Remember that there are six universal principles of social influence, as identified by social psychologists, notably Robert Cialdini in the book Influence:
- Social proof
Your prospects are probably wondering if you can help them. Until you share what others' experiences have been working with you, how can they know?
Hearing what other people say about working with you is one of the most influential ways to convince people that you're trustworthy and know what you're talking about.
As I write this, I realize I am not walking my talk here. I haven't created a place on this blog where my client's testimonials can be accessed.
Wait, there's a great testimonial on the page, "How Can I Help You?" But I could certainly create a new page, and put something like "What My Clients Say" up in the navigation bar. (Note to self: do this today…) I have done this on my other site, but not here.
How to Collect and Use Social Proof
When you've delivered work and your client is happy, be sure to capture their comments in text (via email or blog comment), but also consider using an audio file or video clip.
Audio testimonials: Maintain a free teleconferencing line, such as the one I have with FreeTeleconferencing.com. You can set up a testimonial line, send people the number and ask them to record their message. The company will send you the mp3 file, and you can post it on a special page on your blog or website.
Text testimonials: Collect these from emails and blog comments, or send a written request like a customer satisfaction survey and ask for feedback, both positive and negative. Ask for permission before you publish, and if appropriate, ask the person for a photo and/or links to their sites.
Video testimonials: This is easy to do when you're meeting in person, using a Flip video camera. Even when your clients are global, it's easy enough with a Web cam. Ask a client to record a video testimonial under a minute, even 30 seconds will do. Use a service like YouSendIt.com, to transfer large video files to your computer.
Upload it to YouTube, use a description and tags, and capture the embedding code, paste it into a blog post or on a special page on your blog. Voila…
Not All Testimonials Are Created Equal
Capturing what clients say about you can be used in many ways. You can create new blog posts based on client comments. This goes for positive and negative comments.
But there's a danger in copying and pasting glowing client testimonials. Positive comments tend to be a little ho-hum and bland. Here's an example:
"Just wanted to take a few minutes to thank you for your great blogs. I've been reading them for more than a year now. These last few blog posts are totally in sync with what I'm going through myself! And here you are writing about it."
"I find all your information really interesting. I recommend your blogs to all my clients."
"I am so inspired and filled with ideas from your blogs."
As happy as I am to hear these comments from readers, I don't see the value in posting them. Don't get me wrong, this stuff makes my day! I love hearing this! But there's not much social proof at work here.
Look at this example of another email:
"From your excellent set-up work and encouragement, my blog has grown to
over 387 posts (and counting), and has generated new leads that resulted in
$2,000,000 US dollars (yes, 2 million!) in new business."
This last client includes results in his testimonial. Many clients don't understand how important this is, so you have to ask them: "Since you seem to be happy with our work together, would you mind sending me a sentence or two telling people what kinds of results you're seeing?"
It doesn't have to be financial returns, although that's nice. Sometimes making someone's life easier, faster, better is also important proof.