guys get the most from your testimonials

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Customers testimonials help establish trust because they come from someone who has direct experience with your product. Thanks to the heavy hands of marketers, consumers place more trust in testimonials than they do in most other marketing messages. They believe that the average person is “like them” and isn’t offering the recommendation with an ulterior motive, which is what makes them incredibly powerful. Asking your customers to submit a testimonial to your Web site doesn’t have to be a painful process. In fact, you should be working several natural ways into everyday business.

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guys get the most from your testimonials

  1. 1. 1 Get the Most from Your Written Testimonials 6-Dec-09 Make it standard practice to ask clients and contacts for testimonials and you'll build your credibility and your business. By Ivan Misner | May 27, 2009 Written testimonials influence our actions and choices in myriad ways, sometimes without our even thinking about them. For example: You and a friend decide to catch a movie, but your tastes don't always coincide. So you open the local paper and check out the film reviews. You decide you want to go to dinner first, but there are so many restaurants in your area that you don't know which one to pick. So you open up a local magazine and scan the recommendations of the magazine's food critic. Even more powerful than these "professional" testimonials, however, are those that come from trusted personal contacts. If you have enough time, you might call or e-mail a couple of other friends to get their movie and restaurant suggestions. You're likely to follow their advice, too, because you know that they know your likes and dislikes pretty well. So it is in business. Before people come to your firm for a particular product or service, they often want the comfort of knowing what others have said about you. Let's say you refinish hardwood floors. Many consumers, before they let you haul your refinishing equipment into their house, will ask you for either written testimonials or phone numbers of people who can attest to your work. You may even have experience with another form of testimonial: providing references when applying for a new job. Those references are expected to respond by written or spoken word about you and your work performance; quite frequently, a testimonial can clinch the job for you. That's a lot of weight riding on someone else's words. Why Testimonials Increase Business Testimonials carry a level of credibility because they come from someone who has direct experience with your product or service. Consumers generally place more trust in testimonials than they do in a business's marketing message. They believe that the average person is unbiased and has nothing to gain from providing a testimonial. The business stands to gain--or lose--everything, so its own words are seen as less trustworthy. Recognizing consumers' skepticism, some businesses make a practice of asking for customer testimonials. Ditto for businesses that serve other businesses. If anything, a business can be an even more demanding customer than an individual consumer because it has its own reputation and ability to function at stake. Thus, a written testimonial on professional letterhead from one business to another is a powerful word in your favor, especially if the business represented on that letterhead is highly credible. Displaying Testimonials Written testimonials can be used in many ways to enhance your credibility and set you above your competition--on your business's website, for example. Some websites have them strategically sprinkled throughout so there's at least one testimonial on each page. Others have a dedicated page where a browser can view several testimonials at once. Either way, scan each testimonial to keep it with its letterhead. This will enhance its credibility--and yours.
  2. 2. 2 If your business attracts a lot of walk-in clients, it's helpful to display your written testimonials, each encased in a plastic sheet protector, in a three-ring binder labeled "What our customers say about us" or "Client Testimonials." Keep this binder on a table in your reception area, where your customers can browse through it while they're waiting for services. It's a good way to connect with your prospects and enhance your relationship with clients. Another way to stand out from the competition is to include testimonials with your business proposals. This strategy works best if you have a wide variety to choose from; you can include a section of testimonials that are most relevant to a specific proposal. Asking for Testimonials make it standard practice to ask clients (or other contacts) for testimonials. At what point in the sales cycle should you ask? This is a tricky question; but in general, don't ask for any testimonial before it's time-- which may be before, during, or after the completion of a sale or project, depending on your client, your product or service, and your own needs. Let's say that one month before finishing a project, you call your client to ask how things are going. The client tells you she's very happy with the results and that her life or business has changed for the better because of your product or service. At this point, your testimonial detector should be pinging loudly. It's the right time to make your pitch: "That would be a great thing for other people to know about my company. Would you be willing to write me a testimonial on your company letterhead by the end of the week?" If the answer is yes, the next step is to coach your client in writing a testimonial that fits your needs. Guiding the Content Ask your client to tell why she chose to work with you, how she benefited from your products or services, how you solved a problem for her, and what other people should know about your business. What things are most people concerned about when using a business like yours? Ask her to address those issues. Don't be afraid to offer suggestions; you'll make it easier for her to write an appropriate testimonial, and the result will be more valuable for you. Updating Your Testimonials finally, review your testimonial file or binder at least every two to three years to identify testimonials that are no longer valid or credible. Specifically, you may want to discard or re-file a testimonial that:  Is from a company that's no longer in business  Is/was written by someone who has left the company  Represents a product or service that you no longer offer  Has begun to turn yellow with age  Needs to be updated with new statistics from the customer Now that you understand what testimonials can do for your business, try asking for three written testimonials on company letterhead this week. Make it easy for your advocates--specify what you would like their testimonials to cover, based on what you know of their satisfaction or successes from using your product or service. Ask for them to be typed on company letterhead, signed and submitted by a certain date. One more thing: Remember the law of reciprocity. If you want to truly motivate someone to write you a testimonial, write one for him or her first.
  3. 3. 3 Use Testimonials for a Higher Return on Relationships how you can start a dialogue that makes business relationships happen By Dan Georgevich and Penny Davis, Directors, BNI-Michigan BNI members are always looking for ways to get a higher return on the time they invest developing their business relationships. Successful members will tell you that one very effective strategy is testimonials. Webster's dictionary defines testimonial as a "statement testifying to benefits received." It's amazing that something so simple can have a huge impact on the referral business you can generate for your referral sources and on the business your referral sources can generate for you. There are a few key questions that you can ask when you are trying to determine the best ways to use testimonials as part of your referral strategy:  Why should I give testimonials?  How can I create testimonials to give about others?  What's the best way to deliver a testimonial? Why should I give testimonials? Sure, when you give testimonials about others, it makes them feel good. But what are the real benefits to using testimonials in your strategy to generate more business for others? Testimonials are used to create credibility for the person in the spotlight. When you give a powerful testimonial about someone, the credibility and trust you create for him or her far outweighs anything that he or she can possibly say about him or herself. In fact, sometimes a strong testimonial, properly placed and effectively delivered, can create more value for an individual or business than a new client. One good testimonial can generate several new clients, and effective testimonials truly keep on giving. How can I create testimonials to give about others? One of the biggest challenges in creating testimonials for others knows where to find them. You can create testimonials about others using strategies such as:  Meeting one-on-one to learn about their business  Visiting their office or worksites  Asking to see testimonials letters they have received from their customers  Talking to their customers or clients and ask them what they think  Doing business with them What's the best way to deliver a testimonial? Decide who your audience is and the reason you are giving the testimonial. Some things to consider include deciding whether you'll be giving the testimonial in a one-on-one situation or in a group setting. Will you have collateral material or will your message be only spoken? Is it a personal introduction or are you endorsing someone with the hopes of making an introduction? Then you should focus on real-life success stories. The key to doing a great testimonial is to keep it brief. Your testimonial should spark interest and dialogue about the person you are edifying so a prospective client or customer can seek more information. The elements that make up a great testimonial include:
  4. 4. 4  How long you've known the person and how you met them.  Did the person help you or someone you know? You will want to share briefly who was the recipient of the product or service provided.  What did they do? Did they (a) save client money (or help a client make more money), (b) solve some type of problem or (c) provide outstanding service or follow-up? Give your endorsement Support others and they will support you. The more testimonials you create and deliver for other people in your network, the more likely it is they create and deliver testimonials for you. Be a role model. Use the strategies discussed to support others and by doing so; demonstrate how others can provide the same for support for you. There are many appropriate places you can choose to deliver testimonials for others including:  Introducing them at a networking event  Introducing them at a meeting  Introducing them in your company newsletter  Bringing them up in conversation when you hear a need from someone they can help  Creating a testimonial "booklet" and placing it in your office or on your desk for your customers and clients to view When you give a testimonial about someone, you don't guarantee they will land a new customer or close a big contract. You do provide a starting point for a dialogue that can cause a business relationship to happen. Successful BNI members know that the time invested in making testimonials happen, for each other, can lead to a significant and fruitful return on relationships. How to Get Your Client to sing you’re praises louder Than Usual by Sean D'Souza Donny Osmond wasn't exactly the music I listened to when I was growing up. But there I was, at a backstage event, where Donny was answering a flurry of questions. Why I was at the event is kind of inconsequential. What Donny said was something that hit me like a ton of bricks. Are you ready for the ton of bricks to head your way? The interviewer was pulling no punches when he asked Donny, "So Donny," the interviewer says,” how did your brothers take it, when you became the focus of attention; when you became the star; and they were relegated to the background?” Donny hesitated. A serious look crossed his baby-face. "I didn't know," he said. "I didn't know how much my brothers resented me becoming the 'star.' Even when I was seven years old, I was always the centre of the photos, simply because I was the youngest.
