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Message & Media : In Their Own Words

Add credibility to your marketing messages through the use of your customers’ comments and reviews

July 2010 By Pat Friesen
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One of the most effective ways to neutralize buying objections and add credibility to your product benefit statements is to let your customers speak on your behalf.

Words enclosed in quotation marks carry implied authority and grab the reader's eye quicker than words that aren't. Customer comments can also transform a commodity product or service, such as lawn care or auto insurance, into a one-of-a-kind standout.

Comments and reviews also help customers research and compare products through the eyes and experiences of customers who have already purchased.

This means customer product reviews and testimonial comments can be powerful additions to just about anyone's marketing messages—B-to-B, B-to-C; including educational institutions, healthcare providers and services such as travel or pest control.

While customer testimonials have long been a staple of direct mail letters and catalog copy, online customer product reviews now make it easier than before for customers to share favorable (and not so favorable) opinions about your company and what you sell. Prospective buyers love these candid insights.

How can you harness the power of your customers' opinions about you and all you offer? The first step is to make it easy for people to share their opinions.

Start by soliciting customer reviews on your website and via post-order e-mails—even weeks or months after the product or service is delivered. You can also use package inserts and follow-up postcards to request your customers' input.

Most importantly—however you solicit customer feedback—make it clear you're interested in hearing both pros and cons. You'll build more credibility when you share a spectrum of honest customer assessments. They can also help you correct problems with products and customer service.

Check with your legal advisor about whether or not you need a release before publishing anything, then create a systematic process for screening and using the comments/reviews you receive.

Here are 14 opportunities to let your customers speak on your behalf.

1. Include a customer comment in your letter copy as the Johnson box, opening "grabber sentence or supporting sidebar story—even your P.S. Use quotation marks or italics to make these words stand out as being different from the rest of the copy and add a human element.

2. Add comments from longtime buyers to your requests for customer referrals. Consumers like to be associated with other smart shoppers.

 

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