One of the most powerful tools you can have at your disposal when working to gather referrals is customer testimonials. For prospects, seeing what others say about you holds more weight than what you say about yourself! Testimonials from satisfied clients work in a few different ways to strengthen your referral program:
- They make the existing customer more committed to you. If their name and/or face has appeared on your website, in a direct mailing piece, or in a company newsletter, they are going to be much more invested in your success. They’ll want you to succeed and be willing to help make sure that happens by referring friends, family members, business associates and acquaintances to you.
- They hold more weight with referrals. When a potential client or lead sees a whole page full of quotes and testimonials from existing customers, it further cements the idea that you’re someone they want to do business with.
- They help with “cold” leads, too. The next best thing to a direct referral is a “cold” lead who sees page after page of satisfied, smiling customers. Why do you think so many plastic surgeons and weight-loss experts use before-and-after photos? THEY WORK!
Gathering customer testimonials can be a little bit daunting, unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, and in what format. Here are some tips:
- If your clients are pros at creating videos, you might want to consider asking them to do a video testimonial. If they’re not video savvy, a photo with written text is fine. Make it easy for your customers!
- If your customer is reluctant to provide a photo, ask for an audio interview instead. That often will seem more “real” than just a plain text quote.
- Tell your customers what you want them to say beforehand. Brief them on the questions you’ll be asking (if interviewing them) or the kind of quote you’re looking for (if they’re completing a survey or questionnaire). The better sense they have of what you need, the better they’ll deliver.
- Make it a habit to ask for testimonials. Once someone refers a few customers your way, follow up. Say, “You seem to really like our program – and we love you! Would you be willing to record (or write) a short testimonial we can use in our marketing materials?”
- Edit judiciously. Some people will go on and on. It’s great that they’re so excited, but the reader or viewer just wants the main points. Cut where necessary.
- Reward them for helping you out. If you’re using their image and/or words to get more business, they should be rewarded for doing so. But don’t make it a straight, “Give me a testimonial and I’ll give you a free treatment;” that could be seen as bribery. Instead, send them a small thank-you well after the fact, or put them in a drawing to win a larger item.
Testimonials are a great addition to any marketing program, and will make your current referral program even stronger.