There are a number of reasons why many people put little stock in testimonials. The most obvious is that many testimonials do nothing but shower praise on a product, service or person with very little objectivity. Yet that’s not the real reason people hold their noses when reading some testimonials. It’s empathy-or lack thereof.
When people read testimonials, it’s largely because they visited a website or picked up a brochure for information on a product or service they thought could help them with whatever their problem or situation might be. If the testimonial contains nothing about the “pain” that caused them to seek out the product or service, the reader doesn’t really relate to it and it loses any influence it may have on making them take the next step. In the end, it becomes nothing but an ego stroke for the business owner-and that’s really not the intent of a testimonial.
So, how do you ensure a quality testimonial that creates a connection with the reader while reinforcing a positive image for the company? What I’ve found to be most helpful in creating effective testimonials is having the testimonial-giver answer four basic questions:
- What did you hire Company X to do?
- How did it go?
- If there was one aspect of your experience with Company X that you would mention in a referral, what would it be?
- Would you refer Company X?
The responses to these questions typically set the scenario of why you would hire Company X, while pinpointing particular strengths. And even though it goes without saying that somebody providing a testimonial would refer that company, it never hurts to reinforce that in the testimonial.
Of course, there are a number of things a testimonial should contain to enhance its effectiveness and credibility (e.g. real first and last names, names of companies, etc.). But for a testimonial to truly be effective, it must figuratively speak to the reader and solve their pain-pretty much what the copy in all your collaterals should do.
Your skeptics will always doubt the authenticity of a testimonial. Give them an idea that you understand their pains with those testimonials and you’ve got a shot if the messaging in your collateral piece or website does the same thing.