Testimonials and recommendations. We all know that we need them for our career and for our businesses. In my blog, Why You Need Testimonials for Your Business, I explore the rationale. This edition focusses on the process of how to get testimonials for your business.
I know that people are busy and actually hate the idea of writing a testimonial. It’s something that gets pushed to the bottom of the pile. People don’t feel comfortable writing and putting words on what they are thinking – unless of course, they are a writer – but in the main, it’s outside people’s comfort zone.
Despite knowing that they are necessary, there is a real fear attached to asking for them. Perhaps this is rooted in a fear of rejection or not believing that you are worthy of a testimonial. So the first thing to work on is the testimonial mindset.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Was your communication and preparation professional and on point?
- Did you provide a good service or product to your client?
- Have you responded to any queries, challenges, requirements for trouble-shooting in a timely fashion?
- Do you do a good job or provide a good service?
If the answer is yes to these questions, then I’m pretty sure you’re in a good place to ask for a testimonial.
I try to take the pain out of this process. After a service or product has been delivered, the crucial element here is time.
Time is of the essence.
You want to capture the essence of what someone is thinking and feeling around the time they have purchased the product or when the experience of your service is fresh in their minds.
If you are on site with the customer, ask them then and there if they’d be happy for you to touch base the next day /next week re getting a testimonial. If you can get into the practice of this, you’re flexing that ‘awkward, uncomfortable’ muscle and it’ll become much easier over time. I promise! The hardest part of asking is now done.
Now the customer is expecting a call or an email. I always advocate picking up the phone to talk to the customer, but if needs be, you can always pop off an email.
I always give the client two options to consider.
The customer writes the testimonial themselves and emails it over. I always mention where it will be used, just so they are aware. If it’s a personal recommendation, I use Linkedin as my default and I mention that I may copy over the content to other platforms such as proposals, website and social media.
And this is the option that most people choose. I offer to write the testimonial for them and send it back for editing or sign off. While in conversation, I ask them to describe what they are thinking or feeling and I focus on the adjectives used to help me craft a few lines for the testimonial. Listen out for those descriptor words and phrases that are used to describe your product or service.
Whichever option is chosen, remember to ask permission to use the client’s name and business name. Depending on the business, this may or may not be appropriate to use, particularly if something is sensitive in nature.
Where to Start
My advice here is go slowly and with a plan. If you are out with a customer, then start today. Getting started and asking the first time is the hardest…it gets easier after that.
Some ideas on starting might be:
- Working backwards and contacting the clients you have worked with most recently.
- Working alongside your business growth strategy for a product or service and identifying the areas of growth. Then audit the clients you have in each area, work out who you have the best relationship with and starting reaching out.
- Contacting repeat clients first.
What To Say
If the business is new and fresh, then you already know to capitalise on the good vibes.
If it’s been a while since you’ve reached out to the customer, then perhaps you can say:
‘I’m doing a little refresh and update on my marketing content and I’m looking to build up some testimonials for my business. We worked together on XX and I’d be very grateful to receive a recommendation from you. Could I arrange a 5 minute call with you at a convenient time to chat about it?’
And from there, you can discuss the options I outline above.
Giving testimonials and recommendations is a great way to engender goodwill and will encourage your clients to give you testimonials back. We tend to think about testimonials only from a direct sales point of view. So how about looking at other avenues, such as:
- Suppliers – do you have good supplier relationships. Can you endorse them?
- What other stakeholders are involved in your business?
- People in your networks
Where to Give a Testimonial
The easiest way to work this out is to ask the business representative where they would like the testimonial. Where is going to help them the most and give traction? Depending on the type of business, it might be:
If it’s a personal recommendation, then it’s likely to be Linkedin. It’s easy to access the person’s profile and press the button ‘Give a Recommendation’. How awesome would you make someone feel by doing an unsolicited testimonial for them?
I would always suggest putting KPIs, or key performance indicators, on asking for testimonials, in particular, and also for giving testimonials. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, but it might be:
- Request 2 testimonials x week
- Give 1 testimonial x week
If you have a marketing team, then I would certainly increase this number.
How Many Testimonials Should You Have
How long is a piece of string?! So the short answer is, as many as possible, but the real focus for me is keeping them fresh and up to date. If you are promoting a testimonial from a business that is no longer a client, then it’s time to refresh.
If you have different products or different services, think about having testimonials bespoke to these areas, so that you can build that credibility and social proofing as discussed in Why You Need Testimonials for Your Business.
Starting With Linkedin
If you are asking for a recommendation on Linkedin, my suggestion is to personalise the messaging and not just press send with the static micro text as used by Linkedin. I note the work or service or product and ask for the recommendation.
From there, the person will write something and send it back to you. You can then choose to press ‘publish’ straight away or ask for edits.
Sometimes I will have asked in person, on the phone or by email for the recommendation, so when the Linkedin request comes, it’s not just a ‘cold’ request. This is also why I suggest striking while the iron is hot.
And here’s why I like starting with Linkedin for receiving my recommendations.
- It’s good to keep my profile fresh and it helps with SEO.
- It’s connected to my personal profile and my personal brand, helping to social proof me and my services, to validate my work and to build credibility.
- From Linkedin, I can copy the testimonial over and repurpose it to other platforms.
Repurposing the Testimonials
I ask clients for their permission to use the testimonial throughout my marketing and social channels, so I have the opportunity to repurpose the content.
So from Linkedin, I can then copy and paste the recommendations. And this leads nicely to where I can use these testimonials.
Where to Post Testimonials
Think laterally on where testimonials can be used. First of all, I use Evernote for writing blogs and storing information. It’s just my go to software, but you can use Microsoft Word, OneNote, or whatever channel suits you. I simply put a log of all testimonials I have, and keep them stored one after the other. I now have a central respository to use for marketing purposes.
Testimonials can be used in the following ways – and maybe you’ll have other ideas to add to this list!
- Social media
- Pop Up Stands for Exhibitions
- 60 Second Pitches at Networking Events
- Brochures and Marketing Collateral
- Awards Applications
- Presentation Slidedecks
I hope this outline and guide on how to get testimonials for your business has been helpful. Do drop me a line with your thoughts and let me know if it has made a difference.