Face It, Testimonials Work
(A case study from the July 2006 issue of Inside Direct Mail)
The testimonial: A time-tested approach to selling that makes its mark by giving a voice to the customer—the 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.”