So your company does great work that has customers coming back? Terrific! Now you need to spread the word to potential clients. And one of the best ways to do that is to present credible testimonials from customers and other influential members of your brand community.
Yes, it’s OK to tell people how great you are all by yourself—that’s called advertising. And yes, it works. But third-party endorsements, which can come in a variety of forms, can create enhanced credibility for your products or services. This elevated credibility, highlighted on your website and other forms of communications, will add to your brand’s momentum and help your company achieve a new level of growth, faster and more sustainably.
As is always the case in a smaller company with a bigger future, it’s best to start with a program of attracting referrals and testimonials that you can manage without adding a whole new burden to your schedule.
Here are five simple and proven ways to do so:
Make it Easy for People to Say Nice Things About You
Email is the easiest way to gather testimonials. You could simply invite customers to send their comments—which, given that you have plenty of happy clients, will naturally include testimonials—to your personal account. However, if you want to ensure some distance between your customers and you and other senior executives, you should make it a customer-centric email address, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to check it regularly—and respond just as fast.
If you wish to provide a more comprehensive opportunity for client comments, consider adding a customer survey to your website. Keep it simple and largely multiple choice by using a rating scale. For example, “How well did our product or service meet your expectations?”, with 1 meaning dreadful and 10 meaning perfect. The more questions you ask, the more incentives you should offer to complete the survey. Some companies offer an automatic coupon for customers’ next purchase, while others enter them in a draw for bigger prize. Again, keep the survey simple, not something you need to adjust every month.
Once you have a worthwhile sample of responses, you can create endorsement quotes of your own, such as “90% of our customers are 100% satisfied!” It’s also a good idea to include in the survey a comments box for those who want to provide more detailed feedback. You might capture a positive comment from this box that you can highlight on your website or in other marketing communications.
Just don’t twist the comments to make them sound better than the truth. After all, you’re not looking for blurbs as over the top as in ads for Hollywood movies.
Compile the data quarterly to give you trending information you can act on to improve customer service or inspire product innovation. Big automakers do this in order to make better cars, so why not your business?
You’ve Gotta Write ‘Em to Get ‘Em
Another way to help stimulate positive comments about your firm is to engage in and contribute to blogs and/or social-media platforms of key B2B customers you serve or supply. This is useful in and of itself, because it gives you a chance to learn more about your customers’ values and priorities, which informs your relationship with them.
But I mention this tactic here because it can be an effective way to generate testimonials. You may post a comment that catches a customer’s attention and prompts them to look into your firm’s online presence—assuming you have a blog and some kind of social-media presence. When customers read, with interest, your comments, they may provide equally interesting and genuinely supportive comments about you. Everybody wins!
Give Your Fans an Incentive to Find You Future Fans
One way to create opportunities for dialogue between you and influencers in your brand community, including existing customers, is to establish a referral program. Maybe you can offer points, cash or incentives for travel or luxury goods. You should think about setting up a
loyalty program that, however you structure it, encourages key members of your brand community to more actively recruit other customers.
Get Peer Recognition at an Awards Show
Winning an industry award is always sweet. Granted, a good monkey suit or glamorous gown might set you back more than a G-note, but the competitive edge afforded by industry acknowledgement is a high standard. It inspires greater loyalty among existing clients and attracts the curiosity of others who are not yet your customers.
Seek out the industry recognition that you have seen others in your space win. Find out what’s required to enter, and take a shot at it. Even if you don’t win—at least, not right away—you’ll get on the radar of other influential people in your space who’ll be looking for your next offering. As Woody Allen put it, 80% of success is about showing up. Besides, if you do win, you can usually get away with wearing a dark suit or little black dress.
Attract Media Attention—Carefully
Start by seeking out industry-specific reviews about your product or service. Post them on your website, cite them in sales materials and highlight them in relevant case studies. A well-written summary by a respected journalistic commentator who endorses your market promise, strategically surrounded by quotation marks, looks great—and reads even better.
But be careful. Seek out only respectable, recognized media influencers. Be respectful when you approach them, and be patient with your expectations.
Encouraging referrals and seeking out credible testimonials are great practices to embrace now if want your business to grow faster. Just don’t wait until you’ve done decades of great work before you leverage the good words that people are already saying about you. And your mom and dad don’t count.
Wayne S. Roberts is principal and chief creative officer of Blade Creative Branding, a firm specializing in strategic branding, creative advertising and innovative online solutions.
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