  5. 5. 5 And it kind of balanced the photos, with my older brothers flanking me on both sides. But I hated being the centre, and being pushed those few steps ahead of them. Then I actually became the 'star,' years later, and I never realized the hurt, until my biographer did the interviews with my brothers." "I wasn't allowed at the interviews" "The biographer kept me out of it," Donny went on to say. "And when I read the chapters, I was taken aback. I just didn't know my brothers felt that way. I learned lots of good stuff, and also the niggle things I never knew existed." Donny isn't alone; you're in the dark too you may well believe that your clients love you. And they do. But as human beings, we hate to do two things. 1) We hate to praise someone to the skies. 2) We hate to criticize them, and make them feel bad. And the only time we hate to do these two actions, is when we're standing plunk in front of the person. We have no problem pouring our hearts out to a third-party if you've watched Oprah; you'll know exactly what I mean. This woman won't tell her husband what she thinks. She won’t say to his face, what she loves about her husband; or what bugs the heck out of her. And then in front of ten million viewers, she prattles away with no end in sight. Not unlike your client, I must add. If you ask your client for a testimonial... You get the brief, well-sanitized version of their version of the testimonial. But put a third- party in front of that very same client, asking the very same questions, and watch the responses go ballistic. Suddenly you'll hear a torrent of stuff that's good (and not-so-good) about you. The very same client. The very same questions.
  6. 6. 6 What changed? You know what changed. It was the third-party questioning, that’s what. But this third-party testimonial does bring up another question. The Good Stuff is great: But why dredge the not-so-good stuff? Good question that you instinctively know the answer to as well. You do things that bug clients. The client is too polite to tell you about the bugs, but the bugs exist nevertheless. By ferreting out the bugs through a third-party, you can fix the bugs, before they turn into nasty gremlins. Of course, you're more than happy to hear about the good stuff, aren't you? And yeah, those are the perks you didn't even know existed. So you win both ways. You get to puff and prance like a peacock, when you hear the good things being said about you. And you also get the chance to go in and fix the glitches right away. This brings us to an action plan. How do you get outstanding third-party testimonials? Um...you've got to get a third party. Someone who can interview your clients. And that third-party needs to be armed with the right questions to create powerful, evocative answers. Make sure the third party records the session. And takes permission to use the testimonial as an audio, or as text. You can then post the audio on your website, or put it on a CD and have potential clients listen to it. You can take the text, and plaster it on every white space you can find in your ads, website, and brochure. (Nope, just kidding! Not every white space!) What makes this exercise really exciting is that third-party testimonials are way, way better than anything I’ve ever experienced. I used to think first-party testimonials were good enough and they are certainly dramatic (if you ask the right questions). But they don't come within twenty miles of a third-party testimonial. Because when it's third-party, the truth and nothing but the truth, comes tumbling out. The ugly, the bad, but mostly good stuff. Ask Donny. He'll tell you :)
  7. 7. 7 Five quick tips on sharing a good experience to help generate referrals: A Good Referral: Why Wait? Twenty-seven referrals within two hours: It sounds astonishing. How can anyone possibly get that many referrals in so short a time? And even if it's possible, surely they are leads rather than warmed-up referrals, right? But it is possible! Ian Denny, a member of Alpha Chapter in Liverpool, United Kingdom, tells us how easy it is. Since 2000, his company Multisolutions has generated in excess of £735,000 of business directly from his fellow BNI members. And along the way, he's helped many BNI members thrive by passing multiple referrals. In one case he referred one member 27 times—in one sitting! He shares how he did it without having to endure multiple awkward cold call conversations—which absorbs all your time. Ian writes: "I had a positive experience with a fellow BNI member, Jayne Smith of Document Direct, and wanted to refer her to as many people as possible. Jayne runs a team of virtual typists who transcribe dictated work for busy people. I was able to email Jayne a voice file, and within 12 minutes, I had it back as a beautifully transcribed and formatted Word document! "Instead of mentioning it to a few people over the next few weeks and months and giving Jayne the odd referral, I decided to immediately share the experience with people I knew." (Note: BNI only endorses sending testimonials to people you know well, never to strangers or mere acquaintances.) In an email to all his contact, Ian wrote about Jayne's great service and told them he would be meeting Jayne for coffee in a couple of days. If they wanted to learn more about her service, they should let him know. In the spirit of Givers Gain, he made it clear he was not being paid to say this; he only wanted others to experience similar great service. Guess what? Twenty-seven people responded. Lessons Taught we all share positive experiences, but it can take time to tell everyone you know. And after a while, the initial joy can diminish and you can lose momentum in telling others. So if you use the services of a fellow member and would recommend them, why not do it immediately? Four weeks after receiving those referrals, Jayne reported back: "From the 27 referrals, I was able to book 10 appointments immediately. Those who didn't want an appointment asked for more info by email—so there is the possibility of a future sale with some. So far I have managed to convert 50% of my appointments to a sale, which I estimate to be worth 30,000 pounds of business this year." Ian offers five quick tips on sharing a good experience to help generate referrals:
  8. 8. 8 1) Tell it as it is. Explain the situation you were faced with and how this experience benefited you. And email it—you can reach more people quickly. When you have had a great experience, strike while the mood is with you. Don't let it diminish over time, or forget to recommend because time has lapsed since the experience. 2) Address your email personally. In your salutation, use the person's first name. Use an email merge if you know how. (If you don't, visit our website and contact me. I'll send a full overview of how to do this.) 3) A referral has to be an agreement from someone you know to receive a phone call from the person you are recommending. Mention that you are seeing the person you are recommending within the next week, and that if they reply "yes," you will pass on their contact details and ask them to call. 4) Be conversational. Do not write formally! You are referring someone you know to others that you know. So keep it light and friendly. 5) Make it clear that the only reason you are doing this is because you are delighted with the product or service you received—NOT because you receive a penny for doing so. So, go on, make a recommendation while the service experience is fresh—and enjoy helping a fellow BNI member thrive. How to Solicit Testimonials without Being Annoying Posted By Lisa Baronet on June 4, 2009 @ 9:00 am in Small Business Advice | 12 Comments [1] I mentioned yesterday how powerful customer testimonials can be as a method of [2] establishing Web site trust and credibility. But how do you ask for them without sounding needy, annoying or flat out driving people away? The truth is, it’s really not that hard. Happy people like sharing their experiences. They like being part of something exciting and cool. Sometimes they just need to be reminded to say something. We’re the ones that typically make it awkward. Customers testimonials help establish trust because they come from someone who has direct experience with your product. Thanks to the heavy hands of marketers, consumers place more trust in testimonials than they do in most other marketing messages. They believe that the average person is “like them” and isn’t offering the recommendation with an ulterior motive, which is what makes them incredibly powerful. Asking your customers to submit a testimonial to your Web site doesn’t have to be a painful process. In fact, you should be working several natural ways into everyday business.  Company Emailing: Chances are you have some kind of an email list developed. You may have a monthly newsletter that you send out, you require an email address for purchases, or you simply offer customers and opportunity to sign up for site alerts via email. However you are using those email addresses; create a natural way to solicit customer testimonials from Inside Company emailing. You never want to spam your customers, but if you’re sending a newsletter to someone who opted in to it, ask them to rate your company. Ask them what they like about you. Ask how their latest purchase went. Create a snippet at the bottom of your mailing that encourages and makes it easy for a customer to comment on your company. People want to talk to the companies they love. Give them that chance.
