Are Your Testimonials Really Working Hard Enough?

How to Write Testimonials

Why Aren’t Testimonials More Believable?

Why don’t testimonials work harder at convincing new customers to follow their experience? After all, they represent the experience of one who has already been your customer. Is there something the testimonials do or don’t do that causes them to fail to communicate the great experience received from your product or service? There are actually several tasks you can do to assure that the testimonials you use on your webpage and in your other advertising can be more effective at reaching into the customer’s mind and actually do what you intend them should do. From a good communications standpoint, let us take a look at what is wrong with the testimonials we see all the time.

Eating Sweets All the Time Isn’t Very Appetizing

Flavoring things with a little sugar can make them more palatable, but no one really enjoys a steady diet of sugary sweets. It is the same with your advertising copy, but nowhere can you tell the difference more than you can in customer testimonials. Why? Because all that sweetness and sugary language is just not that palatable; it isn’t that believable. We expect that a testimonial should be the sharpened point of our advertising spear but it is not. It is, however, supposed to be an honest appraisal and reference.

Testimonials Are Not Commercials

For the most part, a person’s instant response to a commercial is, “Yeah, right. Whatever.” That is the worst response you can get because it blocks all thinking and future consideration for your service or product. When your message is believable, fills a need, answers or overcomes objections, then it gets through. However, it is not easy to overcome objections if you don’t acknowledge what they are.

A Testimonial is a Spoken Reference in the Form of a Story

There are two sides to every story. Testimonials typical have one; they should have two. After you finish reading two or three overly-sweetened testimonials, it is hard to digest any more and that thinking part of the brain no longer finds all that sweetness appetizing and inviting. A testimonial needs to be told with both sides present. It should “talk” to you the way the original person would “talk” to you if he or she were there in person.

In order for a testimonial to be truly believable, it must reflect the kind of experiences you are likely to have yourself. To illustrate, imagine you have stumbled across a Mexican restaurant somewhere on the outskirts of Tucson, or somewhere similar, where you would expect to find the most excellent in Mexican cuisine. It is nestled behind an old drug store and a warehouse, or perhaps in an abandoned gasoline station. There are no great signs or outside appearance that is particularly inviting, but you’ve heard it was a good, reasonable place to eat. Finally, after passing it by countless times, you go in and try it and discover the very best meal you have ever had. Now, picture yourself telling someone else about it. It might go something like this:

“At first, I was hesitant because the place didn’t look like much. The building was old and uninviting and it was nothing like a pictured a fine restaurant should be. Boy! Was I in for a shock! When I finally took the chance I found the best tasting food I’ve ever had in any cuisine. I’m only sorry I didn’t discover it a long time ago as I would have been able to experience that great food and wonderfully friendly service for a lot longer.”

That’s how someone might actually verbally tell you. A testimonial should “talk” to you. The problem with almost all of them is that they simply don’t.

Let Your Customers Actually Tell You Their Whole Story

Testimonials should be “built.” There is a pattern that helps make them sound more convincing. Start with the objections, the reservations and the hesitations; those are elements that are very real to the reader. In developing testimonials, you can ask specific questions of the person providing it and get the verbiage you need right from your customer. Literally, they can “write your copy” for you.

Ask them the following points:

  1. What was your initial objection to buying the product or service?
  2. When you finally did buy, what was the result?
  3. What feature(s) did you like most?
  4. Can you name 3 other benefits?
  5. Would you recommend it and why?
  6. What else can you add?

You can do this by mail or email, but the best way is to be able to record it. In that way you can pick up on the actual words the customer uses. These are the words that will have the greatest appeal to your prospects – not the milled and refined sugar that comes from translating it into “advertising talk.”

Testimonials can be an effective way at conveying the positive experiences of your customers. The problem with the way testimonials are used is that they are simply not believable – people really don’t talk like that. In testimonials the negatives can sometimes be much more powerful as the positives because they attract attention and they make the positives more believable.

Like all writing, there is an art to it as well as a science.  It is the art of telling a story that creates a winning testimonial. Thrive Marketing is always available to help you tell your own story more effectively and more convincingly. Give us a call, toll-free, at (866) 521-0827 or request a proposal and let tell you our story of how well we can help your business thrive.