Testimonials are Good for Business – and Web Content

Think about it. Amidst all the communication on a web page, when you see an obvious quote – set apart in italics or quotation marks – your eye is drawn to this brief yet telling piece of information about the company or person whose page you’re on.

A testimonial makes business personal. It validates the credibility of the product, service and company. It entices the reader in with a personal experience that has a better chance of resonating; the challenge or problem they had solved may be the same one the user is having.

A testimonial also adds flavor to business content. Not all companies or offerings are unique or even particularly interesting for the reader. But stories sell. And people like to know that there are other “real” people using this company’s products or services.

So how do you get a good business testimonial?

The last thing you want is for one of your clients to give you some bland recommendation about providing “great customer service” or being a “true professional.” So what?

But most of your clients don’t know how to craft a compelling testimonial – which is why you need to guide them and give them thought-provoking questions that will elicit a more specific, and therefore, engaging response.

I learned this from Peter Bowerman, author of The Well-Fed Writer, a fantastic resource for anyone who’s interested in generating good income in the world of business writing. Bowerman suggests this type of prompt for client testimonials:

* Why do you choose to do business with Company XYZ?
* Any examples of service above and beyond with Company XYZ?
* Why do you choose to do business with Company XYZ over the competition?
* Why would recommend people work with Company XYZ?

If possible, get the client on the phone and personally interview them for a few minutes, using these questions as a starting point. A client will often reveal more in conversation than in short, written responses. In the interest of time, however, it’s sometimes hard to nail the client down and it’s easier for them to respond to a well-crafted email request. The email request should be preceded by a quick phone call and heads-up that the request is coming.

How to make a business testimonial more effective

Now, in order for the responses to these questions to be sufficiently meaty, ask the client to be as specific and detailed as possible in their responses. Ask them to put some thought into it. If you remind them, they generally will and you’ll get at least one or two detailed responses from the 3-4 questions you pose.

You can also splice together a response from one question if it works nicely with another. You have creative liberties to do that and you do not need to ask the client for permission.

To help elicit a good business testimonial, you should also let the client know they don’t need to worry about wordsmithing. They can just jot down bullet points and phrases and you – or your content writer – can make it sound pretty.

When you ask for the testimonial, of course let them know that their testimonial may be featured on your website and in other marketing collateral materials. Ideally, you want permission to use a full name followed by their position/title and company they work for. This lends greater credibility to your business testimonial.

If someone feels strongly about just using a first name, last initial or vice versa, then you have to honor their request. In business, however, most people are comfortable with being transparent. As long as they are happy clients, they’re generally willing to share that fact with the public.

Need help gathering business testimonials? Sometimes it’s more effective to have a third-party collecting that information on your behalf. Get in touch with us if you’re too busy to round up your own testimonials or you simply prefer someone else to do it.

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