By Pam Lontos
Which are you more likely to believe, a company representative telling you how great his product or service is, or a recommendation from another customer about how it worked for him? If youre like most, the words from a fellow consumer pull more weight than even the best-written ad copy. Thats why, no matter what youre selling, you need to use testimonials from satisfied customers in every ad and marketing piece you create.
One of the main reasons people dont buy something is theyre fearful of making the wrong decision. So when they see that a product or service is endorsed by someone in their same situation, that fear is minimized. Testimonials are a great way of influencing prospects to feel comfortable about buying your products or services.
Unfortunately, few self-storage operators actively solicit testimonials from their customers. They mistakenly wait for people to give them, and when they do get them, they dont know how to use them effectively. In reality, getting and using a list of strong testimonials is easier than you think. The following tips will help you get testimonials and teach you how to use them to increase profit.
The best testimonials are written by people who are similar to your ideal customer, so be specific about who you ask. Look over your customer files and choose people who exemplify the best-case scenario for your product or service. Then approach them and say, Id love for you to share your experience with my company. Would you please write a short testimonial? Most people will cheerfully say yes. Since you want more happy customers just like these, let their words sell for you.
You can even offer to write the testimonial for them. Often, if someone declines your request to write one, its because hes too busy or feels he doesnt have adequate writing skills. In that case, offer to write it for him. Simply say, Ill be glad to write the testimonial for you. Just tell me what youd like to say about our company. You can review what I write, and we can use it as is or you can change it. Most people will leave the testimonial as is, happy they didnt have to take the time to write it.
Also look through your past notes and correspondence. Chances are youre sitting on a pile of testimonials and dont even know it. Go back through your e-mails, letters and cards from customers. Are there a few nice sentences in some of those messages? If so, ask the person if you can use his words in your marketing materials. He'll usually agree.
When it comes to writing a testimonial, there are several things to keep in mind. First, whether you write it or your customer does, it needs to specifically show the results the person yielded from the product or service. A testimonial that simply says what a wonderful company you have or how nice you are is not saying anything meaningful for the reader.
A specific testimonial will speak to results. Here are some examples:
- Dr. Smiths treatment ended my 20-year battle with migraines.
- Joes contracting remodeled my kitchen for $2,000 less than other bidders.
- Jones and Johnson CPA firm reduced my tax liability by 30 percent.
The more specific a testimonial is, the stronger it sells for you. Detailed testimonials take away the fear of making the wrong decision and help people feel safe about making the purchase.
Also keep testimonials short. Each word should have value. If someone writes you a page-long testimonial, edit out any words that dont directly address the end result he received. This doesnt mean you change the meaning of what someone writes, you simply edit out the parts that dont contribute to the meaning.
For example, if someone writes a page about everything your company did to help him save 30 percent on his heating and cooling bills, you can condense it to one sentence: As a result of ABC Co.s inspection of our home, we saved 30 percent on our monthly utility bill. Often, the more words you take out, the stronger it becomes. Also, its easier to read and will stand out more.
Try to include a name and title whenever possible. So rather than attribute your testimonial to John S., Nebraska, use the persons real name, company name, title, and/or location with permission. This makes it more believable. Most people will be happy to include their full name and other information, because the strongest human desire is to feel appreciated and recognized. Getting their name in print somewhere fulfills that need and is often perceived as fun.
Whether youre doing a print, online, radio or TV ad, include some testimonials. For print, its best to have them stand apart from the text rather than weave them into the ad copy. For radio and TV, the announcer or an actor can recite it or, if your customer is agreeable, ask him appear in your spot personally. Other marketing pieces that should feature your testimonials include your website, brochures, direct-mail pieces, postcards, billboards, newsletters and even social media.
Create a book of testimonials. Each time you receive a kind letter from a customer or client, highlight the key parts showing the benefits, put the letter in a clear plastic sleeve, and compile it in a big binder. Keep this book in your store or office for customers to read. You can also add this to your website by creating a page where you feature all testimonials. Theres no limit to how many you can include in your book or on your website.
You can even frame some of your best testimonials and post them on your walls. Again, highlight the best parts so your customers can easily see the benefits. If you dont get a lot of foot traffic, put the best letters in the package of information you leave out for prospects.
The Ultimate Sales Tool
The next time youre writing copy for an advertisement or marketing pieceand struggling with what information to includesimply go to your past testimonials. Its always better when someone else sings your praises, so let your customer sell for you. The sooner you start using testimonials in every marketing message you create, the quicker youll realize they really are the ultimate sales tool.
Pam Lontos is president of Pam Lontos Consulting. She consults with businesses and experts in the areas of sales, marketing and publicity. She founded PR/PR Public Relations and is a past vice president of sales for Disneys Shamrock Broadcasting, where she raised sales by 500 percent. Shes the author of I See Your Name Everywhere: Leverage the Power of the Media to Grow your Fame, Wealth and Success. For more information, call 407.522.8630; e-mail [email protected] ; visit www.pamlontos.com .