  9. 9. 9  Order Confirmations/Follow Ups: When a customer purchases something from your Web site, you probably send them an order confirmation to let them know it’s been processed and that you appreciate their business. Seven to 14 days after that confirmation goes out, send them another email to follow up (there are auto responders that can help with this). Ask them how their experience was and whether or not they’d tell their friends about you. If the information they provide is valuable, ask them for permission to use it on your site to encourage other customers to make the same purchasing decision they did. Maybe even ask for a photo so that you can use to make their testimonial seem more real and credible.  Create an Event Around It: Not so long ago, Duct Tape Marketing’s John Jantsch had the idea to [3] create an entire event around gathering testimonials. The idea was to invite your best or most enthused customers in for a networking happy hour and, while they are there, to take photos, videos and gather feedback that you can use later. It’s a fun, easy way to bring happy people into your store and get them talking to you and about you. It’s even easier to put together now thanks to the frequency of tweetups and meetups. Often, people are already meeting up on their own. Invite them to do it with you and throw a party!  Offer incentives at checkout: We’ve all been there – you purchased a shirt you’re really jazzed about and the sales girl tells you if you call this number and answer a few questions, you’ll be submitted into a drawing. Only you never call. No one does. Those don’t work because as soon as you leave the store, you’ve already moved on and forgot about the offer. Instead, hand them the comment card right at checkout. Have it pre-populated with questions to guide good, specific testimonials, and tell them they’ll receive a discount or special gift if they fill it out before leaving today. It’s a lot harder for someone to say no when you’re staring them in the face and their endorphins are flowing from a recent buying spree.  Challenge them to create their own: We’re living in the era of user-generated content, right? Hold a contest asking your customers to submit the best company testimonial they can — challenging them to use video, images, and audio, whatever they can think of. Not only will you get some incredible testimonials to use on your site, you’re also engaging the people who already love you and showing new customers how beloved you are in the community. You’re creating buzz around your brand. When someone leaves a testimonial, thank them. Let them know how much it means to you that they’re open to helping your business grow. And always get their permission before using it on your site or in your company literature. Just because they said it to you, doesn’t mean they’re okay with having their name tied to your site. It’s always better to ask than assume. When you get the testimonials, edit them if necessary, but don’t rewrite them. People can tell when testimonials are using real language or if they’ve been tweaked and manufactured by a marketing executive. Let customers use their own language…even if they’re not always the most eloquent when they do so. Remember, asking for a customer testimonial doesn’t have to be taboo or a burden to them. People like talking about the companies they love. Make getting feedback part of your daily business life and encourage your customers to speak up about you. Chances are they’re already talking about you in places like Twitter and in blogs, anyway. Attract new customers by showing them how happy you’re current ones already are. Who wouldn’t want to join that party? (Testimonials) Capture Your Success Stories
  10. 10. 10 Telling your success stories is vital to the growth of your business. Here are five ways to do this. 1. Ask for written. (Write samples to help clients get started.) 2. Write down two success stories that represent your preferred client and your strongest work. 3. Write a personal introduction for your network to use when making referrals. 4. Toot your own horn. Tell people about the good things your business does. 5. When someone gives you a testimonial at a BNI meeting, write it down and ask them for permission to use it. Well, I’m going to talk a little bit about Capturing Your Success Stories. I’ve talked about this in some of my books and on my blogs, and I think this is a great topic for the podcast. Many of us are taught as kids that we should refrain from bragging about our successes, but there’s a real caveat to those rules that our parents usually didn’t teach us, and it’s important to understand that it really helps our business to do certain things that capture our success stories. Now, success stories about businesses and entrepreneurs are really vital for those who are dedicated to learning all we can in order to make our own enterprise as successful as possible. There are four approaches that I want to mention to capture your success stories. One is to ask for written testimonials. Get satisfied customers or colleagues, certainly fellow BNI members who’ve used your services to write letters on their own letterhead to spotlight their positive experiences with you and your business. Here’s a recommendation that I have. If you are looking for a testimonial from somebody who is really successful, they will be a crown jewel in your list of testimonials. I recommend that you ask them if it’s okay if you write a couple of sample testimonials that they could look from, edit, and use themselves. Now, that sounds kinds of crazy, but the truth is, if you’re going after really, really, really busy business people and really successful business people – and let’s assumes they’re happy with your services – they’d be glad to do you a testimony. The problem is they just don’t have the time to do it, so giving them a starting point that they can edit really helps a great deal. And it’s something that I’m often asked to write endorsements for books, and I’m always willing to do it, but last year we did almost 60 endorsements. And that can be almost a full-time job just doing endorsements. I’m exaggerating a little, but that’s a lot of work. And many of them gave me drafts to work from and then I added my own flavor to it, and it really helped expedite the process. And I think it works really well with testimonials. So that’s my first recommendation. Second one is a little briefer. Write down two success stories; highlight your successes to help your network; understand who best represents your preferred client. These stories should clearly emphasize what you do better than anyone else and use those success stories as examples, particularly in BNI, for people to understand the types of products or services that you offer so that they can better refer you. Third is to write a personal introduction. Provide your network with material that they can use when talking about you and your business with people who fit your preferred client profile. You don’t want your referral sales force making stuff up about you, and this really simplifies their task and ensures accuracy. So if you can write up a little brief statement, “Here’s what you can say about me when you meet someone who might be able to use my products or services.” For those people who are serious about trying to help you, it’s a great tool; it’s a great benefit. For BNI members, I’d recommend you definitely do that during your ten minute presentation. If you’re giving the Ten Minute Talk, here’s a great opportunity for you to give them something to walk away with to help them remember what you talked about.
  11. 11. 11 And number four, the last one, is toot your own horn. Tell people about the good things your business does. This isn’t about crowing over your amazing golf handicap or admitting your own fine taste in wine. It’s about spotlighting your business strengths as well as it being about the legitimate good works that you do in the community. There’s nothing wrong with letting people know some of the projects that you’ve worked on and your success with it. You can do it without being boastful. There are ways that you can do it. For example, if you’re the Ten Minute speaker, you have in your introduction some of that, so somebody else is talking about some of your successes rather than you, personally. But the more you can communicate your success stories to others, the more they will be confident in your ability to provide quality products or services. I think these are some really tangible techniques that BNI members can use to help increase their credibility at the chapter level. I think one of the real advantages to BNI is that you don’t actually have to say all that about yourself; you can get somebody who’s used the services to stand up in the meeting and give you a testimonial at that time. You bring up a great point, and I’ve never really thought about this. Here’s a fifth one. As people are giving you testimonials at a BNI meeting, jot it down. Try to capture the essence of what someone is saying. Type it up, e-mail it back to them, and say, “Thank you so much for the testimonial today. I really, really appreciate what you said. This is the essence of what I heard you say. Could you edit it, make any changes you want to make to it, and may I use it in my testimonial folder?” You just gave me a great idea. I think that’s a super technique to do, because I’ve never really thought about writing it down as you’re hearing it. But you’re right, and you want to capture those testimonials as much as possible. There’s also another way to record people’s testimonials and put it on an MP3, if you have a Web site. Yeah I think that’s a great idea. I think maybe having a combination on your Web site of some written testimonials as well as a few audio versions of it, or even video versions of it, are great suggestions, good stuff. Yeah. Well, have we come to the end? Do you have anything else you’d like to add? No I think that’s it for today. And what I’d love the BNI members to try some of these four and the fifth one that we added on; that’s a brand new idea, never tested it, love to hear how it works. So those of you who listen to this podcast, please feel free to give us some feedback, tell us what you like, and if you’ve done the fifth one, or when you’ve done the fifth one, get back on the podcast and post a message here on the bulletin board, because we’d love to hear how it works out. "How to Easily Get Customer Testimonials Posted By: Peter Geisheker -" Using customer testimonials in all of your marketing materials (sales letters, brochures, website, advertisements, etc.), is one of the most powerful marketing tools available. The reason why testimonials are so important and valuable in marketing is that prospects are much more likely to believe a customer testimonial that praises your product or service then they are to believe slick sales text written by the company that is advertising. Another reason why testimonials are such a powerful marketing and sales tools is that they are very similar to a referral. A testimonial is a person telling other people that they can trust your business and that you offer a quality product/service.
  12. 12. 12 Now that you know how valuable customer testimonials are, you are probably wondering how you get testimonials from your customers. Here are four very easy yet highly effective strategies you can use to get customer testimonials immediately: 1. If you are a new business and you have not made any sales, let several of your friends try your product or service for free. If they honestly like it, ask them if they will write a testimonial that you can use in your marketing. This is very easy to do and should instantly get you several testimonials. 2. If you are an established business and you have made sales, call your customers and ask them what they like most about the product or service they purchased from you. As they tell you, make sure that you are writing down what they are saying. After they are finished praising your product/service, tell them, “wow, that was great! Can I use what you just said as a testimonial?” Almost always the customer will give you their permission. 3. Email your customers and say that you are developing new marketing materials and you would love to include a client testimonial from them. Then ask if they would be generous enough to help you by emailing you a brief testimonial. If you have a list of at least 100 customers, you should get at least a couple of good testimonials by doing this. 4. Mail your customers a thank you card for doing business with you. In the card say you would be very thankful if they would be generous enough to give you a testimonial by emailing it to you, faxing it to you, or simply calling you on the phone. By executing the above strategies, you should easily get 10+ strong customer testimonials. Then, make sure to take advantage of these testimonials and use them in ALL of your marketing. By doing this, you will instantly see an increase in response rate and sales from your marketing. "How to Use Testimonials to Promote Your Services Posted By:" There are many ways to use testimonials to promote your services. Some of the more popular ways follow. 1) Insert a colored box on your web site for each testimonial. Include the author’s (buyer’s) name and his or her domain name (not hyperlinked, so that shoppers don’t click away from your site) with specific comments directed towards your service quality. If you don’t have anything this detailed, write some of your top clients and tell them what you are looking for and see if they can help out in exchange for promotion for them for free On your site. Then to give the testimonials more value, more credibility, add the author’s photo and even an audio clip or video testimonial. “3 Keys to Using Written Testimonials” This is a follow-up to last week’s episode about asking for testimonials. There are three keys to using written testimonials successfully. 1. Ask for written testimonials at every opportunity—but not too soon! 2. Guide the content of your testimonials. The easier you make it for your client, the more likely you are to get what you need. 3. Update your testimonials. Review your file or binder (or website) every two to three years at least. Discard anything from a company that’s no longer in business. Feel free to well, today I’m going to talk about three keys to using testimonials, which is follow-up to last week’s podcast on Asking for Written Testimonials. And the question really is: How to you use those testimonials when you have them? So that’s what I want to talk about today.
