But I don't get many testimonials

If this sounds like you, then this article should help your situation.
Not taking the initiative for gathering or asking for testimonials is a common admission of business owners. Although customer testimonials are an important sales & marketing tool that puts your potential customers at ease with your product or service, too many business owners find ways of letting client testimonials slip through their fingers. You work hard at making the business experience a positive one for both you and your customers, but don't leave it there... ask for testimonials strategically, and take the best customer experiences public.

Shirley Lichti has put together 7 tips for gathering client testimonials, and making them work for you.

See the entire article below.

KudosWorks provides an essential toolkit to virtually any size business that wants to get a better grip on the dynamics of customer referrals and grow their sales leads generation capability without costly time & expense.

Visit KudosWorks for more information on how word of mouth marketing can be something you actively stimulate in your day-to-day marketing & customer service efforts.


Don't be shy, ask for testimonials

There's an old saying that nobody ever got fired for buying IBM. That's because for information processing managers, IBM always represented a safe decision from a trusted company with a solid reputation.

Most of us don't work for companies as large and well-respected as IBM. So how can you make business prospects feel as comfortable as possible about choosing your products or services? One way is to use testimonials from satisfied customers.

In a way, testimonials are marketing tools designed to give people reasons to do business with you.

Nobody likes to make a mistake. As a result, consumers look for clues to make them feel comfortable with their decisions. Testimonials can be very powerful because they generate immediate trust.

They send signals to prospective customers that your firm is capable of delivering what it says it can, proof that the benefits of your product or service are real, and reassurance that others before them have made the same decision and have been satisfied with the results.

Testimonials have the greatest value when there is a significant risk associated with a purchase decision. This may be due to the high cost of choosing the wrong thing or perhaps because there is some uncertainty about the claimed benefits of your product or service.

Testimonials are particularly useful for companies that are not well-known or for products and services that represent a radical departure from previous technologies or accepted ways of doing things.

Testimonials from well-known clients can provide an enormous marketing edge. Golf star Tiger Woods, for example, has spoken positively about TLC Laser Eye Centers after having had eye surgery at one of its centers. While consumers would be unlikely to believe that the surgery made him a great golfer, the testimonials do help build confidence in TLC and help sell its services at higher prices despite fierce competition in the market.

When I suggest that clients use testimonials, most of them protest that they don't receive many.

I tell them collecting testimonials should be an ongoing part of their marketing plan - they need to proactively collect comments from satisfied customers. After all, even the smallest company with minimal resources and advertising budget can take advantage of this marketing tool.

You can start the process by carefully reading your in-coming mail. Keep a file of customer comments. Follow-up on those with potential to be used as testimonials.

If you hold seminars, always distribute evaluation forms. Not only will you learn a lot about the event you staged, but customers will often add wonderful comments that can be used as testimonials.

Remember to ask for permission first and ensure you fully inform people how their comments will be used.

When customers make positive comments about your product or service, ask them if they would mind putting it in writing. Some of them may feel uncomfortable about their writing ability. If so, offer to write what you heard them say, run it past them to ensure you've captured their meaning, and get them to approve it.

Develop a list of your top customers with whom you've built excellent relationships. Approach these customers and ask if they would be willing to help you by providing a testimonial.

Once you've collected the testimonials, they can be used in promotional materials such as brochures, newsletters, Web sites, or sales proposals.

Some companies put together a portfolio or binder of testimonials and letters of recommendation to use on sales calls. Or you can display them in your lobby as a soft sell to help reinforce the buying decision.

If you have not used testimonials in your marketing activities in the past, here are a few tips to bear in mind.

1) It’s always better to have testimonials from well-known companies with established credibility.

2) Identify customers as fully as possible by using their names, titles, and company names as opposed to saying "J.D., satisfied customer in mid-Western Ontario."

3) If you plan to use testimonials in a portfolio or in a display area, get business customers to write them on their company letterhead.

4) Get customers to be specific. If they've told you they cut costs 25 per cent using your services, be sure to have them quantify this. It will be much more powerful and convincing than simply saying you did a good job for them.

5) Depending on how you will use the testimonial, it may be helpful to have a photograph of the customer as well. This visual cue helps make the message more powerful.

6) Resist the urge to rewrite testimonials. Even if something is poorly worded, the words of real people are believable. If you must edit, don't change the meaning, enhance the story or make the language sound more eloquent. Also, be careful not to take comments out of context.

7) Always remember to thank people who have contributed a testimonial with a card or a short note.

Written by Shirley Lichti for The Record, February 20, 2002

Genuosity's KudosWorks helps businesses automate customer referrals by providing the tools that their customers need to provide testimonials and to recommend them to friends.