How to Gather Marketing Gold Testimonials That Send Your Sales Sky High

Last updated: Dec 10, 2018
min read
How to Gather Marketing Gold Testimonials That Send Your Sales Sky High

f you’re like me, you groan when someone says “testimonials,” because, let’s face it -- unless you’re one of the blessed few, they don’t exactly fall out of the sky.  You’ve got to track them down, wring them out of clients, and bludgeon them into a shape suitable for public display.  And it’s a chore.

But, at the same time, we know testimonials are important.  Like, really important.  So if you’re really serious about growing your business online, you’ve got to stop waiting for them to fall into your lap and have to go out and get them yourself.

Here’s some tips to make your testimonial-scavenging successful.

Don’t forget your avatar

Most businesses — including yours — should have an ideal client avatar, or ICA.  This is basically a profile on a fictional customer who fits your business perfectly, and serves as the guiding light for your marketing.

First, you need a good buyer persona. A “buyer persona” is basically a profile of a (typically fictional) person who epitomizes your target audience. If you don’t have one, there’s plenty of great resources to help you create a good buyer persona for your business, like this one from Proposify.

This helps with testimonials since, because buyer personas help you get inside a prospective customer’s head, they also help you understand what a prospective customer might want to hear — what challenges, fears, or objections they might want addressed. When you understand how your target audience is thinking, you’ll be able to make better decisions about what to prompt your interviewees with, and which testimonials to choose.

Making Good Testimonials

Now that you’ve developed a good sense of what work your testimonials need to do, you want to hunt out some of your satisfied clients for interviews. Make sure to tell them how long it’ll take, that you won’t disclose any revealing information, and that this isn’t a thinly veiled sales pitch.

Once there, start your interview by asking specifically about the challenges you’ve identified as common. This information will be the first part of your testimonial puzzle.

“Wait,” you say. “This seems weird. Am I really actively trying to associate my company with people’s negative experiences?”

In short, yes. As critically thinking adults, we tend to trust sources that sound more objective, more honest, more personal — anything but automated, glossy marketing platitudes — and nothing will tickle that authenticity bone more than using your testimonials to tell about your clients’ journeys into your product of service. And to tell that story, you need to start with conflict: their challenges and reservations.

But, of course, you won’t leave it there. If you’re bothering to interview this client at all, their story is bound to end with a big “But. . .” and a retinue of all your virtues that redeemed them from their problems.

What started out as “I’ve had really bad experiences with bed and breakfasts. . . ” ends with, “. . . but Max and Lucy’s was so comfortable and clean, and the proprietors were so darling that I’m going to go out of my way to stay with them every time I’m in town.”

“I was worried about the weight of the device. . . ” becomes, “. . . but it’s so ergonomically sound it feels lighter than any of the competitors’.”

Or “I hated my job and couldn’t stand waking up in the morning. . . ” concludes, “. . . but with Muse Noise-Cancelling Headphones I don’t have to listen to the accountants clip their toenails anymore.”

Yes, you may be publishing your customers’ doubts and struggles, but by doing so you give them an opportunity to talk about how you overcame them.

After the Interview

Once you’ve learned your interviewee’s story — their challenges and how you defeated them — you’ve got to assemble a testimonial. This is where a little editorial license comes in handy. With your interviewee’s permission, of course, select out the best bits from their tale and weave them together into one pithy, punchy little quote.

This may feel like cheating, but it isn’t. Your interviewees might actually thank you for making them sound so articulate.

And once you have a handful of good testimonials, it’s time to share them! The key here is to put them front and center. Too often testimonials will get relegated to some back corner of a website — a sub-page of “About Us” or something, where of course nobody ever goes — and don’t end up doing any good.

No, stick them on the first page of your website, quote them in advertising campaigns, and make a tasteful little shrine out of them on your website’s home page. Remember what we started this article with? That 63% of customers are more likely to buy on a site with reviews? Yeah, make sure they know that your site has reviews, and they’re positive.

And that’s that! Armed with a better word from your customers, making sales should be a little bit easier.

Further Reading

Shopify Blog — How to Generate Powerful Testimonials for your E-Commerce Business

copyblogger — 6 Questions to Ask for Powerful Testimonials

Proposify — How to create buyer personas

BazaarVoice Blog — 63% Customers More Likely to Buy on Sites with Reviews

McKinsey & Company — A new way to measure word-of-mouth marketing

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