There’s no doubt that social proof is one of the key ways people decide to buy or try your products or services. But if you don’t have a lot of clients, or you’re starting a new business or product, how do you get quality client testimonials?
I get asked about this by some of my consulting clients. Nothing can backfire and destroy trust and credibility more quickly than phony testimonials.
I was working with a client who – now that he owned his own business – didn’t feel comfortable using testimonials he had acquired when he was part of a team effort, working for someone else.
I don’t blame him. Even though he had a solid reputation as an expert in his field, he was concerned about authenticity and sincerity. He was afraid that the client’s comments were not genuine because they were not about his new company, products and services. And he is right: Readers can smell a phony testimonial a mile away.
I’m not saying a phony testimonial is made up or false. (Although, I see many comments on product pages that seem just a little too perfect, making me wonder if a paid marketer wrote the comment, capturing all the product benefits.) I’m saying a phony testimonial is one that looks phony because it is:
- Written by a friend, relative, or colleague (biased)
- Not signed, or only has initials (anonymous)
- Without a photo or link to their site
- Vague or irrelevant to the product or service at hand
Weak or ineffective testimonials will do you more harm than good: your credibility is at stake.
If you don’t have good, strong statements by clients who have actually experienced what it’s like to work with you, try these six tips to connect with your readers and establish your credibility:
- Explain why you are omitting client names. If it is to protect client confidentiality, include the quote along with the statement, “Because of ethical standards, client names cannot be revealed.”
- Explain why you don’t have quotes from previous clients. If it is a new product or service, include feedback from initial reviewers, “This product has been used in focus groups; here’s some feedback from initial reviewers.”
- Include quotes from previous clients, but explain the context. (Briefly explain your relationship.)
- Ask clients to write a testimonial for you and suggest they add a few results from working with you. This makes a testimonial specific and more authentic.
- Ask clients to call a telephone recording system and record their testimonials. Adding voice makes the testimonial alive and credible. (Same is true of video testimonials, even more so.)
- Ask people on social media sites if this product seems like a good idea to them. This generates general comments, but in the absence of a specific testimonial, could also work.
And here’s what I’d do if I were completely new and had zero client testimonials to post: I’d tell my story, my back story, the emotional reasons I am offering such a product or service.
Maybe you had a hard time and at one point you said “Enough!” You decided to put an end to the problem, situation, challenge. Be as up front and real as possible; tell people the truth.
If you don’t have social proof, yet, then so be it. Be as truthful with your readers as possible. Build trust by being trustworthy.