Marketing, Sales, Publicity

Q&A: Don't be shy with testimonials

Donna Richardson
of Peppermint Grove, Western Australia asks:

I started a B2B business six months ago and am struggling. I produce a great product which my existing customers love. I just don’t have enough customers and my bank balance doesn’t give me the freedom to promote as I want. Could you give me some guidance on how to increase my customers with little money. Thanks.

Kenelm Tonkin, Chairman, Tonkin Corporation

Congratulations. Your customers love your product! If you are cash-strapped, I’d start with this good news and simply build on it. You need to transform all your satisfied customers into an instant sales force. Here’s how:

Step 1: Talk to your customers about their satisfaction with your product. Ask how it can be improved. Gauge the extent of their satisfaction.

Step 2: Explain that you are a small business only 6 months old and that you live or die by what people say about your product.

Step 3: Be bold. Ask for a written testimonial. Tell them you only need a short one, short meaning a maximum of two sentences.

Step 4: Make it easy for them. Offer to write a draft testimonial. Give them the option of just replying “approved” or making some edits to the draft.

Step 5: If your customer engages, push a little further. Suggest the testimonial would be more persuasive with a photograph. Again, make it easy. With their permission, copy their photograph straight from LinkedIn if it has sufficient resolution or ask them to email it to you. They will have the photograph if it’s already on LinkedIn.

Step 6: Complete the testimonial by including the person’s full name, job title, company and date. I am amazed how many companies use just a first name as if such anonymity somehow builds credibility. You want prospects to feel safe with their purchase of your product. Transparency is everything. Your testimonials must withstand the bright light of scrutiny. So the date is important too. Yes, the testimonial’s impact will fade as it ages, but you have a riveting, credible sales tool for at least a year.

Step 7: After collecting seven written testimonials which have a full name, job title, company, date and photograph, graduate to video testimonials. You need to reserve these for your most accommodating, influential customers. Organise a time to meet the person in his office. Take a professional videographer. This is not the time for DIY because the production values are vital. You need an expert in technology, lighting, colour, editing and set dressing.

Step 8: After assembling a portfolio of written and video testimonials, plaster them in every distribution channel you have. This is no time to be shy. Now your customers are your sales force.

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