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If you were looking for a dentist to correct some dental problems that have been bothering you, what would influence you more as a consumer: A slick ad in the Sunday paper, or a conversation with a neighbor who reports that last week he had the most amazing experience at the dentist’s office – they treated him like royalty, the procedure happened on time and was painless, they were sensitive to his concerns, they offered him flexible payment terms, and they gave him a free toothbrush on the way out?
Or, if you had to make a decision about a lunch spot for tomorrow, what would influence you most? A coupon that arrives in the mail for a deal on pizza, or the people at work who come back from lunch raving about the new pizzeria that just opened around the corner that was so good, they can’t wait to take you there tomorrow?
You get the picture – that’s the power of customer testimonials, and the reason to use reference accounts, existing customers who’ve had a very positive experience with you and whose testimony can influence the decisions of prospective customers. These references accounts can be a powerful tool of persuasion. Customer testimonials are reliable, honest, and unbiased.
Customer testimonials speak louder than other marketing language
Elizabeth Topp, a home-based life coach in Los Angeles says, “As a life coach supporting people in their personal growth and transformation, my product is challenging to promote through advertising verbiage. So when I have clients who are happier, more empowered and moving toward their goals, they become my greatest marketing asset.” As Elizabeth’s clients start noticing their own improvement, she’s quick to capture that in the form of customer testimonials. “When I create marketing literature, it’s the testimonials of my clients that provide the best information about my business.”
This is true in her promotional materials, but also in her everyday dialogue with prospects. “When I talk to new potential customers, I usually use names of previous customers to create an air of credibility for my business,” Elizabeth says, “even though most of the time the person considering my services never actually dials up the references at all.” Just the fact that she’s able to drop the name builds confidence on the part of her prospect.
Make the most of customer testimonials
- Get testimonials in writing: Ask your current customers for a written testimonial you can share with other potential customers
- Make it free: Consider offering your product or service for free to get your first customers who can act as reference accounts
- Use a “Case Study”: Present prospects with a “case study” showing how you satisfied a particular customer. Walk through it step by step.
- Give out phone numbers: Letting prospects dial up your existing customers enables them to get information straight from your customers and to explore special concerns and interests that weren’t covered in the written testimonial.
Even once you’re rolling in revenue and you can support a big advertising budget, you may find that the most powerful and effective strategy remains customer testimonials.
Our Bottom Line
Next time a customer says to you, “Wow, I can’t thank you enough.” Tell them, “Actually, yes you can.” They can thank you enough by putting their gratitude in writing. Get customer testimonials from existing clients so you can acquire new ones. Reference accounts speak volumes, so let them speak for you.