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How to use testimonials to promote your business

Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools available to small businesses. So why not let your happy customers speak for themselves by using their positive feedback to promote your business?

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Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools available to small businesses. So why not let your happy customers speak for themselves by using their positive feedback to promote your business? Read our top 10 tips to collect and use testimonials. When done in the right way, testimonials can help you to reinforce your credibility and maximise sales. They can be used on your website, in press releases, on adverts, flyers and in brochures. Always be genuine There is nothing worse for the reputation of your company than using fake testimonials. Always source authentic feedback from your customers, and then make sure you display them in a way that reassures prospective customers of their validity. Want testimonials? Just ask If you don't ever ask your customers for feedback, how can you expect to get it? You must always ask permission before you publish someone else's comments and any identifying information. Get their consent in writing and keep a copy on file. Make it easy for people to give you feedback When anyone buys something from you, send out a short survey either by email or post asking for their feedback. At the end of the survey ask if they would mind you using their comments as testimonials or being contacted to provide a testimonial. Not everyone will say yes but some will. Or you may have a better success rate if you have a group of particularly loyal or long-standing customers, contact them directly and ask if they would be happy to share their experiences with others. If your customers are other businesses, there are associated benefits to giving you testimonials as they will get their name on your promotional materials and perhaps even a link to their website. Explain who is giving the testimonial Let your reader know who the person giving the testimonial is and why they should listen to them. For example, are they the same age, do they live in the same area or work in the same industry? Are they well known or well respected in your field? You should always include their full name, plus as much relevant information as you can fit into a one-line description. Use pictures Include a picture of the person who has given you the testimonial to help readers identify with the person recommending you. If what you sell lends itself to it, why not get a picture of your customer using one of your products? NEVER use a fake photo! Use multimedia If you feature testimonials on your website, you don't need to be restricted to text and images. Why not let your customers speak for themselves by introducing audio or video testimonials? Emphasise products and benefits Try not to use generic testimonials, as they don't offer the reader any useful information when deciding whether to buy from you. An effective testimonial describes a specific product, what it's like to use and the main benefit of using it. For example, "I've been using x product from x company for 10 years now. The service is first class, it's easy to use and I've saved more than £1,000." is more compelling than "I think x company is great." You can try to pull out these details in the way you ask for feedback by giving customers a set of open-ended questions to answer. Weave relevant testimonials into your content To increase the impact of testimonials, scatter them throughout your marketing materials. Use relevant reviews next to the product or service they are describing. This will help to reassure customers throughout the decision-making process. Keep it short If you want people to read your testimonials, they should be short and snappy. Only include the most relevant information. If you have a very long testimonial with lots of good stuff in it, cut it up into short segments and use it in different places. Use media testimonials It's not only customer testimonials that you can use. If you've had a positive write-up by your local paper, a trade magazine or from an industry expert, why not tell people about it? You can include a media section on your website with links through to the original articles or comments. Then use shortened quotes or a summary in your marketing, i.e. "A first class service – 5/5, Local Weekly".