Face It, Testimonials Work
The testimonial: A time-tested approach to selling that makes its mark by giving a voice to the customerthe person who already tried X and now believes in it wholeheartedly. But do prospects always believe testimonials are the real deal? Liberty Reverse Mortgage (LRM) didn't want to take any chances, so it gave a little face time to two very important people.
In a 5-1/4" x 7-1/4" effort received in the Who's Mailing What! Archive in March, LRM teases prospects into the envelope with the words "DO NOT BEND" and "PHOTO ENCLOSED" on the outer. Once inside, the prospect finds a yellow slip of paper with a blue, handwriting-style font accompanied by a faux Polaroid of a smiling, older woman (Archive code #535-705794-0604).
The letter writer introduces herself as Mrs. Jean Kelly. Her testimonial paints a vivid picture:
"I thought when I retired that everything was going to be just roses. Turned out the golden years weren't quite so golden. Money was tight. I was pretty scared."
However, after finding LRM, Mrs. Kelly gushes:
"Today, I feel like the world has been lifted off my shoulders. ... I'm the happiest person around!"
According to Greg Hayes, vice president of corporate communication at LRM, "This is a real testimonial that was offered by one of our clients." And not just any client. Apparently, Mrs. Kelly is quite the hit at the office. "We've received many thank-you notes [from her]," says Hayes, "and she's done quite a bit of knitting for various employees with whom she came in contact."
This lovable woman seemed the perfect face for the company, especially since research points to single females as the target audience for reverse mortgages. And the picture accompanying the testimonial really is Mrs. Kelly, though it was never a real Polaroid. "It's a still taken from a testimonial video," says Hayes, "It was designed to look like a Polaroid."
In keeping with this one-to-one approach, LRM gave its customer service department some face time as well: Chris Thrasher, LRM's director of client care, signs the letter. "As director of client care," the letter begins, "I get to know delightful clients like Mrs. Jean Kelly."
To further hit home the personal approach, the note invites the reader to call Thrasher directly. Naturally, we were curious if anyone asked for him by name, and according to Hayes, Thrasher is available for anyone to speak with. "We don't get many calls with people specifically asking for him, but will put them through if he's available." Thrasher's photo, with his name and title, appears on the top-half of the BRC, reminding prospects that this person is waiting to take their calls and start a relationship with themjust as he did with Mrs. Kelly.
Granted, Thrasher didn't actually write the letter. It was the product of a combined effort on the part of Hayes and LRM's direct mail partner, Rauxa Direct. But the idea is there. This effort takes a very human approach to something that could normally be considered quite hands-offa financial business transaction.