Why and how do testimonials help your business?

Typically, prospective clients will encounter your testimonials when they’re shopping for services, considering different options, and evaluating if you’re the right fit for them.

At that point in the purchasing process, the thing on their mind? Risk!

  • How do they know if you’re going to be a good person to work with?
  • How do they know if you have the experience to help them solve their problem?
  • Most importantly, how do they know if they will get the outcome they’re seeking for their investment by going with you?

It’s less about convincing a prospective client to work with you and more about helping them avoid from opting out of taking that next step to working with you by helping to overcome their doubts.

Having someone else tell the story of why it was worthwhile for them to work with you is a powerful tool to reduce the perceived risk in the potential client’s mind and address their objections.

What’s a strong testimonial? What’s a weak testimonial?

While almost any testimonial is better than no testimonial, there are testimonials that are far more effective in reducing perceived risk than others.

Strong testimonials are ones that are believable and help a client overcome hesitations to hiring you by demonstrating exactly how an investment in your service pays off despite those hesitations. To achieve this, a strong testimonial has a particular set of qualities. It:

  • Relates to the expensive/painful problem that you solve for your clients.
  • Identifies the hesitation or objection your client faced before engaging you.
  • Highlights the measurable outcomes that you’ve helped your client achieve and shows how you were able to help achieve them.
  • Shows the benefits the client experienced working with you.
  • Highlights how your services are a fit for the type of clients that you work with.
  • Reflects the actual language clients use to describe working with you.

A weak testimonial, by contrast:

  • Focuses on you and your business, not the client. (“Kai really knows his stuff!”)
  • Talk about your work in platitudes. (“We loved working with Meg! The project was great!”)
  • Is vague on results or how your work helped achieve them.
  • Doesn’t relate to the type of clients you work with .
  • Doesn’t mention the painful or expensive problem that you solve.

Here’s an example of a weak testimonial. This testimonial is a real testimonial from one of Kai’s first long-term clients.

Kai’s advice on optimizing our website was an epic win for us — it permanently moved the needle on our growth.

That is a very weak testimonial. While it hints at how the client benefited from hiring Kai, it’s vague and doesn’t tell the story of how working with Kai was a worthwhile investment for the client.

Here’s what a stronger testimonial from that same client could have looked like:

Our search traffic has grown 237%, and we’ve been able to launch numerous digital marketing initiatives since we started working with Kai.

When we started working with Kai, we were concerned if he’d be the right consultant to work with our growing company. As a startup, it’s hard to find a consultant with a broad skill-set who can augment a small, nimble marketing department.

With Kai, you get the best of both worlds; he speaks tech and marketing, and he can help you translate your largest marketing ideas into achievable, quickly implementable projects, and tangible outcomes.

When we needed eight microsites developed for a large launch in the span of three weeks, Kai worked directly with the Chief Marketing Officer to develop the concept, outline the implementation, execute the project, and then track and monitor the results.

With Kai’s help, the project was a success. And best of all? If something would be cost-prohibitive or take a lot of time to implement, he clearly and concisely explained why we should try a different approach and what other methods we could explore to get a similar marketing result.

I sincerely recommend Kai for any other startups who have a marketing team that needs someone who can help them translate their projects from marketing to tech, and then execute on the project.

What’s better about this testimonial?

  • It focuses on the business outcomes that Kai helped the client achieve.
  • It calls out the hesitation the client felt before working with Kai.
  • It relates to the expensive problem that was solved.
  • It highlights how Kai’s services are a fit for the industry that he serviced at the time.
  • It focuses on the benefits the client experienced working with Kai, and included a quantitative measure of our work together.

This is the kind of endorsement that communicates the value a potential client could receive by working with you, while addressing potential objections. Altogether, the above elements reduce the risk that clients may feel about working with you, which can increase the likelihood that they actually will.

Testimonials like this don’t just come out by themselves.

So how do you avoid weak testimonials and ensure you receive a strong one?

  • You want to give the client notice that you’ll be asking for a testimonial.
  • You want to tell the client how you’ll be using the testimonial (on your website, in a marketing asset, etc.).
  • You want to share an example of another testimonial from another client.
  • You want to give the client direction on the questions that you’ll be asking.
  • You want to ask the client open-ended questions.
  • You want to give the client an opportunity to give feedback, both positive and negative, and then work with that material to produce a polished, effective testimonial you’re both happy with.

We’ll cover how to do these over the next sections in the guide.

Want help getting testimonials from your clients (without the awkwardness)?

Meg has done-for-you testimonial services available to make it easier for you to get powerful testimonials. Check them out here.

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