Our printer pulled a rabbit out of a hat last week; amazing result considering the time frame, and the size of the run. We wrote a testimonial for him, as a way of saying thank you (and sorry). But it got me thinking, in the business world where recommendations and word-of-mouth are everything, how many times in the last six months had I penned a testimonial?
We’ve all had a time when a supplier has done a terrific job; when we’ve been thrilled they went above and beyond and delivered a stellar result; but what did we do with that experience – Anything?
On the flip side, I have spoken to many companies for case studies and testimonials for our clients and I am often surprised at how unenthused people are to give three minutes to the cause.
Why are we all so reluctant to give testimonials? We know how valuable they are to our own businesses… Is it just a time thing? Or, do we really understand their value?
Working in communications means it is often our job to tell the story of why a company is good, better or different in their world; and one way of doing this is through case studies and testimonials. There is enormous currency in case studies, (or references as they are called in the IT industry), for they are the documented evidence that you can do what you say you can and well. As I see it, giving testimonials is a great, free, long lasting marketing effort for YOUR Company as well as your suppliers.
Especially in fast paced project-oriented work such as events, conferences, software implementation, research or campaign-led work, we are so quickly on to the next thing, we forget about the successes, and if you are doing that then you can be sure that your clients are too.
But what happens when we need to tell our stories for the new website, newsletters, award submissions, tender documents? Who can you call on when you need to tell others we do the job, deliver the product and make a difference? Does everyone just cringe at the prospect?
Many talented professionals who do a great job are reluctant to ask for their clients to write down an endorsement. It is like we are saying, ‘I think you think we are great, can you please put that in writing?’ It is a little awkward. Wouldn’t it be great if they were just forthcoming?
Here’s why I think giving testimonials is good for your business:
- You scratch my back…good will is hard to measure in business but it is worth its weight in gold. A supplier will always remember you gave them a testimonial or allowed a case study to be done on them. Don’t underestimate the power of that – especially when your supply chain is everything.
- Feel good factor… supporting your suppliers, whether they be smaller or larger businesses than your own is what good corporate citizens do. Adding to the sustainability of other businesses around you is good for them, their employees and the community.
- Spread the love…acknowledging the craft, talents, ideas or time of another shows that you are a good person, and a good company. Others will know that you are a business that values great work, creativity and credibility… not bad for your brand too.
- Link back…one of the golden rules of developing good Search Engine Optimisation is links. If you have provided a testimonial or case study, ask to have it linked back to your site. It all helps.
- Free marketing…people searching on your supplier’s website, marketing or press, may just need your services too. Your name and brand keeps circulating, long after the initial effort.
- Pretend it’s Christmas…give your testimonials via emails, letters, recommendations on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter; or ‘cc’ as many people as possible, and write it so it can be used on your supplier’s websites.
- Where to start…writing comes more easily to some people than for others. It doesn’t have to be long, just be generous, kind and specific; talk about the job, the people and the outcome achieved.
There is art and science to collecting testimonials. Here are some pointers:
- Collect… your clients may write off the cuff emails, things on your social media channels or even text messages. We had a client write one word ‘WOW!!!’ in an email in response to a PR campaign. Grab the email, add their name and title and bam you have a testimonial.
- Debrief… in your debrief meetings, take notes and if something good comes up, write it down and ask your client if you can quote them.
- Ask… sometimes you just have to ask, for example for a new website. Make it clear what you want them to say, where it will be used, how long it needs to be (generally no than 80 words) and when you need it. Providing examples also makes it easier.
- Interview… most people have 5 minutes to spare whilst driving, waiting for a coffee or at the end of a day. Ask them if you can ring them, ask them a few questions, write it for them and then email it off for their OK.
- Be gracious…sometimes the answer is just no, or they need their bosses’ OK; if it isn’t going to work, don’t push it, it’s not worth harming the relationship.