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7 Rules For Electrifying Your Testimonials

One of the most misused forms of sales and marketing is the testimonial.

This is a shame because it's also one of the most powerful things you can do to promote your business to prospects. Testimonials are referrals or endorsements from your customers and serve as statements that testify to your competence, professionalism and ability to deliver a strong product or service. Testimonials are widely used not only because they're effective but because they are low-cost or free way to promote you business and build its image.

By all means, use testimonials but make sure to use them properly or they won't deliver much of a punch. There's are easy ways around the classic mistakes made by so many users of testimonials. Just follow these seven rules to help ensure your testimonials deliver new customers in a big way.

1. Use the person's full name, title and company. Anonymous testimonials carry no credibility. They suggest you never bothered to get the person's permission to use the statement, or that they gave some excuse why their name couldn't be associated. That's a very bad sign. More cynical people might even think you fabricated the quote, which destroys your integrity with that prospect. By contrast, a testimonial attributed to a person of high rank with a respected company elevates your company's status. If someone isn't willing to stand behind their testimonial you're most likely dealing with someone who isn't a true fan of your business. Move on.

2. Make sure your testimonials are recent. If you've been using the same statements on your marketing materials for five or 10 years it indicates you haven't been active. It's important to refresh the testimonials and keep them up to date and relevant. If your testimonials are outdated people are apt to think your business is outdated.

3. Use a photo. You know the person making the endorsement is really committed to their statement when they agree to have their name, title, company and photograph as accompaniments. It also brings a visual dimension to your testimonials, bringing them more fully to life. Photos help attract the eye, increases the odds people will read your testimonials.

4. Use testimonials from well-known people and companies that have celebrity value. If you have client companies such as GE, FedEx, Google and Southwest Airlines what does that say about you? That you're playing with the big boys. That you've got the chops to do business with Fortune 500 companies. That's a major seal of approval. If the business person providing the testimonial is a C-level executive, that adds additional sizzle. Naturally, the statement also takes on heightened status when it comes from a well-known business leader of local or national repute. There's a reason why major corporations use people like Michael Jordan and Valerie Bertinelli to endorse their products.

5. Make sure they're effusive. I see far too many testimonials that are lukewarm in their praise. You're better off using no testimonials than ones that sound like they were grudgingly supplied. Good testimonials are given without reservation and are enthusiastic in their endorsement. Your prospective clients aren't likely to get a charge from testimonials that don't include plausible superlatives.

6. Use at least three. A single testimonial leaves your business sounding like it has one lonely fan. Two tends to be a bit thin unless they're truly outstanding. Three good testimonials give you substance. More are fine but don't go crazy or it becomes overkill and can make you look like you're trying too hard. Keep them fresh, effusive and selective.

7. Use audio or video. If a person is willing to go on video or be recorded it shows true commitment to being a spokesperson for your business. And the testimonials come to life with vocal inflections and facial expressions. It's much harder to fake enthusiasm for a product or service during an audio or video recording session.

Follow these rules and your testimonials will stand head-and-shoulders above the vast majority of your competitors. That means you'll win the business and grow your company.

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