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Copyright 2006

Testimonials
by Tash Hughes

Testimonials are informal reviews of something Ė people give their opinion of a product or service and often include words of thanks or detail how the good or service was of use to them.

They can be a very useful business tool, especially as they donít cost money to get or use.

Whatís so good about using testimonials?

As a business owner, you believe in your product or service and know all of its features. Your website and advertising materials can list of all of these features and even your personal guarantee, but that doesnít mean everyone will be convinced.

After all, some sales and business people would say anything to get a sale wouldnít they? Why should potential customers trust that you are telling the complete truth?

On the other hand, if a previous customer refers them to you, they already have reason to trust you and your product or service. Word of mouth advertising is highly effective but not always reliable nor widespread.

Including testimonials from satisfied customers gives a different perspective to potential customers. As they donít have a financial investment in future sales, they have no reason to lie so have instant credibility. Their words are also coming from a customer perspective so the benefits they mention will attract other customers.

In short, using testimonials can increase your sales without much effort on your part.

Isnít it bragging? 

Sharing positive words about your business provides information to customers in a non threatening way; listing all the advantages yourself is probably closer to bragging than any third party testimonial.

Think about buying a new book. The title and cover catch your interest but youíre not sure if you want to buy this particular book. You read the blurb on the back and the short reviews from major papers or famous authors. The reviews are good and give you an idea of the bookís style so you make a decision.

Those reviews on the back of the book were simply testimonials. Did you consider the author was bragging by having them on the back cover? Or was it a useful way of learning about the book?

As long as you donít include too many testimonials or hype them up, testimonials will not come across as you bragging or showing off; they will be a legitimate way of reassuring potential customers about your business.

Where to find testimonials

Sometimes, youíll be lucky and happy customers will spontaneously tell you how great your business is. The rest of the time, youíll need to be proactive about it.

It isnít hard to get testimonials and most people wonít mind doing one if they were happy with what you provided.

You can make it easy for customers by having a feedback form on your website, in product packaging or in newsletters.

Alternatively, just ask! If a customer is happy, ask if theyíd say so in writing so you can use that as a testimonial.

It is best to let customers know you are using their words publicly as a testimonial, and include their business name if appropriate as this gives something back to them as well.

You may also find some unexpected testimonials on various web communities or review sites. Unless the reviews are explicitly available for use, ask the person(s) involved before using these testimonials publicly.

One you have collected and used a few testimonials, you may find new customers are more likely to volunteer their opinions as they can see you use them sensibly.

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Tash Hughes is the owner of Word Constructions and assists businesses in preparing all written documentation and web site content. Tash also writes articles for magazines, newsletter and websites.


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