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The where, who, why and what of using testimonials to boost your business

Expert advice to businesspeople from Debbie Miles from the West Berkshire Athena Network

The where, who, why and what of using testimonials to boost your business

Debbie Miles

In my corporate job before joining the Athena Network, one of my responsibilities was to collect positive feedback from customers, document it as a testimonial and make it available to our prospects.

It was a very effective way of encouraging peer-to-peer recommendations and influencing top-level buying decisions.

After all who would you rather believe? A company’s marketing blurb or the feedback from real customers?

Working now with small businesses, I can see how valuable this relatively simple and cost-effective exercise really is.

Face-to-face networking is a key route to developing your fan base, but this marketing tool can also be used to enhance the credibility and visibility of your business.

If your audience trusts the person giving it, the testimonial is worth many times more than any potentially biased description of your product or service.

Why ask for a testimonial?

While our marketing communications can convey the detail of our products and services, it is essential to gather customer feedback for our own use in order to make improvements.

Positive feedback is invaluable for finding out what we are doing right, so we can build on it and share with and influence the buying decisions of potential customers.

The additional benefit is to the customer, who will feel valued and may themselves profit from the visibility.

Who should you ask?

For a testimonial you will naturally want to ask customers who have had a positive experience with your products and services.

You will also want to consider your target audience when choosing who to invite to talk about their purchase.

What should it say?

Of course, your referee will need to introduce themselves and to describe the product or service they bought.

They should be as specific as possible as to what was special or unique about their experience; a generic statement won’t give enough authenticity or useful information to the audience.

Ideally, you want your customer to quantify the value added, especially in terms of a limited resource.

Did it save or make them money or perhaps it saved them valuable time?

Even more important though is for them to talk about how it made them feel.

Where should you use it?

Testimonials can be collected in many formats such as a written document, online or a video podcast.

They can then be used at exhibitions and conferences, face-to-face sales situations, marketing collateral, websites and social media.

Be careful though, that you have detailed permission from the person quoted as to where you can use it and whether they’re happy for their name to be included.

Testimonials are a powerful way to enhance your kudos in your marketplace.

Investing time in collecting that feedback and using it across your many marketing channels will ensure the best results and facilitate conversion of your prospects into valuable customers.

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