Admit it. You've thought about creating fictionalized customer testimonials to give your business an edge or highlight a specific product.
(article continues below)
There is probably a real customer out there who would say the same thing as your fake customer, anyway. So when it comes down to it there's no harm in manufacturing a few comments from a customer that doesn't really exist, right?
Wrong! Writing fake customer testimonials is unprofessional and unethical. Unfortunately, it's also big business. In today's economy, there are untold ways to conveniently and cheaply generate bogus customer testimonials. From hiring an offshore writer to harvesting comments from an online testimonial generator (we couldn't make this stuff up), there have never been more ways for business owners to take the low road in customer testimonials.
Granted, it's easier to make up a testimonial than it is to solicit a real one. But before you fire up your testimonial fabrication machine, here are some points to consider:
- It's not easy to do fake testimonials well. Writing fake testimonials sounds easier than it really is. In the real world, customer testimonials come in a broad range of styles, voices, and perspectives. Reproducing that diversity in a way that will be believed by your customers can be a challenge, even for an experienced fabricator.
- Fake testimonials eliminate real feedback. Customer testimonials are more than a promotional device – they represent a pipeline of customer feedback. If you fake your testimonials, you shut that pipeline down and make it difficult to hear what your customers really think about your products.
- Fake testimonials lead to false expectations. People who fake customer testimonials say dramatic things about the products they are trying to promote, creating a set of false expectations with prospective customers. If your products fail to live up to the expectations created by your fake endorsements – look out!
- There are consequences if you get caught. If your customers catch you using fake testimonials, your reputation will suffer substantial damage, especially if someone makes it their mission in life to expose your deception to the local or online community.
- Fake testimonies damage your integrity. Even if you are able to keep your fake testimonials a secret from your customers, you will have to live with the fact that you have failed to live up to your own high expectations for yourself. For most small business owners, that alone is enough reason to avoid fake testimonials and instead do the hard work involved with earning real ones.