  13. 13. 13 We know what a powerful tool testimonial can be when it comes to building credibility and generating new business. I talk about that in last week’s podcast, but it’s also very important to know how to successfully use testimonials and how to ask for them. And there are three keys to successfully using written testimonials that I would like to talk about today. One is that you ask for testimonials at every opportunity. Whenever you have the chance, I think it’s really important to ask for those testimonials. Second is to guide the content of your testimonials. Don’t necessarily write them, but guide the content, help to coach and guide the direction that the testimonials go. And three is to update your testimonials. So at what point in the sales cycle should you ask clients or your fellow members of BNI or other contacts for testimonials? This is kind of a tricky question, but in general, asks for no testimonial before it’s time. You want to make sure that you are at credibility with somebody before you’re asking for an endorsement or a testimonial. Now, this is probably before or after the completion of a sale or a project, but depending on the type of client that you have, your product, or service, it’s after you’ve established a good relationship that you’re going to want to ask for that endorsement or for that testimonial. So let’s say, for argument’s sake, that that’s one month before a finishing major with some client or after the completion of the project. You want to call your client to ask how things are going before it’s over. If the client tells you that they’re really happy with the results and that their business is better because of the products or services, that’s the point that your testimonial detector should be pinging loudly; it’s the right time to make your pitch; it’s the right time to start to talk to the client about the endorsement. It would be good to say to them, “It would be a great thing for other people to know about what I do. Would you be willing, when I’m completed with the project, to do an endorsement or testimonial on your company letterhead by the end of the project?” If they’re happy, they’re going to absolutely say yes, they’d be more than glad to do that. The next step is to then coach the client in writing the testimonial that fits your needs. Ask him or her to tell why they chose you to do the work and how they benefited from your products or services, how you solved the problem for them, what other people should know about your business, what are most people concerned about using a business like yours. Ask them to address those issues. Don’t be afraid to offer suggestions. That’s really important. Don’t be afraid to offer suggestions. It will make it easier for them to write an appropriate testimonial, and the results will be more valuable for you. Sometimes people feel uncomfortable laying the ground work and doing a portion of the testimonial, but I’m here to tell you that for people, it’s really easier if you can give them some suggestions or show them some previous endorsements that have been done or give them some verbiage to use. For example, I’m asked to do dozens and dozens and dozens of book endorsements every year. I mean, literally, I think last year was like 30 or 40 book endorsements and forwards that I was asked to write. It’s so much easier when somebody comes to me and says, “Here’s my book; here’s my material. Here is a sample endorsement or two or three.” And they’ll give me two or three to pick from, and they’ll say – these are the people that are really doing it right – “Here are two or three; these are covering some topics or some comments other endorsements I have are kind of missing. So if you feel comfortable with two or three of those, would you use them as is or put them in your own words or come up with something on your own.” So they’re basically saying to me, “Look, you don’t have to use my words, but here’s something to start you off with.”
  14. 14. 14 Do you have any idea how helpful that is for somebody who’s very busy? And they’re going to pick and I pick and endorsement of phraseology that fits my style, that fits something I would say, and then I adjust it or change it or I may rewrite it completely or rewrite it in part. It gives me a starting point. And so there’s nothing wrong with coaching and guiding the endorsement. Just ask the person to be honest and tell them that if none of these work, come up with something else that they feel more comfortable with. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. Priscilla: Do you think it’s embarrassing for the person that’s presenting it to write something about themselves and then hand it to you? Do you think that’s awkward? Ivan: Yeah. Yeah, it is, especially if you’ve not done it much. It feels uncomfortable; it feels like it could be self-serving, and so that’s why you want to have a lot of escape clauses in what you say to them. Ivan: “If you don’t like this or this doesn’t fit exactly how you feel, please, please feel free to write something completely different or write what you feel comfortable with.” There’s nothing wrong with that. But the bottom like is you want the endorsement, you want the testimonial, and people are very, very, very busy; especially successful people. And so the easier you can make it for them, the more likely they’re going to give you what you need. You have to remember, this is for you, not for your client. You’re asking for your client to do something for you. And they’re generally more than willing, but they may be busy, so the easier you can make it for them, the better. Now, here’s the last part of the process, and that is to update your endorsements and testimonials. You want to review your testimonial file or binder at least every two to three years, at least, to identify testimonials that are no longer valid or credible, out of date. Specifically, you want to discard retile a testimonial that’s from a company that’s no longer in business. That’s important. You have a big company and maybe they were well known and you got an endorsement, but they’re out of business now, that doesn’t necessarily make you look good. An endorsement from the vice president of Enron isn’t going to help you at all. For those of our listeners who are from other countries, Enron was a big company that went out of business a couple of years ago. Yeah, exactly. So you want to pull those out. Was it written by somebody who has left the company? That may or may not be as big of a deal. Just because they left the company doesn’t mean you pull it out of your file. It may still be completely valid, but it’s certainly one you want to think about. Does it represent a product or service that you no longer offer? Well, you certainly don’t want that to be an endorsement letter if it’s something you don’t do anymore. Is the endorsement dated in some way? Does it talk about something that was only relevant at one point, the situation or the experience? Does it need to be updated with new statistics from the customer? Now, that’s important. What if this is a customer that you’ve been working with over time and you’ve got more
  15. 15. 15 current data and you want to get that updated? That’s really easy. You go back to the customer, you say, “Here’s the endorsement you did earlier. Would you mind just plugging in these numbers instead of that? And would you sign off on it?” And generally speaking, they’d be more than glad to do that. So these are things that you want to remember. So just to review, you want to ask for testimonials at every opportunity; you want to guide the content of your testimonials; and you want to update your testimonials over time. Remember the law of reciprocity; it works here, too. If want to motivate someone to write you a testimonial, write one for him or her first. Offer to do an endorsement for them whenever you’re doing business with somebody who’s also doing business with you. And I think that these are recommendations that are really powerful and valuable for BNI members all around the world. Priscilla: That’s great, Ivan. I just want to mention that our BNI group is going to talk about the possibility of writing testimonials for each other inside of the meeting instead of a presentation, and we’re going to talk about it at our leadership meeting this week. And I’ll let you know how that goes. Ivan: Yeah, that’s a great idea, and those kinds of discussions, I think, can be really valuable for a chapter. It’s very focused on the vision of the organization and the purpose of the organization, which is to support one another. And I think it’s a great idea to spend ten minutes at a meeting talking about how we do good written testimonials. By the way, I’ve seen many chapters that literally have a chapter testimonial binder where members have endorsed other members and the work that the other members have done. And they have that for visitors who come to visit the group, and I think that’s a great idea. I think that’s it for this week. I just want to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, the leading site on the Net for networking downloadable. Thanks so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and I hope you’ll join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast. Hold a Testimonial Gathering Party Gathering and utilizing authentic customer testimonials is a great way to a) get closer to your customers and b) offer proof that your company delivers. People can be very motivated by the comments of their peers. I often find that while most business owners understand the power of testimonials, they don’t always know the best way to acquire them. So, here’s an idea that I think works on a number of levels. (I actually got this from a participant in a workshop I did for Apple Specialists attending Macworld.) Why not create an event around gathering testimonials. Invite your best customers for a networking social happy hour. Promote the event as a chance to network, swap stories and star in the creation of new
  16. 16. 16 marketing materials for your company. Give it a Hollywood theme. (This probably isn’t something you would do large scale, this is for those customers that are advocates already.) Hire a videographer and photographer and then throughout the course of the evening, let your customer’s cycle through the video seat to tell their story of success with your firm. Most people enjoy being on camera once they do it and the whole group will be entertained by the event and feed off of each other’s energy. (This is something you should be doing anyway so why not does it all at one time.) Yes, this is a bit of a self-serving event on the surface, so I do believe you need to be very selective about invitees and keep it very light and fun - participation in the testimonial part is completely voluntary. But, I think you will find that your customers think this is great too. (Wine helps) Another way to motivate your customers to participate is to offer to allow them to also create a quick video overview of their company while at the event that they can use in their own marketing efforts. Once you capture the video, audio and still photos from the event, you’ve got a testimonial and success story library that could infuse your marketing materials, broadcast and print ads for years. And, you’ve created a customer loyalty and community building event that just may become next year’s hottest party to crash! Top 7 Ways to Improve Your Business Using Online Surveys and Quizzes By John Hoogstrate [ Print | Email This | Bookmark ] Surveys are often used online to measure customer satisfaction on websites, however there are many other creative ways that you can use a survey or quiz to improve various aspects of your business. 1. Improve your website. You can improve your website by creating a short survey and put it on your website. Ask your visitors why they are visiting your website, if they succeeded in doing what they came for and if they have any suggestions. Using the feedback you get you can improve your website to turn more of your visitors into customers. 2. Stay in touch with your customers. After completing a sale, send a follow up by email a few weeks later. Ask your customers how they feel about having done business with you. This will not only provide you with valuable answers but also provide you with an opportunity to remind your customers about your business, and show them that you care about their opinion. 3. Help customers select products with a product chooser. If you offer a variety of products and services you can help your customers feeling confident about choosing the product or service that matches their needs. The customer has to answer a number of
  17. 17. 17 questions and will be guided towards different outcomes depending on the answers that he or she selects. 4. Do product research. Before launching a new product or service you can find out how to design, market and price it by doing a survey first. This will give you a good impression of what people think about your idea and how you should market it. 5. Improve your presentation and sales skills. After giving a presentation or a pitch invite your audience to evaluate it using an anonymous survey. This will give you valuable feedback from you audience that people might not dare to say to in person, and also shows that you care about their experience and want to improve yourself. 6. Create a fun quiz about your business. Engage your customers in a playful way by creating a quiz about your business. It's a fun way to educate people with facts about your business and products. Because people have to think about it the information that you provide sticks with them for a long time! 7. Employee recruitment survey. Use a survey to find possible candidates for job openings. A survey will allow you to ask questions about their skills and experience, contact information and test the knowledge of candidates before inviting them to an interview. Create free and professional grade surveys and quizzes at http://youaks.com with much more information about how they can help improve your business. People Are Talking About You. Are You in the Conversation?” Word of mouth marketing is always working. It just may not be working in your favor. Online networking makes it possible to stay more engaged and guide the conversation. Because of that, you have to participate. Go to the search engines and set up alerts for your name, your company name, the title of your book or name of your products. That way you’ll know who’s talking about you and you can get in touch with them or respond on your own blog. If you come across a complaint, a timely offer to fix the problem can turn it into an endorsement.
