Famous Last Words: How to Use Testimonials
I am continually astonished at the number of mailings and ads I see that fail to contain testimonials from delighted customers.
Testimonials are a strong lift element in a mailing or ad. Your claims are more believable and prospects feel good about doing business with you. In the words of the late advertising legend, David Ogilvy, “If one testimonial tests well, try two. But don’t use testimonials by celebrities, unless they are recognized authorities, like Arnold Palmer on golf clubs.” Ogilvy was talking more about spokespersons than testimonials from happy users.
The generally recognized sequence of events in marketing is (1) find a suspect; (2) make the person a prospect; (3) turn that person into a customer (or donor); (4) convert him into a renewer, multibuyer or regular customer or donor. Nirvana is (5) the person becomes an advocate—likes you so much that he gives you a testimonial and referrals.
A Copywriter Gets Nailed
In January 2006, as part of settlement for allegedly false and misleading advertising for a dietary supplement, copywriter Chase Revel was ordered by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to “post a $1 million performance bond before advertising, marketing or selling any food, drug, dietary supplement, device or health-related service. As part of the settlement, he also will pay $27,500 for consumer redress.”
“Consumers have a right to expect the ads they read to be truthful,” said Lydia Parnes, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Anyone who cooks up false or misleading claims in an ad—from those who write them to those who sell the product—will be held accountable.”
Quite simply, in an ad or a mailing, if you promise people that they can eat all they want of everything they love and lose 30 pounds in 30 days, you likely will get into trouble with the FTC.