Let customers’ testimonials praise good work

Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series on optimizing a sales page.

Whether you’re a well-known company that’s been around for years or the new guy or gal on the block, establishing credibility for your business is vital.

Every potential customer wants to know the benefits of doing business with you. Once their interest has been piqued and they’re seriously considering your product or service, they want to know that your company is a viable business, one they can trust and count on.

How do you get prospects to know, like and trust you? How do you let others know that your product really does what you say it does or that your company is reputable in its field?

I strongly believe in the power of praise that comes from your customers and satisfied clients, past and present. As ad man David Ogilvy said, “If you include a testimonial in your copy, you make it more credible. Readers find the endorsements of fellow consumers more persuasive than the puffery of anonymous copywriters.”

When it comes to using the words of others, here are 4 important points to remember.

• Get permission from the person you’re quoting before you use their comments in any way.

• Don’t use testimonials without names, if you can help it. They lack credibility. You can either use a person’s full name along with a city and state and/or company name; first initial and full last name with city, state and/or company name; first and last initials with city, state and/or a company name; or a person’s title, again with a city, state and/or company name.

• Use specific testimonials. A quote that says, “Debra is great!” doesn’t tell my readers much about why they should use my services. However, one that reads, “Debra quickly absorbed all facets of the mail campaign and turned around copy that was 100 percent on target” lends much more credibility to me and my ability as a copywriter.

• A word about celebrity testimonials. If you can afford to have a well-known person back your product or service, be sure that it makes sense for him or her to endorse you.

Martina Navratilova is a good choice for endorsing tennis rackets or apparel but not for motor oil. Let Mario Andretti do that.

Ogilvy agreed that, “Testimonials increase credibility and sales. But don’t use testimonials by celebrities, unless they’re recognized authorities, like Arnold Palmer on golf clubs.”

“If you have a great product or service, you have an almost inexhaustible source of great copy practically free — written by your own customers,” explained veteran writer Bob Stone. “They will come up with selling phrases straight from the heart that no copywriter, no matter how brilliant, would ever think of. They will write with a depth of conviction that the best copywriters will find hard to equal.”

Now you may be reading this and thinking, “How do I enhance my credibility when I don’t have any testimonials on file? What do I do now?” Don’t worry. Some simple approaches can fill your files with praise.

Have people approached you and given you unsolicited verbal testimonials? If so, ask for their permission to use what they said.

Many times my clients or seminar attendees email me with praise. I immediately respond and ask for their permission to use their comments in the future. I’ve never had any of them say “no” to my request.

Ask people for their input. There’s nothing wrong with doing this. Put together a short letter asking your clients for feedback. If you like, drop me an email and I’ll send you a copy of the letter I use when I’m requesting testimonials from my clients.

“Setting up a methodical testimonial-soliciting program, you can increase tenfold your effective use of testimonials,” Stone said.

So, when you’re looking for ways to market yourself and wondering what to do next, turn to your customers. Give them the chance to praise your good graces. Don’t be afraid to ask them for constructive criticism as well; it will help you provide better service in the future.

Debra Jason, owner of The Write Direction, has more than 25 years of experience in direct marketing. Contact her at 303-443-1942 or debra@writedirection.com.

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