  18. 18. 18  Google Alerts  Yahoo! Alerts Today’s topic is People Are Talking About You; Are You in the Conversation? And it kind of stems from some material that I originally did in my book, Truth or Delusion?, and I bring up the point that word of mouth marketing is always working. Word of mouth marketing is always working. It must may not be working in your favor. And you may not be getting the kind of word of mouth you’re looking for; it may not be the kind you’re hoping, which is the good kind where people are talking positively about you. The problem is the negative word of mouth really has legs, and the average dissatisfied customer tells ten times more people, and that’s based on studies that have been done. That was one out of the White House. Office of Consumer Affairs found that people are more likely to talk about you when they’re unhappy than when they’re happy, therefore, you have to get engaged in the process. And with online opportunities, that’s even more important. It’s especially important to be engaged in conversation with online networking. There you have a little bit more, I don’t want to say control, because you really don’t control what is said, but you have an opportunity to engage more effectively with online networking opportunities. And we’ve talked about and had some guest speakers talking about online communications through blogs and bulletin boards. One of the things I think is really important, you have to stay engaged in that kind of conversation; you need to check out what’s going on and what’s being said about you. And what made my really start to think about this was a number a years ago, we started getting more and more BNI groups going on LinkedIn and Ecademy, and so I had some directors who were saying, “I’m not going to participate in those.” And years ago, I said, “We’ve got to participate in those just to stay engaged in the conversation,” because if you’re not engaged in a conversation, you can’t help direct it or coach it in any way whatsoever. Sometimes the most vocal people are the people that are unhappy, and that engagement is really important. A great example of what I’m talking about is a blog or an article that I recently saw by a good friend of mine, Dave Goetz. Dave is the publisher of SuccessNet, for our newsletter, BNISuccessNet.com. Dave is the publisher of that. He and his staff, Bernice, Bunny, do all of the heavy lifting to get SuccessNet done, and he writes articles a lot about branding and customer service. And he wrote a piece entitled, “Are They Laughing at You?” or something to that effect, which I think was really an interesting article, because he talked about a professor who was teaching a graduate level class at a university. Usually, graduate level classes are very interactive and the students get involved. When you start talking about Master’s level students, these are people who’ve – they’re out there in the workforce. They’ve got some expertise, and that’s one of the reasons why they’re much more seminal and interactive. But this particular professor just said, “Look, I’ve got content I need to go through. This is not a discussion class. I’m just going to lecture.”Well, in this day and age, that doesn’t work; it doesn’t work in business, and it doesn’t work in the classroom. Because you know what these kids did, these young adults? What did they do?They actually set up an instant messaging board, and while the professor was talking, they were all talking to each other online about what an idiot this guy is. And so, while he’s up there droning on and on and on, the very thing he said couldn’t happen was happening, and he didn’t know about it. And so that’s where the title of this podcast comes from, is People Are Talking About You; Are You in the Conversation?It’s really important to be in the conversation. Now, to the credit of these students,
  19. 19. 19 finally one of them said, “Hey, look, we can sit here and bash the professor every week for the rest of this course, which is a lot of fun, but we’re really not accomplishing what we need to accomplish.” And so what they ended up doing was literally dialoging with each other about the topics that the professor was talking about, and he wasn’t involved in the conversation at all. And so although it turned into a somewhat positive experience for these students, it was because of, really, their integrity that it stayed positive, or mostly positive, as opposed to really going south. And so the question, if you’re in business, really is, “Are people talking about you?” And it’s hard to figure that out with the face-to-face networking, but with online networking, it’s not so hard to figure out. And one of the ways that I recommend that my listeners and BNI members getting engaged in conversation is to go to Google, go to Yahoo, go to any search engines, many of them have alerts, alerts, a Google alert and a Yahoo alert. And you go to those sites and you go to the alert section, and you say every time my name, and you type in your name, every time my name is mentioned online, send me an alert. And you can set it up where you get an alert every time it happens, I usually do a daily summary. So every day I get an alert from Google and an alert from Yahoo that mentions every time my name was mentioned anywhere. And it do it for my books. I do it not only for my name, I do it for my books, I do it for BNI. So I do it for my company names, my book names, my name, I do it for certain phrases that I’m wanting to stay on top of, like business networking and social capital, so that I stay engaged in the conversation. It’s really a lot of fun when somebody writes an article or a blog and they mention me or they mention my book or they mention BNI. I don’t get to do this every single time, so if I don’t get back to you, I apologize, but many, many times, somebody will mention me or BNI or one of my books, and I’ll get this alert. And I’ll just drop the person a note. “Hey, thanks for mentioning me in your blog or in your column.” And they’re always just shocked that I knew about it. I even had one where a nonmember blasted a local BNI chapter about the way they were invited, and the chapter really didn’t quite handle it right. And saw this and I posted on the blog. I said, “Hey, I’m really sorry that you were treated that way.” And I apologized, “That’s not the way it’s supposed to be done, and we’ll do a little redirecting, retraining with this chapter. And I just wanted to let you know that that’s not the way that we generally do things, and I apologize for your experience.” Well, you should have seen the next blog this woman wrote. The next blog was, “This is the way a corporation should handle a complaint, and what a great job.” And so this is what I mean where you need to be engaged in a conversation, because if you’re not engaged in a conversation, you don’t have an opportunity to put your version of what took place out there and to support your brand, even if it’s a small brand, to support your brand and your business throughout the marketplace.So people are talking about you; are you in the conversation? That’s great. I just want to add that I had an experience last week that showed me about negative comments and what legs they have. This woman I talked to, I had never met her before, she launched into this passionate discourse about how she had taken her dog to get him groomed, and the woman had not listened to anything she said and destroyed this dog’s fur, essentially. And she was so passionate about it and was telling me never go there or don’t ever tell anybody to go there. And I was like wow! That’s my point. I call it the WHAM factor; people are more likely to talk about your business when they’re mad at it than when they happy with it. Wouldn’t it be nice if the opposite were true, if people talked about your business, if they’re happy, they talk about it as much as those who are unhappy, but generally, that doesn’t happen. We see something slightly different in BNI because we are a very structured program to go out and talk positively. But as a rule, it doesn’t really work that way in the real world. BNI is sort of an artificial construct for developing word of mouth that is a little bit different.
