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Growing Your Business

Harnessing the Power of Testimonials

by Ranger Kidwell-Ross

Testimonials are a great way to market the services you provide. They offer one of the best types of credibility possible, because it is the result of a third-party endorsement. They are expecially powerful, since it is someone else saying that you and your company and products or services are phenomenal, instead of you or one of your sales personnel.

A testimonial has a much higher phychological impact than an ad, which everyone knows you paid for (and in which you could say anything you wanted). It is much more credible when you someone outside your company is saying positive things about your company.

Where should you use them? Once you have them in hand and approved for usage, you should use your testimonials everywhere you can think of: in your marketing materials, on your web site, in advertisements, in your media kit, in your sales presentations and/or as 'sound bite' items you can relate to prospects on the telephone as success stories. You may even want to put one or two onto your business cards (maybe on the back, the half of the card so many people fail to utilize).

In short, use them as often as possible. People are very reassured to see that other people say positive things about their experience with your service, especially if the testimonial identifies who they are. If possible, use a small picture of the person giving the testimonial next to it. Putting a face to the testimonial, and/or adding the company's logo, really helps your potential customers feel more comfortable. It provides a reassuring 'safety net' for their buying decision.

Testimonials Letter

Be advised that using the satisfied customer's name greatly increases your credibility. It is far stronger to have an endorsement with a name than without. Ideally, use the customer's name and his or her company's name along with, if at all possible, their company logo. You can typically scan the logo from their letterhead. Make sure to ask permission to use their name prior to doing so. If they are reluctant to have their entire name used, next best is to use the format 'Bob S.' or 'Mary R' with their testimonial.

One caution: Some people have experienced that their competitors have targeted the company's that provided them with a testimonial, especially if it was included on high-end marketing materials. The logic is, if they can get the person who's praised you to switch to their company, it will both throw a monkey-wrench into your marketing and, perhaps, cause you to destroy your current, expensive batch of printed materials that includes the testimonial.

For that reason, I recommend NOT putting testimonials onto large runs of brochures and other expensive printed items you plan on having around for some time. However, if someone with a testimonial on your website gets switched away from you, it's a simple and inexpensive matter to replace.

Now that you're convinced of the power of testimonials, the next question is what techniques should you use to pry all of those glowing comments from satisfied customers? Fortunately the answer is a very simple one: just ask them. Because testimonials are so powerful, requesting them is something you need to get in the habit of doing with every single one of your satisfied customers. Once you get comfortable with the process, you'll find that asking will come naturally. Your customer will be pleased you asked them for their viewpoint and in most all cases will be happy to oblige.

Here are a few of the best ways to gather testimonials for your sweeping company:
1. Ask your customers to fill out a brief customer satisfaction survey. To make this inexpensive to do, put the survey into your customers' invoices. On the form, leave space for comments at the end. Make sure to also ask at the end of the survey, "May we use your name and comments in our marketing materials?" Have a space for them to check "yes" or "no," along with their signature. You'll discover that most people are comfortable with having you use their comments.

2. If you use public speaking to increase your visibility and generate leads for your business, then after each speech be sure to pass out an evaluation form to your audience. At the end of the evaluation form, ask: "May we use your name and comments in our marketing materials?" Have a space for them to check "yes" or "no," along with their signature.

3. Just ask your customers to write testimonial letters. Say something like, "I was wondering if you could help me." (People love to help!) "You've told me personally how happy you are with the quality of work we provide. Would you mind writing a testimonial letter for me outlining that fact?" (Only ask customers that you are sure are happy.)

4. If they tell you that they don't really know what to say, ask them questions designed to jog their memory. "I know you've told me how much you like our responsiveness." or "I thought about asking you because I remembered you mentioned how great it was to be able to make one phone call and then know we'd follow through." Whatever it is that they've said in the past that was positive about the job you do for them, paraphrase that back to them.

5. Some of your better customers will tell you to just go ahead and write something for them and they'll sign it. If you know them well enough you may even want to offer to write it for them, "I know that you are very busy. If you'd like, I'd be more than happy to draft something for you to edit." People do genuinely want to help, and people are also genuinely very busy. This makes it easy for them to help. Ideally, though, you get the finished product on their letterhead, signed by them.

6. Every time you complete a project and/or a customer says something positive to you about how your company personnel performed, say to them, "Would you mind writing that down on your letterhead? It would be a big help to me, since I know that word-of-mouth comments from existing customers are the best way to market our services."

When asking for testimonials, keep in mind what ones you already have and what other kudos you'd like to have available. For example, if you already have someone talking about how cost-effective your services are, try to steer any new testimony toward some other area of your business. Here are some of the basic themes that are valuable to have someone praising your business for:

  • Responsiveness
  • Money-saving
  • Added safety
  • Professionalism
  • 'One call does it all'
  • Quiet sweepers
  • Thorough job

Use your testimonials as success stories when speaking with prospects; they can also be helpful when talking to customers about providing you with testimonials of their own. For example, when a customer doesn't know what to write about, you might say: "Well, Bob Smith over at Company A talked about how our sweepers are so quiet that customer complaints stopped. Jim Jones, at Company B mentioned how responsive we are to emergency sweeping situations. Perhaps you could say...

This enables you to tell others what you have accomplished for your customers without appearing to brag. The model of a success story is: Your customer had a problem. You fixed it. They are now very happy because they a) saved time and/or b) saved money and/or c) no longer worry. Remember to always tell your success story from the customer or prospect's point of view. That means stick to the benefits that your customers received from your work, since that's the perspective your customers will best relate to.

Testimonials are also useful as an internal motivator for your employees. I suggest you post your favorite testimonial letters on a bulletin board or other wall space in your office. Ideally after scanning them to a printable file you keep on your computer, put the remainder into a three-ring binder. These can be useful to have new-hires read prior to coming on board with you, to read occasionally at employee meetings, and to use as general morale boosters.

As a nod in the direction of the Internet, written testimonials aren't necessarily the latest and greatest anymore. Because they can be inserted relatively easily onto your website (and still transcribed and written down for use in your written materials), audio testimonials are becoming more popular. These should, ideally, be accompanied by a photograph. By the same token, video testimonials are also easy to put onto websites, as well, and these allow you to both see and hear someone speaking about your products/services.

Finally, when you request testimonials from customers and they hesitate to provide them to you, be sure that fact raises a 'red flag' in your head. Asking for testimonials can also uncover customers who aren't exactly 100% pleased with the service you're providing. When this occurs, be sure to follow up and put in place whatever solution is needed to get them back on course as a satisfied customer.

Ranger Kidwell-Ross is the editor of, as well as the author of 'Fundamentals of the Power Sweeping Business,' the most comprehensive 'how to' guide available covering virtually all aspects of running a power sweeping company. Ranger may easily be reached online via the contact form.

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