Customers aren’t copywriters

Throughout my professional career, I’ve asked numerous clients to write and send me a testimonial or two. These were great clients, too, who expressed to me time and time again how satisfied they were with my work and how much they enjoyed working with me.

Writers block

So every now and then, I’d ask one of those clients to write and send me a testimonial – something that I could use in my own marketing. Like everyone in business today, I’m always looking to add new clients… and a little positive press from time to time never hurts.

Naturally, I had to wait months for my client to get around to writing their testimonial, but eventually it would arrive. Invariably, however, it was disappointing – to the point that I ultimately would decide not to print or use it.

Recently, I conducted a workshop here in New York City. It was a one-hour workshop and while participants didn’t need to pay, I did ask them to repay me by sending me a written testimonial. I explained that I’d like to use their testimonial in my future promotion.

Most of what I received fell into that same disappointing category I mention above.

Sure, it was nice when one of the participants wrote, “I thought your seminar was extremely helpful and wonderful.” But that didn’t really say anything about how that participant benefited, how much he learned in only one hour, how it corrected many misconceptions he previously held, how it could help him make more money, and so on.

Will Rico, Co-founder of RaveAbout.Us, and his team have a better way of obtaining absolutely brilliant testimonials.

Take this “before” testimonial from a client of a bookkeeping service. (It’s exactly what I talked about above.)

Acme Bookkeeping is a great bunch of people and I like working with all of them. They do nice work.

Well, that’s certainly sincere. But it really doesn’t tell me much. It doesn’t tell me about the business or the person writing the testimonial. It doesn’t tell me what issues they may have had in the past and how Acme Bookkeeping came to the rescue. And it doesn’t say how long they’ve been using Acme.

The best way to get a really powerful and effective testimonial is to interview a satisfied customer, record the interview (with their permission, of course), transcribe that interview and then edit it. This approach would and could provide a testimonial not only with a considerable amount of information, but that also told a great story on behalf of the business. And that’s exactly the approach that Will Rico and his team take.

Obviously, I’ve fictionalized the names, but ultimately they come back with something like this:

I used to do the bookkeeping myself. But because we deal with hundreds of clients every month, I couldn’t keep up. As soon as I admitted to myself that I needed help, I contacted John Smith at Acme Bookkeeping.

Today, I send the information to John. He does all the tracking. Plus, he schedules payments and cuts all the checks for us. Acme also reviews my accounts receivable, reconciles our bank statements, and reconciles our credit card statements. Acme saves me a ton of time.

After three years of working with Acme, the biggest impacts on our company are organization and time saving. I personally save 8 hours a week and I’m using those 8 hours to spend more time with clients and speak to more prospects.

I think any company our size that doesn’t need a full-time bookkeeper but does enough business that they need bookkeeping assistance, should definitely talk to Acme.

Pretty good… well written… concise… and as truthful as it comes. (And what you don’t know is that I removed the first paragraph that talked about some of the specifics or background of this bookkeeping service. I simply didn’t want to give away who Acme Bookkeeping really is.)

I don’t think that people intentionally write testimonials that businesses don’t want to publish. I’ve known some very intelligent people with excellent communication skills who simply have no knowledge as to what a testimonial needs to be. It’s not their fault. No one ever bothered to teach them.

And most business owners don’t know how to instruct a very satisfied customer of theirs as to what they’re looking for in that written testimonial.

By the way, as Will explains it, there’s more to it than the rather mechanical steps outlined above and making an audio recording. He says the key is knowing what questions to ask in order to extract the best and most usable facts from the customer, and to make the customer feel like it’s fun and definitely not a burden or intrusion on their time.


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