Testimonials are a great way to authenticate your claims of excellence that are spread throughout your sales copy. Although there is usually an implied bias – not many people would post negative reviews on their website, for example – testimonials can have a lot of benefits for the freelancer, small business owner or other professional marketing themselves online.
A great testimonial can nudge an on-the-fence prospect in your direction by helping them overcome a nagging sales objection. Testimonials can also further describe what you do and how you do it, while sharing information about the type of clients you typically work with. Plus, testimonials that share a real name and real experience add to your credibility.
Your goal with testimonials should be to provide prospective clients with tangible (i.e. fluff-less) input about you and your work. Your testimonials should be relevant to the prospect, believable, trust-generating and support your statements about why clients should hire you over the next guy.
Here are some ways to get excellent and effective testimonials from your clients.
Pick the Right Clients
Not every client makes a good candidate for an effective testimonial. Limit your testimonial requests to clients you’ve worked with for a reasonable period of time, have an understanding about what you do and who you target, and are willing to be publicly identified as a client. Ideally, you will have a few clients who have a great story about you, your services and what they’ve gained by working with you; these clients should be your top picks.
It’s also a good idea to share a little background information with your clients about what you plan to do with the testimonials and what impact you hope they will have when you make the request in order to set the tone.
Use a Survey Form
Some people prefer to share in freeform mode. Others need a little encouragement to get going. You can use a survey form or questionnaire to get the client started and guide them as they tell their story.
A standard format also gives you a little help when it comes to compiling multiple testimonials. You can even use a multiple-choice survey and post the actual results as a report card to support the testimonials.
Your testimonials don’t have to be straight text. If you have clients who are willing, conduct your testimonials as interviews (or better yet, have someone else conduct the interviews), and record them as audio or video segments. You can also bolster the reviews with headshots of your clients, examples of the work and other supporting material.
Keep It Short and Sweet
Your testimonials don’t have to be long to be impactful. If you have text-based testimonials, make them scannable with short paragraphs and bulleted text. And if you use audio or video, aim for easily digestible pieces – three minutes or less is an effective length in most cases.
Run an FTC Check
Before going live with your testimonials, make sure you’re adhering to the FTC guidelines on endorsements and testimonials. Some ways to do this include making sure you are only using testimonials from current clients, giving your clients an opportunity to edit or remove their testimonials at their discretion, and only posting testimonials from real, paying clients. Please refer to the FTC guide (PDF) for the official guidelines.
Ideally, your testimonials will not replace, but will bolster what you already do with your sales copy and portfolio, showing potential clients what you can do and how it will help them personally. And once you have them, there are a lot of ways you can use testimonials in your marketing efforts.
Do you use testimonials? How effective are they for you?
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