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What do we sell?  DESIRED RESULTS

And who gets results? CLIENTS

Testimonials are a powerful (and simple) marketing tool.

The work in a number of ways; they add social proof and legitimize our claims.  They show prospects that we’ve achieved results with other people who are right where they are.  They can also be used strategically as an extension of our own copy, to overcome objections and reassure prospects that we are the solution they desperately want.

I owe much of our success in my B2B business to our 40% conversion rate from enquiry to sale.  A major contributing factor is our great testimonials from blue chip clients. (The thanks result from a lot of hard work … but still, they are a fantastic selling tool).

Every client of my BRAND360 review has had the same simple “to-do” item –  make better use of (genuine) client testimonials on their home page, about page and sales pages.

WHY DO THEY WORK SO WELL?

They Show You’re The Real Deal

I don’t need to tell you about the importance of proof in building your authority Brand.  Sure, a lot of business will come to you via referral, but even the warmest of leads is going to want to know you can know what they are experiencing and can solve their problem or fulfill their desire.

The ultimate proof will always come in the form of great results for your clients, the same results dearly desired by prospective clients.

What is Said About You Is More Powerful Than What You Say About Yourself

On Saturday afternoon, I was trying on a top in a boutique where you had to step out of the changeroom to see the mirror.   A fellow shopper asked me how she looked in a mustard yellow sweater …  did it fit well, and was it her colour?  Then she tried on the burnt orange and asked me which looked better.  We stood with them side by side in the mirror and I said to choose the one that made her feel great.  (She chose the orange).

Why didn’t she ask the hovering sales assistant?  Why take my word for it?  We were not the same age, size or colouring, she had no idea of my fashion credentials and I could have (may have) steered her horribly wrong.

My opinion was more valuable because I was external to the transaction.  It didn’t matter to me which one she chose or if she bought at all.  But it mattered to the sales assistant, so she was not as trusted in the scenario as I was.

We craft our offers with so much care (as we must) ….  But perhaps it is human nature to believe others ahead of the person who is “selling”. 

(Hence the need for Authorities to build trust ahead of making their offers, which many do by sharing valuable content and focused attention).

They Show You Work With People Like Them

Testimonials are most believable when expressed in a natural tone and incorporating skepticism.   So include the starting condition (before state) where-ever possible.

 “I had tried 10 diets before this and nothing worked for me, so of course, I thought this would fail too. The diet was really strict but easy to follow and I wasn’t hungry. (though strict).  The biggest surprise was that I got instant results and kept losing weight day after day”.

(Tips on how to ask for testimonials that include this are below).

Testimonials Can Strategically  Supplement Your Copy

They can validate a prospect’s interest by matching their current condition.

Testimonials can call out features and benefits and are super effective at addressing objections (like the one above, why would this diet be any different?).

It’s worth understanding what made buyers buy, that really helps you focus your copy for new prospects.

What would you think if you saw this for a late night bar?  “The place looks like a dive but the music and atmosphere are great”.

This testimonial does a few things, it acts as a magnet to people who like to discover or experience atmospheric “dives” (and a filter to those who do not)

Double Down With a “Celebrity” Endorsement Testimonial

Every niche has it’s “celebrities” – influencers and experts – people who have established that they are discerning and well networked.   A testimonial from someone with their own sphere of influence amplifies the words themselves.  If you’ve created good relationships with influencers, consider giving them access to your offer in return for feedback and a testimonial (if they are your ideal client).

Where Should You Use Them?

Testimonials don’t only have to sit on their own page, they can also be sprinkled through your home page, about page, sales pages and even thank you pages or check out pages (for reassurance).

Testimonials are an excellent conversion tool.   In my B2B business we pepper them through our enquiry responses.  For companies we have worked with previously we include names and thank you notes from their colleagues and encourage the person enquiry to make an internal call to ask about working with us.   We also have testimonials tagged for relevance for different starting conditions and segments.

Other Ways To Use Testimonials In Your Marketing

Video of yourself reading out thank you notes can work well at the top of your testimonial page or on your about page.  (Be humble :-)

Social media shares.  Sarah Wilson recently shared a touching thank you note from a client.  This does 2 things; it shows that clients hold her in very high (and personal) regard and also how genuinely touched she is by the gift.)

Paid advertising.  In one of my highest performing Facebook ad carousels, I have short thank you phrases super’d on our images – they word hard as copy.

Where to Start to Improve your Testimonials

Find and gather testimonials that you ALREADY have into one place.  I have a top level folder called testimonials and a tag called “client notes to save”.  Include:

  • Email thank you notes,
  • Photos of cards or gifts from clients
  • Screenshots of facebook comments of reviews
  • Screenshots of linked in recommendations

Now, pepper these through your website and marketing materials.

