Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Tips for Testimonials

One of the most powerful elements of any web site or marketing collateral for a micro business is the testimonial. Talk about credibility building! Real, true, proof in the pudding. Along comes someone who, chances are, never heard of you before and they get to read what other people like themselves really have to say about you and your business. Whether you have already started gathering and using testimonials, here are some tips on making the most of them:

First, make it easy

Getting a testimonial from your customers should be flat out easy for them. I've created a Microsoft Word document with an easy-to-fill-out customer satisfaction form that I send to new clients at the completion of a project. You might use a printed form in a stamped, self addressed envelope, a web form, or another method. I find that 9 out of 10 will type a response in mine and email it back within a week. The rest, when asked, have just gotten busy or forgotten entirely and then do it.

Tie to case study

The best way to get a testimonial is in the framework of case study. In other words, you want to provide your prospects with a case study that explains
* What the clients problem was
* What they came to you for as a solution
* What was the primary result they achieved

In my survey, I also questions that help me formulate my solutions and services, and make sure that I stay on track with my customer service. But the crux of it is gathering info for a testimonial tied to a case study.

Get a picture

Interestingly, I've read that testimonials with photos (smiling, happy clients using YOUR services or products!) are even more powerful. I haven't done this yet, because a brief phone inquiry to a number of clients indicated they'd really rather I did not. This could be a way to make your testimonials stand out and be read, but ask first, if they mind. And if so, what picture they might like you to use. Just make sure its small, well optimized and consistently sized and placed around your site or collateral.

Scatter liberally throughout

Most people put their testimonials on one (often long) page. This is fine - as long as it is obvious and can be found. Even better woudl be to scatter the testimonials, those "real world opinions from people other than yourself," all throughout your marketing materials. Tie them to case studies, relevant products and services, and so on. If you've gotten a few of the standard testimonials that are more about what great customer service you provide and how fast your were, perhaps put them on your "About" or "Team" page. But whatever you do, make sure that wherever they are looking at, they get to see some great testionials.

Let them hear

Yes, you can also put testimonials on your site as audio! And it's getting easier to do every day. If you want to do this, I'd suggest an interview format, similar to the questions I suggested above. There are dozens of tools and services that make it possible to record the conversation into a MP3 file, especially now that digital telephone service and internet phone is so popular. These files can be easily added to your site with a tool like MP3 Sound Stream.

At minimum, provide a name

In cases where you have to maintain confidentiality, a first name and last name initial can suffice but for all other instances, having the full name, business name and/or city and town of the person giving the testimonial is important. Without that, a tremendous amount of credibilty is lost and your visitors might even wonder if you made it up.

YOU can use them, too!

True confession time. There are days when I want to turn off the computer, pack the cat and a cooler, and disappear. Anyone else in business more than a year knows what I mean... hard days, when you wonder what exactly you think you're doing. My tip? Read your own testimonials. Go back and soak them in. Remind yourself - yup - it means something and yup, I'm good at it. It helps, trust me. We're still here :)

Do you have any other testimonial tips you would like to add? Leave a comment!


(c) Eileen Parzek, 2005

Eileen Parzek is an award winning graphic designer and writer providing digital and print graphic design and web design services. Always found at the intersection of information, creativity and technology, her business, Business Design Studio (www.businessdesignstudio.com) helps small businesses make a big impression, increase their reach and grow.

May be republished with full bio and credit link to http://www.businessdesignstudio.com