  20. 20. 20 Well, I know we’re almost out of time. Just to wrap up, I would say that whether you’re networking online or face to face, the dialog is going to happen with or without you. And if your don’t participate in the conversation, particularly online, you’re not in control whatsoever. I mean, you’re never in control, but you have no opportunity to guide and coach and to bring it along. But if you do participate publically and say who you are – one of the big no-no’s in buzz marketing is to act like you’re somebody else; I would never suggest that. You go in, say who you are. And I think it’s more powerful to say, “Hey, I’m so-and- so. I’m sorry you had a bad experience,” or “Let me give you a different perspective.” I think you can help to steer the conversation in a positive direction. How To Write A Great Testimonial 25-Oct-09 Testimonials are great marketing tools, but so often they are created in a way that is less than effective. First some overall tips Get a testimonial from every one of your clients Consider audio and video testimonials Write them for them – or make it easy for them to write it Now some writing tips Write as though you are speaking to a prospect (Most people write testimonials as though they are speaking to the owner of the company) Give a specific, measurable benefit of using the product or service Don’t hype – write in plain English Okay, want to get more web site traffic using testimonials? Go to your bookshelf, take down every business book you have ever read (the ones you like at least) and find the author’s web site or blog and send them a well-written testimonial. Suggest that they are free to use it on their web site. (Include your name and web adddress) Heck, why stop at authors: Send one to every vendor Your web host Your accountant Your mentor I want to close this little lesson on testimonials with one that found on a book by Brenda Ueland called If You Want To Write “Run, do not walk to your nearest bookstore and buy If You Want To Write. It is one of the few books I have read more than five times. I have so much faith in Ueland’s book that if you buy it and it doesn’t help you. I will give you your money back. I won’t even say that about my book.” – Guy Kawasaki, MacUser An Automated Testimonial Machine
  21. 21. 21 Most marketers know they can benefit from customer testimonials, but the work involving acquiring these glowing marketing messages can get in the way. I’ve been using a handy tool to generate and play audio messages on web sites for some time now, but I’ve recently started using this same service to automatically generate testimonials. Here’s how it works. I send a client a link. (or post it to a web page.) When the client clicks on the link they are taken to a page that asks them to write a brief testimonial, then they are moved to a screen that gives them a toll free phone number and asks them to call and recorded a voice testimonial. The script even allows them to upload their picture to be used in a testimonial posted to a web page. Once a client participates in the system, the act of placing their testimonial, including the audio clip, is fairly painless. Testimonials are very powerful and become even more so with images and audio to back them up. Click this link to see how the automated testimonial machine works. Related Posts: The Testimonial Writing Machine Almost every small business marketer knows that they should gather testimonials to use in their marketing materials. The problem though is that getting your clients, the ones who know your greatness, to sit down with a blank sheet of paper and crank out a glowing testimonial can be a bit of a chore. It isn’t that they don’t want to do it, it’s just that there are other priorities calling to them as well. I accidentally stumbled on a way to get clients to systematically write testimonials. And, I found that this method actually produced far better, results oriented, copy than anything I had done in the past. Here’s the system. Occasionally, when you are presenting your wares to a prospect, include a page that simply lists four or five references for contact instead of your traditional glowing testimonial page. Urge your prospect to contact each for more information on how you or your product performs. (I’ve even gone as far as writing a list of suggested questions they might ask the reference – it helps them focus on benefits) In some cases your prospect may request this anyway. What I have found is that when your current client is contacted for information (often by email these days) they will generally and immediately feel compelled to put in writing what amounts to a well-written testimonial. The key here is that, when approached by another business, they will write as they are speaking to a prospect. The copy will almost always be over the top selling you and in the perfect voice for you to re-use as a testimonial. (When a client writes a testimonial in the traditional way they often write is as though they are speaking to you. Many times this doesn’t have the same marketing pop to it.) Now here is where the fun part comes in. What I have also found is that quite often your existing clients will copy you on the communication they sent to the prospect. Bingo, instant testimonial, written exactly as you need it for your marketing materials.
  22. 22. 22 Actually, using this strategy can be even stronger than just printing written testimonials as it involves your current clients in the active process of marketing and has the tendency to resell them on their decision to do business with you as well. The only caution is that you spread the love around to as many of your clients as you can so that no one group of clients becomes burdened in the process. A Testimonial Machine In the Making Everybody knows that a good testimonial comment and endorsement from a client can be a fundamental marketing tool. . .but, everybody knows how hard it is to get a client to stop and write one – no matter how well intentioned they are. Here’s a little tool that will help you acquire some very powerful testimonials. It may seem a bit sneaky, but, hey, it seems to move people to action. Instead of simply asking your clients for testimonials, give the names of 3 or 4 very happy clients to you next prospective client and insist that they check you out by way of your references. Here’s what will happen almost all of the time. Your clients will respond to a request from your prospect with a glowing testimonial, written to a prospect, in precisely the voice you want. And, in most cases they will copy you on the effort. Viola, instant testimonial machine! I don’t really know why this is so much more effective, but there is something about the 3rd party involvement that moves your client to some extra adjectives. Give it a try and see for yourself. Related Posts: The Small Business Reverse Testimonial Referral Tactic Every now and then I like to post a simple tactic that readers can put to use today. This is one of those posts. I’m a big fan of acquiring testimonials from happy clients to sprinkle through your marketing materials. I know this technique gets overdone by the Internet marketing crowd, but when a prospect reads a credible comment from another person, endorsing the promise of you marketing message, it does have an impact. I advocate asking every single client for a testimonial, whether you use them all or not, because I think it forces the client to consider the value you bring or, and this is equally important, allows them to discuss why they don’t feel comfortable providing you with a testimonial. Pretty straightforward to this point, but now for the reverse part. When you receive a testimonial from a client, clip a very powerful sentence or paragraph and print (you can do this in-house with post card templates from an office store or StockLayouts) 10-12 postcards with
  23. 23. 23 you client’s comment, a simple offer and your contact information. Then, send these cards to your client and ask them to jot a hand-written note and send them along to folks they think would benefit from this offer. (Yes, put postage on the cards for them.) The power of this little technique is that you have made yourself very easy to refer, you have personalized the referral and created a marketing approach that may stir a little buzz from sender and receivers – all good things. Plus, any client that sends these out has just resold themselves on being a client. Now, all you need to do to create a flood of referrals is focus on making every client testimonial happy. Hold a Testimonial Gathering Party 25 October 2009Gathering and utilizing authentic customer testimonials is a great way to a) get closer to your customers and b) offer proof that your company delivers. People can be very motivated by the comments of their peers. I often find that while most business owners understand the power of testimonials, they don’t always know the best way to acquire them. So, here’s an idea that I think works on a number of levels. (I actually got this from a participant in a workshop I did for Apple Specialists attending Macworld.) Why not create an event around gathering testimonials. Invite your best customers for a networking social happy hour. Promote the event as a chance to network, swap stories and star in the creation of new marketing materials for your company. Give it a Hollywood theme. (This probably isn’t something you would do large scale, this is for those customers that are advocates already.) Hire a videographer and photographer and then throughout the course of the evening, let your customers cycle through the video seat to tell their story of success with your firm. Most people enjoy being on camera once they do it and the whole group will be entertained by the event and feed off of each other’s energy. (This is something you should be doing anyway so why not do it all at one time.) Yes, this is a bit of a self-serving event on the surface, so I do believe you need to be very selective about invitees and keep it very light and fun – participation in the testimonial part is completely voluntary. But, I think you will find that your customers think this is great too. (Wine helps) Another way to motivate your customers to participate is to offer to allow them to also create a quick video overview of their company while at the event that they can use in their own marketing efforts. Once you capture the video, audio and still photos from the event, you’ve got a testimonial and success story library that could infuse your marketing materials, broadcast and print ads for years. And, you’ve created a customer loyalty and community building event that just may become next year’s hottest party to crash! Related Posts: 7 ways to get more blog comments
  24. 24. 24 One of the best reasons to blog is to open up an interaction channel with your customers, prospects and contacts. The fact that your readers can comment and add relevant content to your site via blog comments is a major breakthrough in the communication process. It’s why everyone is talking about social media these days. Blog commenting was one of the first mass one to one conversation starters and made people hungry for even more advanced forms of social interaction. Active commenting is one of the first signs that a blog has some real life – with it comes more readers, so put in the work it takes to grow this important tool. Small business owners can easily take advantage of this tool now that so many people know what it is and know how to interact, but . . . you can do a few things to stimulate this interaction and draw more conversation. 1) Ask for comments - Sometimes just creating a post and in inviting your readers to add comments can be just what you need to get them flowing. Commenting is a habit that you need to help build in your readership. 2) Ask questions and seek opinions – From time to time ask your readers what they think of something or what they have done that works or how they have addressed a particularly challenging situation. You don’t need to have all the answers. 3) Comment on comments – When readers comment you can encourage additional conversation by responding and showing that comments are welcome – even if the comment calls something you said into question. I’m guilty of ignoring this far too often – I’ll get better, I swear! 4) Show some humaness – No matter what your blog topic is readers like to know that the author is a human being. It’s okay to let that show and to add personal thoughts. Only you can determine how far to go with this, but I know that your readers will connect the more they know your story 5) Stir the pot from time to time – You don’t have to be a celebrity gossip blogger to stir up a little controversy. Often some of my best interactions come from topics that people are decidedly passionate about. 6) Make comment participation a game – Keep score and reward your most active commentators. I have installed the WP Top Commentators Plug-in that keeps track of how many comments a particular reader makes and rewards them with a link. You can see it in the left sidebar. 7) Make sure commenting is easy – Publish your comment feed and consider adding a the Subscribe to Comments plug-in so that people get a notice when someone else comments on a post they are active on. So, what’s your hottest tip for encouraging blog comments? Related Posts:
  25. 25. 25 Use Testimonials for a Higher Return on Relationships How you can start a dialogue that makes business relationships happen By Dan Georgevich and Penny Davis, Directors, BNI-Michigan BNI members are always looking for ways to get a higher return on the time they invest developing their business relationships. Successful members will tell you that one very effective strategy is testimonials. Webster's dictionary defines testimonial as a "statement testifying to benefits received." It's amazing that something so simple can have a huge impact on the referral business you can generate for your referral sources and on the business your referral sources can generate for you. There are a few key questions that you can ask when you are trying to determine the best ways to use testimonials as part of your referral strategy:  Why should I give testimonials?  How can I create testimonials to give about others?  What's the best way to deliver a testimonial? Why should I give testimonials? Sure, when you give testimonials about others, it makes them feel good. But what are the real benefits to using testimonials in your strategy to generate more business for others? Testimonials are used to create credibility for the person in the spotlight. When you give a powerful testimonial about someone, the credibility and trust you create for him or her far outweighs anything that he or she can possibly say about him or herself. In fact, sometimes a strong testimonial, properly placed and effectively delivered, can create more value for an individual or business than a new client. One good testimonial can generate several new clients, and effective testimonials truly keep on giving. How can I create testimonials to give about others? One of the biggest challenges in creating testimonials for others is knowing where to find them. You can create testimonials about others using strategies such as:  Meeting one-on-one to learn about their business  Visiting their office or worksites  Asking to see testimonials letters they have received from their customers  Talking to their customers or clients and ask them what they think  Doing business with them What's the best way to deliver a testimonial? Decide who your audience is and the reason you are giving the testimonial. Some things to consider include deciding whether you'll be giving the testimonial in a one-on-one situation or in a group setting. Will you have collateral material or will your message be only spoken? Is it a personal introduction or are you endorsing someone with the hopes of making an introduction? Then you should focus on real-life success stories. The key to doing a great testimonial is to keep it brief. Your testimonial should spark interest and dialogue about the person you are edifying so a prospective client or customer can seek more information. The elements that make up a great testimonial include:  How long you've known the person and how you met them.  Did the person help you or someone you know? You will want to share briefly who was the recipient of the product or service provided.
