Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Advertising: The Power of a Testimonial.

The power of a testimonial.
You may have heard already through many sources that the goal of any marketing campaign these days is to develop deep relationships with your customer, concentrating your efforts on providing them with the best service before, during and after the sale, to create loyal customers, committed with your brand, who buy from you one and again, and frequently recommend you with friends, family and relatives.

If you Google on the subject you will find, for sure, thousands of blogs talking about this topic, including the one you are reading now, and spaces where, in a regular basis, interesting information is provided, with tips and recommended strategies that can be very valuable indeed and help you grow your business dramatically, helping you to create (or at least trying to create) loyal customers.

One tool that I find it funny not to see more people talking about and not even more regularly included on lists of recommendations and strategies, is the customer’s testimonial.

What is a customer’s testimonial?

It’s a unique and really valuable concept. The customer’s testimonial is just that: A customer who is so pleased with your products and services that has something positive to say about you and would be totally happy and eager to do so and even share it with others.

Even if you haven’t noticed it already, or that customer hasn’t talked directly with you, chances are that he’s already talked about you with his friends, relatives and co-workers, even if only to share one or two comments about how good it has been for him doing business or buying from you.

In fact, to your best benefit, you might have already been rewarded by this customer with a second or third visit to buy more from you.

How do you get a satisfied customer to share his testimony?

Whether your company is new on business with just a few customers, or if you already have been in business for a long time with hundreds of clients, if you've done your homework properly, you might already have a real inventory of customers who could become your best business card for bringing in new customers and, going a bit further, you could even develop with them your most powerful advertising campaigns yet.

The problem is, in many cases, how to get that customer to share his testimony without placing them on an embarrassing situation, or just feeling unnecessarily uncomfortable about doing it.

Often, the initial temptation is to offer them something in return, some kind of incentive, something special, and that's a mistake. If you offer your customer something tangible, it could be taken as a form of payment and the credibility of the testimony would be completely jeopardized!

Recognize the value of your customer and its testimony.

The easiest way to motivate a client to share his testimony with others is by first recognizing how valuable that customer is for you, and strengthen your commitment with him to continue offering many reasons to be happy with your product and brand.

If you fulfill your commitment, or have already done it over the time, your client will have no problem in sharing his testimony with others, because you’ve really honored your promises, your commitment and your client is happy.

You should also recognize the value of your customer’s testimony, inviting him to share his opinion with other customers. Show him his opinion is important to you and for others who can benefit from what he thinks. The tools to do this abound, especially with the extraordinary growth of the Internet and the already established presence of social networks in our lives.

Take care of opening spaces through which your happy customer can comment and participate in the dynamics of your business with others. Invite him to share his feelings, and even what he knows about your products and services with others, recognizing the value of his knowledge, turning him into an integral part of your business and your strategies.

A testimonial can have any format.

From a simple letter of recommendation to a speech in front of a group of customers or prospects, you can offer your satisfied customer many ways to share his opinion about your company.

If your client agrees, record a video of his testimony and use it as part of your advertising campaign. I personally think it’s the best tool on top of others and, for several reasons:

  • A written recommendation: People say paper takes everything, so a simple letter of recommendation may not contain all the emotional input your happy customer would like to share with others and lack of credibility.
  • A photograph: Well yes. It’s used a lot with famous people. "I like this product. Signed: Me, the celebrity. "And this is a good one, but again, it lacks the full emotional load even though its credibility is higher.

However, most people agree that a picture is worth a thousand words, and especially when those pictures are in motion. There's nothing like being able to see and feel the full emotional package with which a customer speaks his mind about a product, specially about a company when he’s really satisfied. It's contagious, which conveys sincerity, realism and, therefore, is powerful and effective.

CAUTION: Never use an actor for this, no matter how good and authentic it might feel. There have already been cases of companies that have used actors for testimonials and it has all gone wrong.

Whichever the platform and strategy that you design to sharing your happy customer’s testimonials, don’t forget to take advantage of this powerful tool.

In advertising, there is nothing more valuable than the natural and voluntary recommendation from a satisfied customer. Will you include it your next advertising campaigns?

Related article: The value of relationships: What can you expect from social media?

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