Time to Test Some Testimonials
One of the most powerful marketing tools you have at your disposal doesn't cost a penny. I'm talking about testimonials.
You see, candid comments from satisfied customers who have used your product or service offer credibility that money just can't buy.
You can make claims about your product all day long, but your prospects know they are self-serving. On the other hand, rave reviews from objective users carry a lot of weight and can help you boost sales.
FOR THE RECORD: I want you to know that I practice what I preach. If you visit my Web site, http://www.levison.com, you'll see that the very first clickable item on my home page takes you to testimonials written by my clients. I put my testimonial link first because I consider these laudatory comments to be extremely persuasive.
What's the best way for you to use testimonials? Here are some practical ideas for you to consider:
1. Use testimonials wherever you can.
You can include them in sales letters, brochures, ads, on product boxes ... you name it. Consider putting several testimonials into a special area on a page surrounded by a fine-ruled box. You can set up the testimonials with the headline: "We're proud of what our customers have to say about us."
2. Keep them short.
A testimonial should be one, two, or three sentences long . . . unless you've got a real humdinger.
Remember, it's better to have many short testimonials than a few long ones. If, over time, you collect a number of great testimonials, you can make a life note out of them and include the piece in your direct mail package. This can really increase response rates.
3. Don't use anonymous testimonials.
If you're selling hemorrhoid cream, you can't expect someone to write a testimonial and then let you use their name and hometown. But if you're selling just about anything else, you need at least the person's full name. Initials just don't cut it.
4. Try to get testimonials that relate to specific benefits.
You don't want testimonials that are too general. As always, it's good to be specific!
WRONG: Cynthia's seminar was really great. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
RIGHT: Cynthia's time-management seminar showed me how to save the hour a day I was wasting. I sure can use those five extra hours a week!
WRONG: Thanks for writing the terrific e-mail invitation for our online seminar.
RIGHT: Thanks for writing the terrific e-mail invitation for our online seminar. The response rate was truly outstanding -- 300 percent better than we expected!
WRONG: Your organization-chart software is really wonderful. I love using it and recommend it.
RIGHT: Your organization-chart software is really wonderful because it shows who's who in the company at a glance. This means that all our new hires can get up to speed three times faster than they used to. I love using it and recommend it.
5. Use spontaneous compliments.
Let's imagine that you're talking to a customer or client and they say "Hey, your service is really fabulous. It's helped us cut costs by about 20 percent!" How do you respond? It's fine to say "Thanks very much. That's awfully nice to hear." But you should keep going and add, "Can I use those kind words in a testimonial? We're collecting the great things that our clients have to say about us, and I'd sure like to use what you've just said, if that's O.K."
See how easy it is?!
The take-away message this month? If you're not collecting and using testimonials, you're missing out big time!
Ivan Levison is a freelance direct response copywriter who works for companies like Bank of America, Fireman's Fund, Intel, Microsoft and many others. Levison writes direct mail sales letters, e-mail letters and ads. For a free subscription to his monthly e-mail newsletter for software marketers, visit his Web site at http://www.levison.com. He can be reached at (415) 461-0672 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.