Imagine this: Your life is great. Everything is moving along beautifully. Then, out of nowhere, something unexpected happens. As a result, you need a top-notch lawyer who will help you quickly, successfully and for a reasonable fee. How do you know which lawyer to choose?
Like many people, you first ask all of your friends for referrals. But what happens if you discover no one has a good recommendation?
You could call around and ask lawyers if they’re trustworthy and worth their fees, but how do you know if they’re telling the truth?
Suddenly you think, wouldn’t it be great if I could talk to people who have actually used specific lawyers and benefited from their service? With this in mind, you go to the internet and start to investigate. You find three websites and this is what you see:
Lawyer A has a website that focuses mostly on his credentials in “lawyer speak” that makes no sense to you. He rambles on about the importance of law and you don’t find any comments from his former clients.
Lawyer B has a beautifully designed site that seems good, and she has a list of services she provides, but you’re not convinced she’s the right choice because she hasn’t mentioned anything about how her clients were helped by her work.
Lawyer C, on the other hand, has a page full of glowing success stories (testimonials) from past clients. Each story describes how Lawyer C helped her clients through their struggle. You notice a common theme, too: each client got more than they had expected in working with Lawyer C, not just in settlements, but in compassion and understanding, too.
There’s no doubt in your mind which lawyer you’re going to call. You schedule a meeting with Lawyer C to further investigate whether or not she will be able to help you.
Testimonials are Social Proof
A good testimonial explains how your service or product helped your clients solve their problems. Testimonials are like proof that what you do works. The more testimonials you have, the better.
There are effective testimonials and ineffective testimonials.
Many people have testimonials that sound like glowing reviews, but don’t really say anything of value. Here’s an example of an ineffective testimonial:
“Amy, you helped me so much today. Thank you.”
“Amy’s great. She’s one of the most creative people I know.”
These aren’t testimonials. They’re comments. They may feel good for you to hear, but they don’t help your potential client know that your service is a valuable investment.
Below is an example of a great testimonial. It came from a client who was happy with a website I designed for her years ago.
My Income Nearly Doubled in One Year!
“Thanks Amy! It’s pretty fantastic. The website you designed helped a lot! People say as soon as they see the website they know I am the one they are looking for!”
Rev. Lizzie River, Wedding Celebrant and Interfaith Minister
How do you create great testimonials?
Your clients may email you or verbally share stories about their success. Keep the stories and comments in a file. Shortly after you’re done working with them, ask the client if you can turn their words into a testimonial.
Most testimonials need to be rewritten so they are effective.
Your clients will most likely share long, detailed stories with you, or even short snippets of how they’re doing. It’s up to you to create a succinct, moving testimonial that will quickly and easily resonate with your prospective client.
In other words, people want to immediately recognize what you can do for them and you may need to rewrite testimonials to ensure this happens. Of course, you will have to get permission from your clients before you post their rewritten words.
Use a basic outline for testimonials. Typically, it looks like this:
1. What was your client’s situation before she started working with you?
In the testimonial above my former client does not describe her situation prior to working with me. She didn’t say, “Before I started working with you my income was X dollars.”
But the reader can guess that her “before” income was nearly half the final result. The “before” is implied.
2. What did you do with your client while you were working together?
You’ll notice that my client mentions the “website you designed.” This lets the reader know exactly what help my client received from me, web design.
If you offer several services it can be helpful for your client to talk about a specific service you offer.
For example, if you are a spiritual counselor your client might say, “During spiritual direction with you I felt the presence of the Divine more clearly than I ever have.”
3. Finally, have your client talk about the ultimate benefits they received in working with you.
In the testimonial example, the benefits my client received from my help were many.
1. Significant increase in income
“My income nearly doubled in one year.”
2. Attract more clients
She doesn’t come right out and say this, but it is implied.
3. People recognize her as their perfect service provider
Simply by looking at this woman’s website people knew they wanted to hire her. This made self-promotion easier for my client. Her website was able to do part of the promotion for her.
What is the Return on Invesment (ROI)
Websites are a financial investment. So are your services, even if they are spiritual counseling or massage. People need to know that their investment is going to be well worth their time and money. They also need to know that they can expect results.
The most impactful testimonials are those that demonstrate the benefits of your work. They help your prospective clients feel they can trust you and your service, and also get value out of it. The more testimonials you have that demonstrate this, the better.
Create a testimonial file and keep every comment, email or voice mail (transcribe it) that people give you and make sure you ask their permission before you use it.
When you get testimonials from people you may need to edit them to make them succinct, pithy. The next article will teach you how to do that.