How to tell a story that connects, captivates,
and inspires an audience to take action.
Introduction: Implementation Guideline
What is testimonial storytelling?
Who can be featured?
Who are the stories for?
Through what channels?
Table of Contents:
“Attention is the reward that listeners bestow on the storyteller.”
– Steve Denning, Forbes
Storytelling is the most compelling way to get someone
to take in information, to create a connection, to
capture attention. Not only is storytelling an effective
way to show how the Center can help future clients and
encourage someone to take action (i.e., make an
appointment), testimonial storytelling is user-
generated content. That is, the Center’s clients’
experiences, recommendations, reviews, etc., are
already in existence.
The Center has the opportunity to share those stories
with others to shed light on how they too can get help.
This “Testimonial Storytelling Implementation Guideline”
provides recommendations for how a Story Page and other
testimonial storytelling types can greatly help the Center draw
in new clients.
Our Georgetown Public Relations & Corporate
Communications Cause Consulting team hopes this will help
The Women’s Center to find more ways to share the incredible
ways it has helped and continues to help so many women,
men, and children.
What is testimonial
A story about how The Women’s Center
has impacted a specific person’s life.
People are compelled to listen to stories. If told well,
testimonial stories compel people to share that story, or take
action. You want your audience to do both:
1) Tell others about the Center’s impact
2) Make an appointment with the Center
The rest of your website and marketing materials are generally
more universal in nature - speaking to the faceless “you” about
a group of people the Center helps based on a situation or
need. A testimonial story is the chance for you to bring the true
impact the Center has had on a specific person to life for
Luckily, the Center fares better than Calvin in the comic to the
left, at least with regards to inspiration. The great thing about
testimonials is that they are user generated. This means that
the inspired piece, the creativity necessary for the story,
already exists. It lies in what your past and current clients send
to you and provide you with in the form of letters, feedback,
surveys, thank-you cards, etc.
All the Center needs to do is transform those testimonials
Situation Analysis: You’re doing great! And now you can
Our Georgetown team saw the YouTube video, “Paige’s Story,”
and loved it. The video encapsulated exactly what a testimonial
story is. It is compelling, truthful, and this one was so raw and
However, Paige’s story was shared only in the Center’s
newsletter in relation to the gala. Yet her story, and many
others like it or about other situations the Center has helped
with, can be related to a greater audience – everyone.
Share The Women’s Center’s story by sharing the stories of
those you have helped.
The Recommendations section on the Center’s Facebook page.
is miles ahead of what other similar non-urgent care services
provide. This is a great resource to have, even if it is not yet
popular, because this advertises the fact that the Center is
calling for recommendations – and that people have spoken.
The more you tell the Center’s stories of how it has
impacted others, the more conversations will be sparked
“It’s important to have some place to go … a safe place and safe people … and I don’t know
what I would have done without The Women’s Center.”
Who are the
This audience includes people who already go to The Women’s
Center – for workshops, volunteering opportunities, clinical
services, and more. In order to encourage crossover clients -
clients turning to the Center for multiple, various services –
showing them what else is available is key.
These are people referred to the Center or who stumble across
your services. Their interest will more likely turn into action
(i.e., calling to set up an appointment).
Testimonial storytelling is the perfect tool for reaching
both types of audiences.
Who can be
Show future volunteers, donors, clients
see who is dedicated to the various
causes the Center supports. Show
volunteers and their families at events,
after events, in medias res.
Let people meet the instructors they will
pay to see.
Seeing who donates funds, who provides
for these services, is integral. These are
people helping too.
The staff. Your enthusiasm and
dedication to helping and serving is
inspiring. Share your shared successes,
funny experiences, poignant moments.
Paige’s story was incredible and
touching. Stories like that are what
make people see the impact the Center
There’s nothing wrong with the classic editorial
structure for a web page testimonial story. It’s what
people are comfortable with, and that can work in your
favor. Start with a compelling hook line, then expand.
Your audience is reading your client’s story because
they can relate, empathize. Enhance the blocks of text
with a photo or a brief audio clip (e.g., the client saying,
“My name is XYZ, and this is my story.”).
A couple of paragraphs from the client’s perspective
works perfectly. Introduce the situation, who the client
is, how he/she found the Center, what you and the
client accomplished together. If the client writes his or
her own story, that’s great! If not, be sure to include
your client’s quotes and write from that person’s
Story Page (i.e., hardcopy,
Make the client the actor versus the subject. (e.g., “Paige found
it within herself to call the Center, to make an appointment,
and then to speak about what happened. She was proud of
having the strength to take action after many years of silence,
and the Center was there when she needed it.” Rather than:
“The Women’s Center helped Paige to learn to speak about
what happened to her.”)
To help with conciseness and clarity, ask yourself, “Does this
matter to a future client?” after every sentence. If the answer is
no, it’s perfectly fine to delete it. These days, with people’s
rapidly deteriorating attention spans, shorter is better.
Pratham International has truly testimonial stories
on their “Impact” pages. See Kartik’s story here:
The Red Cross also has wonderful stories on its “Real
Life Stories” web page:
Using a few photos with captions to tell a person’s story
or putting together a photo gallery/slideshow is an
effective way to immediately garner interest.
Photo (e.g., real life event
photos, stock photos):
Housing Works includes great quotes with photos of
those who provided their testimonials on the front of
their main page:
You can create a web page for videos like Paige’s Story.
Merely embed the video, include a caption or short
summary, and that’s a great testimonial story to add to
Video (i.e., just like Paige’s
For anything posted on your web site – on a story page,
for example – you should post on your social media
channels to promote the story’s addition. If you choose
to post Paige’s story on a web page, you can Tweet
about it with a link, and you can also post on Facebook
with a brief summarizing sentence to entice others to
click a link to the video and hear Paige’s testimonial.
Social Media (i.e., Facebook,
Please refer to the Social Media Playbook for further guidance.
This doesn’t just mean use visuals. It means bring your
audience into the moment. With a text-based story, ask the
storyteller to describe how things felt, the physical setting
(sights, smells, sounds), actual dialogue as remembered. If
possible, provide a photo for each name so readers can
visualize the people, the places.
Don’t make the story’s focus on the Center, at least not initially,
but about your client and his or her story – on the impact the
Center has had.
True, compelling stories have a beginning, middle, and end. We
don’t always know how the story ends, but it’s best to end the
story on a positive, opportunity-filled note. Even if there is a lot
more help to be had, if your client sees improvement, if the
Center has had even the smallest impact, that is a great ending
Do not try to polish the language or writing in your testimonial
stories. Apart from punctuation or spelling edits, keep
everything as authentic as possible to truly let your client
Story Page Sample
(for a video):
Because you already have such a touching,
impactful story in the video about Paige,
you can get a head start and create a web
page for that testimonial story.
In the sample to the right, the video is
embedded in the web page. There is a one-
paragraph description below it, as well as a
very important quote from the video. That
quote further draws in people viewing this
web page, makes them want to know more
about Paige, about how she overcame her
struggle, and how The Women’s Center was
there to help.
The Women’s Center has the tools it
needs to show future clients how it can
help. You just need to spread the word.
Story Page Sample
(for a photo):
The Women’s Center touches so many lives,
and people continue to shower you with
praise. Letters, thank you and greeting
cards, workshop feedback, survey results –
all of these are forms of testimonials.
The Center has the opportunity to turn
those testimonials into stories. Share those
positive words and good will with future
clients. Show your future clients how they
too may be impacted, how they can get help
from the Center.
We hope this Implementation
Guideline has been helpful!