Archive for the ‘Web Presence’ Category

5 Steps to Creating Inspiring Customer Testimonials

Customer testimonials can be a powerful selling tool for your business. But often, testimonials seem canned, stilted and too self-serving.
So what are the qualities that make a testimonial inspiring rather than insipid?
An inspiring testimonial tells a story, much like a feature article does.The story focuses on the customer and how they have benefited through the use of certain products or services. It draws the reader in. It has a beginning (the problem), middle (your solution), and an end (the results).
But it’s not about you. It’s all about your customer and what they’ve gained.
If you can paint that picture effectively, you will leave the reader thinking, “Hmm, maybe that would work for me,too.”When readers can put themselves into the story and imagine experiencing the same results and benefits, then you will be able to successfully motivate them to act.
Here are five steps to follow in order to create testimonials that inspire readers to become buyers:
Contact your customer. When you receive positive feedback on your products or services –either by feedback form, email, blog comment, or word-of-mouth–contact your customer.That initial feedback should serve as a lead for your testimonial. It should not serve as the testimonial itself.
Schedule a time to interview your customer. When you contact your customer, ask if you can set up a time to chat for the purpose of gathering a testimonial, for roughly 15 or 20 minutes, at their convenience.
Do some preliminary research. Before the scheduled interview, learn as much as you can about your customer and their business. Google them. Check out their website. Review your own company’s internal data regarding their buying habits.
Conduct the interview. During the interview, use a headset at your PC and capture your customer’s answers to a list of questions. Let your conversation flow. Don’t be afraid to ask follow up questions. The goal of your interview is to dig deeper into their experience with your products and services. Here are some of the types of questions I ask during testimonial interviews (to note, these are for a B2B scenario, but can easilybe tailored for a B2C situation):
How did you (or the founder) start your business? What inspired your business ideas?
What struggles did you experience? Did any of our products or services help you tackle or solve those challenges? If so, how? And, when did you first start using our products and services?
Were they easy to purchase, use, or install?
What have these products and services allowed you to do in your own business (or life)? How have they helped you accomplish your objectives?
What was it like performing those same tasks before you had our products and services?
What other results or benefits have you enjoyed?
What would you say to another business owner who was contemplating buying our products and services?
5. Draft, submit, and receive approval on your testimonial. With your interview complete, it’s time to draft your testimonial. Approach it in a narrative form, sprinkling quotes throughout. Let your story unfold and follow the adage “show don’t tell.” Once complete, be sure to send it to your customer for their review and approval. Make any changes as requested. If necessary, you may want to ask them to sign a release enabling you to use the piece in various forms (provided you don’t change the intended meaning or purpose).
While it may sound like a time-intensive process, these types of 1-pagetestimonials can be completed in roughly 2 hours. If you fear this will take too much of your time and is not in your skill set sweet-spot, consider hiring a professional writer to assist you.
Once complete, you can use your testimonials in a variety of ways. Post them on your website. Use pull-quotes in your marketing materials. Include them as case studies in your sales proposals. When written well and fully leveraged, they will help you to build brand awareness and ultimately boost sales.

Customer testimonials can be a powerful selling tool for your business. But often, testimonials seem canned, stilted and too self-serving.

So what are the qualities that make a testimonial inspiring rather than insipid?

An inspiring testimonial tells a story, much like a feature article does.The story focuses on the customer and how they have benefited through the use of certain products or services. It draws the reader in. It has a beginning (the problem), middle (your solution), and an end (the results).

But it’s not about you. It’s all about your customer and what they’ve gained.

If you can paint that picture effectively, you will leave the reader thinking, “Hmm, maybe that would work for me,too.”When readers can put themselves into the story and imagine experiencing the same results and benefits, then you will be able to successfully motivate them to act.

Here are five steps to follow in order to create testimonials that inspire readers to become buyers:

  1. Contact your customer. When you receive positive feedback on your products or services –either by feedback form, email, blog comment, or word-of-mouth–contact your customer.That initial feedback should serve as a lead for your testimonial. It should not serve as the testimonial itself.
  2. Schedule a time to interview your customer. When you contact your customer, ask if you can set up a time to chat for the purpose of gathering a testimonial, for roughly 15 or 20 minutes, at their convenience.
  3. Do some preliminary research. Before the scheduled interview, learn as much as you can about your customer and their business. Google them. Check out their website. Review your own company’s internal data regarding their buying habits.
  4. Conduct the interview. During the interview, use a headset at your PC and capture your customer’s answers to a list of questions. Let your conversation flow. Don’t be afraid to ask follow up questions. The goal of your interview is to dig deeper into their experience with your products and services. Here are some of the types of questions I ask during testimonial interviews (to note, these are for a B2B scenario, but can easilybe tailored for a B2C situation):
    • How did you (or the founder) start your business? What inspired your business ideas?
    • What struggles did you experience? Did any of our products or services help you tackle or solve those challenges? If so, how? And, when did you first start using our products and services?
    • Were they easy to purchase, use, or install?
    • What have these products and services allowed you to do in your own business (or life)? How have they helped you accomplish your objectives?
    • What was it like performing those same tasks before you had our products and services?
    • What other results or benefits have you enjoyed?
    • What would you say to another business owner who was contemplating buying our products and services?

5. Draft, submit, and receive approval on your testimonial. With your interview complete, it’s time to draft your testimonial. Approach it in a narrative form, sprinkling quotes throughout. Let your story unfold and follow the adage “show don’t tell.” Once complete, be sure to send it to your customer for their review and approval. Make any changes as requested. If necessary, you may want to ask them to sign a release enabling you to use the piece in various forms (provided you don’t change the intended meaning or purpose).

While it may sound like a time-intensive process, these types of 1-pagetestimonials can be completed in roughly 2 hours. If you fear this will take too much of your time and is not in your skill set sweet-spot, consider hiring a professional writer to assist you.

Once complete, you can use your testimonials in a variety of ways. Post them on your website. Use pull-quotes in your marketing materials. Include them as case studies in your sales proposals. When written well and fully leveraged, they will help you to build brand awareness and ultimately boost sales.