 Stepping Up Your Testimonial Game

Ask clients for fearless feedback and strike while the iron is hot. Timing is everything, the best time to ask for feedback is at a relationship high point.

As an aside nothing will improve your business faster than justified negative feedback, as I look back on my early days in my B2B business (Team Bonding), I’m grateful to everyone who complained about something.  I figured to the one person brave enough to say it there were 50 that felt the same way but didn’t say anything. I tweaked and tweaked and tweaked my products until complaints are extremely rare these days.   (If I have one business tip, it is this “make the stuff you sell excellent”)

To Improve the Quality of Your Testimonials, Ask for Specific Feedback with 3 – 4 Questions (adapt them them to suit you)

 Here are some questions recommended by Copy Blogger:

What was your main concern about X or what may have stopped you buying Y?

 What were the results?

 What specific feature did you like?

 What are the benefits as you see them?

 Would you recommend this?

 Anything else you’d like to tell us?

Or you could adapt these similar questions, which I found on Joanna Wiebe’s Copyhacker site, sourced from Pyschotactics.

The Before-After-Experience Testimonial

Start with Before. What hesitations did they feel pre-purchase?

Then explain After. What did the client discover after going for it?

Then speak to the Experience. What did they feel?

(Cate’s addition)  Who else should buy this?

Here are the questions I personally use to elicit feedback on my BRAND360 process (shown with some answers from a recent client):

Did you have niggling concerns about your brand?

After 3 years of operating under this name, I was unsure how it was perceived by clients or prospects. I was concerned it appeared to be same as competitors, and that it might not convey our values.

What appealed to you about BRAND360 when I told you about it?

Brand360 looked to be a good solution to provide some level of objectiveness analysis of our brand. I liked the comprehensive approach to breaking down the brand into various attributes and then scoring each of them. I also liked the three-pronged approach, obtaining feedback from clients, ourselves and people entirely outside our business.

How have you responded to your results?

Based on the results we have begun work on redesigning our lead funnel. We will also make it much clearer on our website what visitors next steps are.

What have been the benefits?

I was somewhat surprised to find that our brand does convey the values that we wanted to communicate. That was great news. The key benefit has been to clearly articulate what we need to fix.

Who is this ideal for?

Brand360 is ideal for any brand owner considering a refresh or complete overhaul of their brand. Small and medium sized businesses can obtain the sort of brand analysis that used to be available only to players with big budgets.

Whatever questions you use, capture the starting condition, the “before state” so it expresses the purchase trigger.  That way, new prospects will immediately see themselves in that starting point.

Don’t forget ….

Thank anyone that replies profusely, tag and save the testimonial.  If you plan to use their words ask explicit permission for use (including a thumbnail image) on your website and in emails with a link back. 

Some particularly kind clients may be happy record a short video or even speak to clients on your behalf as well.   They are very precious, thank them lavishly.

Using Testimonials Strategically

* For clients you’ve become close to you could ask for a video testimonial (you can only ask)

* If you have used a series of questions you can restructure the answers to over come objections or reinforce an aspect of your promise.

* A model you can uses is similar to the diet testimonial above … I thought X initially … then this happened (Y) and it ended up (Z, outcome or results).

This is how I re-formatted my client’s answers to the questions into a sales page testimonial for BRAND360

I was concerned my Brand was the same as competitors and that our values were not being conveyed.  The appeal of BRAND360 was it’s objectiveness and comprehensiveness, especially including feedback from clients, ourselves and outsiders.  We had great news about our values coming through and clarity about what to fix.  We’ve begun work redesigning our lead funnel already.  This is the kind of brand analysis that only used to be available to big players, and I recommend it for anyone considering a refresh or an overhaul.

Formatting / Design

* Testimonials are some of the most read copy on sales page because of the effect of quotations, italics and indenting.

* Take this further on your testimonial page and give it some style.

* Add a thumbnail photo (at least) and a logo if possible (shown below the formatting I use).  It can also work to “call out” a headline phrase in the testimonial.

Taking It To “Next Level”

* Work with a videographer to create mini documentaries with your clients speaking in their own words about the transformation in their business that their results have created.

* Use client stories as part of your content.  This can be written content, like Ilana Wechsler of Green Arrow Digital does so well, or audio content, such as James Schramko and Taki Moore’s podcast Sales Marketing Profit – where they use client case studies for teaching material.

Your Complete Authority Branding Strategy

Testimonials are an important part of Authority Branding.  I recently wrote an E-book called “Your Complete Authority Branding Strategy”.  It is getting a lot of attention and feedback like this ….

Cate, this is an outstanding article – thank you. It is insightful, practical and thought provoking. I have struggled a little with considering myself an Authority but after reading this, I realised that I am well on the way. I was able to confidently tick off 11/16 attributes and the others I have actions for. Fantastic, looking forward to learning more.

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