  26. 26. 26  What did they do? Did they (a) save a client money (or help a client make more money), (b) solve some type of problem or (c) provide outstanding service or follow-up? Give your endorsement Support others and they will support you. The more testimonials you create and deliver for other people in your network, the more likely it is they create and deliver testimonials for you. Be a role model. Use the strategies discussed to support others and by doing so, demonstrate how others can provide the same for support for you. There are many appropriate places you can choose to deliver testimonials for others including:  Introducing them at a networking event  Introducing them at a meeting  Introducing them in your company newsletter  Bringing them up in conversation when you hear a need from someone they can help  Creating a testimonial "booklet" and placing it in your office or on your desk for your customers and clients to view When you give a testimonial about someone, you don't guarantee they will land a new customer or close a big contract. You do provide a starting point for a dialogue that can cause a business relationship to happen. Successful BNI members know that the time invested in making testimonials happen, for each other, can lead to a significant and fruitful return on relationships. How To Get Your Client To Sing Your Praises Louder Than Usual By Sean D'Souza Donny Osmond wasn't exactly the music I listened to when I was growing up. But there I was, at a backstage event, where Donny was answering a flurry of questions. Why I was at the event is kinda inconsequential. What Donny said was something that hit me like a ton of bricks. Are you ready for the ton of bricks to head your way? The interviewer was pulling no punches when he asked Donny, "So Donny," the interviewer says,” how did your brothers take it, when you became the focus of attention; when you became the star; and they were relegated to the background?” Donny hesitated. A serious look crossed his baby-face. "I didn't know," he said. "I didn't know how much my brothers resented me becoming the 'star.' Even when I was seven years old, I was always the centre of the photos, simply because I was the youngest. And it kind of balanced the photos, with my older brothers flanking me on both sides. But I hated being the centre, and being pushed those few steps ahead of them. Then I actually became the 'star,' years later, and I never realised the hurt, until my biographer did the interviews with my brothers."
  27. 27. 27 "I wasn't allowed at the interviews" "The biographer kept me out of it," Donny went on to say. "And when I read the chapters, I was taken aback. I just didn't know my brothers felt that way. I learned lots of good stuff, and also the niggly things I never knew existed." Donny isn't alone; you're in the dark too You may well believe that your clients love you. And they do. But as human beings, we hate to do two things. 1) We hate to praise someone to the skies. 2) We hate to criticise them, and make them feel bad. And the only time we hate to do these two actions, is when we're standing plonk in front of the person. We have no problem pouring our hearts out to a third-party If you've watched Oprah, you'll know exactly what I mean. This woman won't tell her husband what she thinks. She won’t say to his face, what she loves about her husband; or what bugs the heck out of her. And then in front of ten million viewers, she prattles away with no end in sight. Not unlike your client, I must add. If you ask your client for a testimonial... You get the brief, well-sanitised version of their version of the testimonial. But put a third-party in front of that very same client, asking the very same questions, and watch the responses go ballistic. Suddenly you'll hear a torrent of stuff that's good (and not-so-good) about you. The very same client. The very same questions. What changed? You know what changed. It was the third-party questioning, that’s what. But this third-party testimonial does bring up another question. The Good Stuff is Great: But Why Dredge the not-so-good stuff? Good question, that you instinctively know the answer to as well. You do things that bug clients. The client is too polite to tell you about the bugs, but the bugs exist nevertheless. By ferretting out the bugs through a third-party, you can fix the bugs, before they turn into nasty gremlins.
  28. 28. 28 Of course, you're more than happy to hear about the good stuff, aren't you? And yeah, those are the perks you didn't even know existed. So you win both ways. You get to puff and prance like a peacock, when you hear the good things being said about you. And you also get the chance to go in and fix the glitches right away. Which brings us to an action plan. How do you get outstanding third-party testimonials? Um...you've got to get a third party. Someone who can interview your clients. And that third-party needs to be armed with the right questions to create powerful, evocative answers. Make sure the third party records the session. And takes permission to use the testimonial as an audio, or as text. You can then post the audio on your website, or put it on a CD and have potential clients listen to it. You can take the text, and plaster it on every white space you can find in your ads, website, brochure. (Nope, just kidding! Not every white space!) What makes this exercise really exciting, is that third-party testimonials are way, way better than anything I’ve ever experienced. I used to think first-party testimonials were good enough And they are certainly dramatic (if you ask the right questions). But they don't come within twenty miles of a third-party testimonial. Because when it's third-party, the truth and nothing but the truth, comes tumbling out. The ugly, the bad, but mostly good stuff.Ask Donny. He'll tell you :) Five quick tips on sharing a good experience to help generate referrals: A Good Referral: Why Wait? Twenty-seven referrals within two hours: It sounds astonishing. How can anyone possibly get that many referrals in so short a time? And even if it's possible, surely they are leads rather than warmed-up referrals, right? But it is possible! Ian Denny, a member of Alpha Chapter in Liverpool, United Kingdom, tells us how easy it is. Since 2000, his company Multisolutions has generated in excess of £735,000 of business directly from his fellow BNI members. And along the way, he's helped many BNI members thrive by passing multiple referrals. In one case he referred one member 27 times—in one sitting! He shares how he did it without having to endure multiple awkward cold call conversations—which absorbs all your time. Ian writes: "I had a positive experience with a fellow BNI member, Jayne Smith of
  29. 29. 29 Document Direct, and wanted to refer her to as many people as possible. Jayne runs a team of virtual typists who transcribe dictated work for busy people. I was able to email Jayne a voice file, and within 12 minutes, I had it back as a beautifully transcribed and formatted Word document! "Instead of mentioning it to a few people over the next few weeks and months and giving Jayne the odd referral, I decided to immediately share the experience with people I knew." (Note: BNI only endorses sending testimonials to people you know well, never to strangers or mere acquaintances.) In an email to all his contact, Ian wrote about Jayne's great service and told them he would be meeting Jayne for coffee in a couple of days. If they wanted to learn more about her service, they should let him know. In the spirit of Givers Gain, he made it clear he was not being paid to say this; he only wanted others to experience similar great service. Guess what? Twenty-seven people responded. Lessons Learned We all share positive experiences, but it can take time to tell everyone you know. And after a while, the initial joy can diminish and you can lose momentum in telling others. So if you use the services of a fellow member and would recommend them, why not do it immediately? Four weeks after receiving those referrals, Jayne reported back: "From the 27 referrals, I was able to book 10 appointments immediately. Those who didn't want an appointment asked for more info by email—so there is the possibility of a future sale with some. So far I have managed to convert 50% of my appointments to a sale, which I estimate to be worth 30,000 pounds of business this year." Ian offers five quick tips on sharing a good experience to help generate referrals: 1) Tell it as it is. Explain the situation you were faced with and how this experience benefited you. And email it—you can reach more people quickly. When you have had a great experience, strike while the mood is with you. Don't let it diminish over time, or forget to recommend because time has lapsed since the experience. 2) Address your email personally. In your salutation, use the person's first name. Use an email merge if you know how. (If you don't, visit our website and contact me. I'll send a full overview of how to do this.) 3) A referral has to be an agreement from someone you know to receive a phone call from the person you are recommending. Mention that you are seeing the person you are recommending within the next week, and that if they reply "yes," you will pass on their contact details and ask them to call. 4) Be conversational. Do not write formally! You are referring someone you know to others that you know. So keep it light and friendly. 5) Make it clear that the only reason you are doing this is because you are delighted with the product or service you received—NOT because you receive a penny for doing so. So, go on, make a recommendation while the service experience is fresh—and enjoy helping a fellow BNI member thrive. How to Solicit Testimonials Without Being Annoying Posted By Lisa Barone On June 4, 2009 @ 9:00 am In Small Business Advice | 12 Comments
