It’s pretty common knowledge that word of mouth is one of – if not, the – best ways to sell your products/services. In his book, Unleashing the Ideavirus, Seth Godin talks about the power of other people – particularly, reputable people – praising you, rather than doing it yourself. Sure, you can tell potential customers that you’re great, but that hardly holds any weight compared to someone else – especially if that someone else is considered trustworthy – saying the same thing.
No matter what product or service you’re promoting on your website, you need testimonials.
If you can present your case – i.e., speak about what your products/services are and how they can benefit your clients – and then have others confirm your worth, in their words, you’ll have a much more complete method of convincing your website visitors to hire you or buy your products.
Potential clients want to hear what you’ve done for your previous clients. They want to hear the success stories. These potential customers want to hear how your products/services helped others who were in a similar position to where they are now. If they can do this, without needing to phone each previous client for a reference, it’ll be much easier for them to be convinced that they should hire you or buy your products.
Testimonials work well if they are interspersed within your website’s main content and/or in a side panel and/or on a separate testimonials (or, “What Our Customers Have to Say”) page. I recommend placing them in as many spots as possible, even if you need to repeat a few of them at first. The longer you’re in business, the more testimonials you’ll have, so the need to duplicate a few shouldn’t be a problem for long.
Some of you may be in certain types of businesses where posting your clients’ names on your website is a delicate issue (or unethical) – e.g., counselling. Naturally, most people seeing a therapist, don’t want the world to know that they’ve been seeking professional help. In this case, either use their initials (with permission), a pseudonym, or leave out the name and initials altogether. Your site visitors will understand and, unless your whole website looks like one giant scam, there’s no reason for them to doubt that your testimonials are legitimate. Check with your governing body to learn what the regulations are, if any.
How to get testimonials
If you’ve done a good job for your client, this really shouldn’t be too difficult. After you’ve completed the project they hired you for or, if it’s a repeat service you provide, after you’ve been doing it for a while and established a good relationship, just ask for a testimonial, talking about what it’s been like working with you and what you accomplished for them. If you ask by email, point the client to your testimonials page, so they can get an idea of what to say and how long a typical testimonial is. This lessens any of their feelings of intimidation or simply not knowing where to start.
Sometimes clients email you, telling about a great experience they’ve had working with you or as a result of working with you. Feel free to ask the client if you can use that description (perhaps tweaked a bit) as a testimonial.
Occasionally, a client might be happy to provide a testimonial, but not have the time or inclination to actually write one up. In that case, you can either record (with permission, of course) a brief phone/Skype conversation, asking them how it’s been to work with you and then formulate a paragraph that you can use. Or you can write one for them, based on what you think they’d say. Then run that by the client for their approval and any edits they may have. Easy peasy.
Don’t be afraid to harness the power of testimonials. Let your successes with previous clients work for you to help more of the ideal clients you’re looking for.