Customer testimonials are an often overlooked resource in many small businesses.
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From an advertising perspective, the firsthand testimony of a happy customer can be worth as much or more than a full-page of professionally produced advertising copy.
Despite their effectiveness, many entrepreneurs fail to take advantage customer testimonials simply because they require planning and intentionality on the part of the business owner.
Here are a six time-tested moves to add to your marketing repertoire that will help you get the most out of customer testimonials.
#1 Constantly collect testimonials.
One of the secrets to leveraging the power of customer testimonials is to always be in collection mode. Testimonials can come to you through a number of avenues. When a customer complements your products, write it down. When a client sends a letter thanking you for your services, keep it. Maintain a file of the testimonials you collect. You may even want to call key customers and clients to ask them if they are satisfied with your service. More often than not, you'll walk away from the conversation with a great customer testimonial.
#2 Be discriminating about the testimonials you use.
Sure, you appreciate all of your customers' testimonials. But face it, some are better than others. Just because you get a testimonial from a customer doesn't mean that you have to use it. A badly worded or goofy testimonial can actually have a negative effect on your business, so use judgment in deciding which ones will be best able to convey your message to potential customers.
#3 Stay current.
Unlike fine wine, testimonials don't necessarily get better with age. In fact, sometimes testimonials can become irrelevant, outdated, and stale. It's important to use current testimonials that accurately reflect the products and services your business provides now, and not five years ago. This doesn't require a complicated record-keeping system - just a few minutes every now and then spent culling through the testimonial folder.
#4 Target testimonials.
Consider targeting your testimonials to reach specific markets. For example, if you are trying to market your products to stay-at-home moms, then use the stay-at-home mom testimonials to promote your products. Sometimes collecting these testimonials may require a bit of initiative on your part, but the results will be worth the effort.
#5 Use the internet.
One of the best sources for quality, customer testimonials may be your company's website. This is a one-stop resource for customer's to check out your products and provide feedback. Some of the feedback will undoubtedly come in the form of customer complaints. But there will also be more than a few positive comments about your company. Talk to your website designer to make sure your site has a mechanism for sending comments to your business.
#6 Get permission.
This seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes in the "busyness" of business you can forget to ask your customers for permission to use their testimonial. While this is important advice for all customer testimonials, it is absolutely essential if you are going to attach the customer's personal or company name to it.