Customer Testimonials The Copywriter's Problem-Solver
Whether you're involved in business-to-consumer or business-to-business direct marketing; whether your communications vehicle is e-mail, a catalog, direct mail or space advertising; or whether you're trying to beat a control or spark your new customer acquisition efforts, the sooner you start allowing your customers to speak on your behalf, the better. Testimonials are one of the most powerful marketing tools you have available to you.
Testimonial Treasure Chest
Here are some tips for how to put testimonials to work in your direct marketing program:
>Have a company-wide system in place for gathering testimonials. Good sources are customer service, salespeople and white mail.
>Don't confuse celebrity endorsements with "real people" testimonials. They're not the same, and your prospective customers—who value useful information to help them make the right buying decisions—know the difference. Endorsements are paid. Testimonials are earned.
>Build a library of positive comments. Most companies receive white mail from customers who either love them or have problems. Follow up on both, but be sure to save the positive comments.
>Get a signed release that gives you permission to use a testimonial. When you get a testimonial worthy of use in future advertising, thank the customer for his or her kind comments, then officially request permission to use it.
>Tell the customer your company's policy for identifying testimonial sources in advertising. Lands' End
e-mail uses first names and states only. The Title Nine Sports catalog for women (see sample page, above) identifies customer models—a visual testimonial—by first name, occupation and a variety of other specifics including favorite food, car, last book read and role model. The goal is to be as specific (and appropriately credible) as possible without intruding on the individual's personal privacy.
>Encourage testimonials by inviting customers to send you their comments. Make the invitation available on your Web Site, on your order form and in package inserts that go out with every order. Periodically, call a panel of recent buyers. Make sure to write down their comments and get releases.