Nothing you can say for yourself is as valuable as what customers have to say about you. That’s because people find the endorsements of actual customers more persuasive than the hype of faceless copywriters.
Every marketer has the same problem: overcoming a prospect’s fear of making a mistake. Faced with a buying decision prospects will often sit on their hands. They need to “think about it”. It’s safer to do nothing than risk making the wrong choice. In this situation smart marketers use psychology to overcome the prospect’s inertia.
You see, we are all “social creatures” with a fundamental need to be connected to others. And as social creatures we are highly susceptible to being influenced by “the herd”.
Lead the herd
“Social proof” is a psychological phenomenon described by Robert Cialdini in his bookInfluence. When people are unsure what to do in a certain situation they will often make the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation, and do what they do.
Customer testimonials are a very powerful form of social proof. A testimonial is proof your company satisfies its customers. A testimonial says, “See! Other people like you have tried it and liked it.” They dissolve scepticism and can turn a fence-sitter into a paying customer.
Where to use testimonials
There are few marketing materials that can’t benefit from the addition of a glowing testimonial. Testimonials can make attention grabbing headlines. They can be used to support and prove your marketing claims in the body copy of brochures, print ads, media releases and direct mail. They are excellent for adding credibility to your website.
How to get great testimonials
If a customer pays you a compliment – verbally or in writing – ask if you can quote them. (Always get permission to use a testimonial.) Unfortunately customers are not always forthcoming with their praise and appreciation.
So the best way to get testimonials is to simply ask for them. Ask every customer for a testimonial. Become a proud collector of testimonials and put your best ones on display.
The best time to ask for a testimonial is immediately after you’ve delivered your product or service and your customer’s satisfaction is high. If your customer agrees send a brief but specific set of open-ended questions via email. Then follow up and get the answers by phone. A dictaphone is useful for recording their answers (but ask permission first). Once you write up the testimonial email it back to the customer for their approval.
Before and after works best
The best testimonials include a problem that has been overcome. So be sure to ask about the “before” as well as the “after”. It’s also good to highlight initial scepticism.
For example, here’s an excerpt from a testimonial from one of my clients: “I thought the copywriting process would’ve been a lot more drawn out and there would be a lot of hand-holding, but Charles quickly grasped my requirements.”
Questions to ask:
Here are some good questions to ask when getting a testimonial:
- “What do you like most about working with us/using the product?”
- Ask about their previous perceptions about using the type of service/product you offer. For example, I ask: “What were your perceptions about working with a copywriter before we started?”
- “How has that perception changed?”
- “What are the three biggest benefits of working with us/using the product?” (Do some digging here for quantifiable results e.g. are they doing things faster, easier, making more money, etc.)
- “Would you recommend our services/products?”
- “Is there anything else you’d like to add?”
Customers are sometimes hesitant to give a testimonial because they perceive writing one to be too much of a hassle. That’s why I recommend doing them on the phone. It only takes five minutes of your customer’s time and they don’t have to worry about writing perfect prose. Besides, on the phone it’s easier to capture a natural, conversational tone, which adds believability.
Never write customers’ testimonials for them, even if they ask you to (which they often do). If you write their testimonial it will sound phoney. Also, customers will often say nicer things about you than you’d ever say about yourself – if you ask the right questions.
Things to do
- Ask every satisfied customer for a testimonial.
- Create a pro forma email with your testimonial questions.
- Brainstorm where you can include testimonials in your marketing materials.
The easiest way to get great testimonials
Getting an experienced copywriter to interview your satisfied customers and write your testimonials for you is a good idea. It’s less awkward for you and your customer. Also, customers are often more comfortable communicating their praise through a third party.