At the end of the day, however well you present your business, however fancy your brochure or expensive your branding exercise, what really matters is ARE YOU DELIVERING WHAT YOU SAY YOU ARE?
People want proof these days. Your word is not enough any more. People want to hear about what others say about you not about how good you think you are. They want it straight from the horses mouth.
Your marketing challenge is to overcome barriers to people buying your product. One of these real barriers is the trust barrier. We inherently distrust people when we meet them for the first time. It's in our nature, for many of us at least. We need this barrier removing for us by our suppliers before we are prepared to stick our neck out and make a purchase.
Once the relationship is established this takes on a different dimension, BUT for winning new customers (which after all is what every business needs to do to survive long term), dismantling the barrier of trust is an essential pre-requisite to getting the business.
Testimony puts your potential customer in front of your existing customer and offers them an opportunity to get a picture of how well you did for that customer and hence how well you might perform for them.
Testimony starts with a simple quote from a client:
"We have worked with ACME Ltd for the last 10 years and always found them to be helpful, professional and exceptional value" - CEO ABC Company Ltd
The problem with quotes is what? Well you just guessed it. I made this one up in about 10 seconds. It all sounds nice but we all know that many quotes are completely contrived. We've all been there. I want a quote, I call the client, they are too busy and so I write a quote for them and they put their name to it. Job done! But is it real? Of course not. Does it have any substance? Most likely not. Will it carry any weight with a potential new client? Probably not (unless you are working with household names and high level brands within your field).
Well, if testimony works but quotes are weak then we need to work on our testimonies to make them authentic.
We all love a good story don't we? Especially if it is one which is focused on an area of your interest. It's the same with business testimonies or testimonials. They tell the story of how you added value to a client rather than just reeling off some bland superlatives that wash straight through people's heads.
You can use testimonials essentially in a couple of ways:
First, you can ask your client to write something descriptive in the form of a reference. A reference provides detail from the client's perspective, which outlines the following as an example:
As you can see this is considerably more than a quote. It's not something you can safely contrive and if presented on the letterhead of the customer, it is something that they will want to be sure is right before they put their name to it.