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Turn Customer Comments into Powerful Testimonials

Posted by Jason Keith  October 19, 2011 06:00 AM

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I've written about online reviews and how to respond to them, as well as the importance of referrals as a small business owner.  Ultimately, these are just different forms of word of mouth marketing, which is always the most effective.  If you’ve got a lot of people talking about your product or service and how great it is, demand will grow. Apple has been a gold standard when it comes to word of mouth marketing.

There’s a reason why customer reviews are everywhere: people want to read them, do their research and then decide if they want to buy a product. That’s why so many companies are scouring social media to find those that have “influence” and can talk about a certain product or brand in a positive way.  Consumers influence other consumers on how and what to buy. 

One trend that’s starting to be reignited in marketing is testimonials, or using real customer feedback to potentially influence customer decisions.  Businesses everywhere are starting to use this tactic more and more. They’re pulling positive quotes from feedback forms, Facebook, Twitter, research studies and elsewhere. Those then get incorporated into marketing materials of all kinds, television and radio ads, even online banner ads.  

If a business has a real customer that gives a positive quote like, “I loved the quality of your products and they were so easy to order!” it would be crazy not to use it.  The same can be said of any small business. In fact the Trust in Advertising survey of 2008 found that Consumer Recommendations are the most credible form of advertising.

Chances are you’ve had customers talk about how wonderful it was to do business with you, how great the products are or how they would recommend you to a friend. Instead of just letting those comments fall by the wayside, collect them in a way where they can be used in the future, to help encourage others to purchase. Here’s how to collect customer testimonials, refine them and promote them to increase their influence:   

Collect them:  This can be tricky, but not if some creativity is applied.  On a website, leave an area or form for customers to leave feedback, positive and negative.  Encourage feedback by sending out email or direct mail campaigns asking for it, rather than hitting repeat customers with an offer.  Because it’s not promotional, customers will appreciate being asked to weigh in. Social media followers on Facebook or Twitter can also be ideal places to pull from, if those properties are something your business engages in. 

Refine them:  Typically customers will be brief when giving positive feedback, or verbose. Either can be refined and leveraged for marketing materials.  Don’t be afraid to use longer quotes along with short sound bites. Take the few quotes you want to use, ensure they’re correct grammatically and then reach back out to the customer (if possible) to let them know.  Getting their “approval” is always an important part of the process. Make sure to include the customer’s first name and location with the testimonial, which helps lend credibility to the quote. 

Promote them:  Truthfully, customer testimonials can be used anywhere once they’ve been collected. Create a separate tab on your website dedicated to them, put them in email creative that includes an offer or even on the home page of the businesses website.  Direct mail pieces could include a short quote and so could banner ads if you’re using them. Promoting these quotes reinforces that other customers have had a positive experience and can influence prospects to do the same. They present a business in a good light and immediately give a positive impression. 

Have you used customer testimonials as a small business? What kind of success have you had with them? Do testimonials influence your purchase decisions? 

 

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About this blog

Jason Keith has been working for and with small businesses in the New England area for more than 10 years, specifically small, micro businesses. Born and raised in Massachusetts and a former journalist, he provides a unique perspective on the issues facing small businesses locally and nationally.To reach him directly email jasonpkeith@gmail.com.

This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here are the author's alone.

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