your online and written materials. Study how other business owners use them in different ways and keep those positive comments on the forefront. Share them in your newsletters or sales materials.

You have the chance to skyrocket your business with the effective use of testimonials. By keeping it simple, clear, and concise, you can get valuable information from clients that will convey the positive emotional experience people had working with you. You’ll be amazed at the results and may even find new ways to describe your business by using the words of your clients.

About the author:

Nancy Marmolejo helps dynamic entrepreneurs and leaders turn their great ideas into successful results. As the President of Comadre Coaching, she inspires people to think about the big picture and take creative approaches to problem solving. A popular commentator on creativity in business, Nancy has appeared in Latina magazine, Univision TV, the Orange County Register, Orange Coast magazine, Latino Future, Latino Perspectives, Siempre Mujer and several websites. Her articles appear on hundreds of websites and she is the publisher of the award winning ezine, The Pocket Comadre.

Visit Nancy on the web at www.ComadreCoaching.com to get her free e-Course, The 7 Secrets of Big Picture Thinkers and a free eBook, Get Creative Now!

You can also contact her by email at info@ComadreCoaching.com.