  30. 30. 30 [1] I mentioned yesterday how powerful customer testimonials can be as a method of [2] establishing Web site trust and credibility. But how do you ask for them without sounding needy, annoying or flat out driving people away? The truth is, it’s really not that hard. Happy people like sharing their experiences. They like being part of something exciting and cool. Sometimes they just need to be reminded to say something. We’re the ones that typically make it awkward. Customer testimonials help establish trust because they come from someone who has direct experience with your product. Thanks to the heavy hands of marketers, consumers place more trust in testimonials than they do in most other marketing messages. They believe that the average person is “like them” and isn’t offering the recommendation with an ulterior motive, which is what makes them incredibly powerful. Asking your customers to submit a testimonial to your Web site doesn’t have to be a painful process. In fact, you should be working several natural ways into everyday business.  Company Emailings: Chances are you have some kind of an email list developed. You may have a monthly newsletter that you send out, you require an email address for purchases, or you simply offer customers an opportunity to sign up for site alerts via email. However you are using those email addresses, create a natural way to solicit customer testimonials from inside company emailings. You never want to spam your customers, but if you’re sending a newsletter to someone who opted in to it, ask them to rate your company. Ask them what they like about you. Ask how their latest purchase went. Create a snippet at the bottom of your mailing that encourages and makes it easy for a customer to comment on your company. People want to talk to the companies they love. Give them that chance.  Order Confirmations/Follow Ups: When a customer purchases something from your Web site, you probably send them an order confirmation to let them know it’s been processed and that you appreciate their business. Seven to 14 days after that confirmation goes out, send them another email to follow up (there are auto responders that can help with this). Ask them how their experience was and whether or not they’d tell their friends about you. If the information they provide is valuable, ask them for permission to use it on your site to encourage other customers to make the same purchasing decision they did. Maybe even ask for a photo so that you can use to make their testimonial seem more real and credible.  Create an Event Around It: Not so long ago, Duct Tape Marketing’s John Jantsch had the idea to [3] create an entire event around gathering testimonials. The idea was to invite your best or most enthused customers in for a networking happy hour and, while they are there, to take photos, videos and gather feedback that you can use later. It’s a fun, easy way to bring happy people into your store and get them talking to you and about you. It’s even easier to put together now thanks to the frequency of tweetups and meetups. Often, people are already meeting up on their own. Invite them to do it with you and throw a party!  Offer incentives at checkout: We’ve all been there – you purchased a shirt you’re really jazzed about and the sales girl tells you if you call this number and answer a few questions, you’ll be submitted into a drawing. Only you never call. No one does. Those don’t work because as soon as you leave the store, you’ve already moved on and forgot about the offer. Instead, hand them the comment card right at checkout. Have it pre-populated with questions to guide good, specific testimonials, and tell them they’ll receive a discount or special gift if they fill it out before leaving today. It’s a lot harder for someone to say no when you’re staring them in the face and their endorphins are flowing from a recent buying spree.  Challenge them to create their own: We’re living in the era of user-generated content, right? Hold a contest asking your customers to submit the best company testimonial they can — challenging them to use video, images, audio, whatever they can think of. Not only will you get some incredible testimonials to use on your site, you’re also engaging the people who already love
  31. 31. 31 you and showing new customers how beloved you are in the community. You’re creating buzz around your brand. When someone leaves a testimonial, thank them. Let them know how much it means to you that they’re open to helping your business grow. And always get their permission before using it on your site or in your company literature. Just because they said it to you, doesn’t mean they’re okay with having their name tied to your site. It’s always better to ask than assume. When you get the testimonials, edit them if necessary, but don’t rewrite them. People can tell when testimonials are using real language or if they’ve been tweaked and manufactured by a marketing executive. Let customers use their own language…even if they’re not always the most eloquent when they do so. Remember, asking for a customer testimonial doesn’t have to be taboo or a burden to them. People like talking about the companies they love. Make getting feedback part of your daily business life and encourage your customers to speak up about you. Chances are they’re already talking about you in places like Twitter and in blogs, anyway. Attract new customers by showing them how happy you’re current ones already are. Who wouldn’t want to join that party? (Testimonials) Capture Your Success Stories Telling your success stories is vital to the growth of your business. Here are five ways to do this. 1. Ask for written. (Write samples to help clients get started.) 2. Write down two success stories that represent your preferred client and your strongest work. 3. Write a personal introduction for your network to use when making referrals. 4. Toot your own horn. Tell people about the good things your business does. 5. When someone gives you a testimonial at a BNI meeting, write it down and ask them for permission to use it. Well, I’m going to talk a little bit about Capturing Your Success Stories. I’ve talked about this in some of my books and on my blogs, and I think this is a great topic for the podcast. Many of us are taught as kids that we should refrain from bragging about our successes, but there’s a real caveat to those rules that our parents usually didn’t teach us, and it’s important to understand that it really helps our business to do certain things that capture our success stories. Now, success stories about businesses and entrepreneurs are really vital for those who are dedicated to learning all we can in order to make our own enterprise as successful as possible. There are four approaches that I want to mention to capture your success stories. One is to ask for written testimonials. Get satisfied customers or colleagues, certainly fellow BNI members who’ve used your services to write letters on their own letterhead to spotlight their positive experiences with you and your business. Here’s a recommendation that I have. If you are looking for a testimonial from somebody who is really successful, they will be a crown jewel in your list of testimonials. I recommend that you ask them if it’s okay if you write a couple of sample testimonials that they could look from, edit, and use themselves. Now, that sounds kinds of crazy, but the truth is, if you’re going after really, really, really busy business people and really successful business people – and let’s assume they’re happy with your services – they’d be glad to do you a testimony. The problem is they just don’t have the time to do it, so giving them a starting point that they can edit really helps a great deal. And it’s something that I’m often asked to write endorsements for books, and I’m always willing to do it, but last year we did almost 60 endorsements. And that can be almost a full-time job just doing
  32. 32. 32 endorsements. I’m exaggerating a little, but that’s a lot of work. And many of them gave me drafts to work from and then I added my own flavor to it, and it really helped expedite the process. And I think it works really well with testimonials. So that’s my first recommendation. Second one is a little briefer. Write down two success stories; highlight your successes to help your network; understand who best represents your preferred client. These stories should clearly emphasize what you do better than anyone else and use those success stories as examples, particularly in BNI, for people to understand the types of products or services that you offer so that they can better refer you. Third is to write a personal introduction. Provide your network with material that they can use when talking about you and your business with people who fit your preferred client profile. You don’t want your referral sales force making stuff up about you, and this really simplifies their task and ensures accuracy. So if you can write up a little brief statement, “Here’s what you can say about me when you meet someone who might be able to use my products or services.” For those people who are serious about trying to help you, it’s a great tool; it’s a great benefit. For BNI members, I’d recommend you definitely do that during your ten minute presentation. If you’re giving the Ten Minute Talk, here’s a great opportunity for you to give them something to walk away with to help them remember what you talked about. And number four, the last one, is toot your own horn. Tell people about the good things your business does. This isn’t about crowing over your amazing golf handicap or admitting your own fine taste in wine. It’s about spotlighting your business strengths as well as it being about the legitimate good works that you do in the community. There’s nothing wrong with letting people know some of the projects that you’ve worked on and your success with it. You can do it without being boastful. There are ways that you can do it. For example, if you’re the Ten Minute speaker, you have in your introduction some of that, so somebody else is talking about some of your successes rather than you, personally. But the more you can communicate your success stories to others, the more they will be confident in your ability to provide quality products or services. I think these are some really tangible techniques that BNI members can use to help increase their credibility at the chapter level. I think one of the real advantages to BNI is that you don’t actually have to say all that about yourself; you can get somebody who’s used the services to stand up in the meeting and give you a testimonial at that time. You bring up a great point, and I’ve never really thought about this. Here’s a fifth one. As people are giving you testimonials at a BNI meeting, jot it down. Try to capture the essence of what someone is saying. Type it up, e-mail it back to them, and say, “Thank you so much for the testimonial today. I really, really appreciate what you said. This is the essence of what I heard you say. Could you edit it, make any changes you want to make to it, and may I use it in my testimonial folder?” You just gave me a great idea. I think that’s a super technique to do, because I’ve never really thought about writing it down as you’re hearing it. But you’re right, and you want to capture those testimonials as much as possible. There’s also another way to record people’s testimonials and put it on an MP3, if you have a Web site. Yeah I think that’s a great idea. I think maybe having a combination on your Web site of some written testimonials as well as a few audio versions of it, or even video versions of it, are great suggestions, good stuff. Yeah. Well, have we come to the end? Do you have anything else you’d like to add? No I think that’s it for today. And what I’d love the BNI members to try some of these four and the fifth one that we added on; that’s a brand new idea, never tested it, love to hear how it works. So those of you who listen to this podcast, please feel free to give us some feedback, tell us what you like, and if you’ve done the fifth one, or when you’ve done the fifth one, get back on the podcast and post a message here on the bulletin board, because we’d love to hear how it works out.

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