How to Boost Sales With Testimonials

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One of the most powerful marketing tools you have at your disposal doesn’t cost a penny.

I’m talking about testimonials. You see, candid comments from satisfied customers who have used your product or service have credibility that money can’t buy.

You can make claims about your product all day long, but your prospects know they’re self-serving words. On the other hand, rave reviews from objective users carry a lot of weight and can help you boost sales.

What’s the best way to use testimonials in direct marketing? Here are some practical ideas for you to consider:

1. Use testimonials wherever you can.
You can include them in sales letters, brochures, ads, on product boxes –  you name it. Consider putting several testimonials into a special area on the page surrounded by a fine-ruled box. You can set up the testimonials with the headline: “We’re proud of what our customers have to say about us.”

2. Keep them short.
A testimonial should be one, two, or three sentences long . . . unless you’ve got a real humdinger. Remember, it’s better to have many short testimonials than a few long ones. If, over time you collect a big bunch of testimonials, you can make a “lift letter” out of them and include it in a direct mail package. This kind of a lift piece can really increase response rates.

3. Don’t use anonymous testimonials.
If you’re selling hemorrhoid cream, you can’t expect someone to write a testimonial and then let you use his or her name and hometown. But if you’re selling just about anything else you need at least the person’s full name. Initials just don’t cut it.

4. Try to get testimonials that relate to specific benefits.
You don’t want testimonials that are too general. As always, it’s good to be specific!

VAGUE: “Cynthia’s seminar was really great. I thoroughly enjoyed it!”
SPECIFIC: “Cynthia’s time-management seminar showed me how to save the hour a day I was wasting. I sure can use those five extra hours a week!”

VAGUE: “Thanks for copywriting the terrific e-mail invitation for our online seminar.”
SPECIFIC: “Thanks for copywriting the terrific e-mail invitation for our online seminar. The response rate was truly outstanding — 300% better than we expected!”

VAGUE: “Your organization-chart software is really wonderful. I love using it and recommend it.”
SPECIFIC: “Your organization-chart software is really wonderful because it shows who’s who in the company at a glance. This means that all our new-hires can get up to speed three times faster than they used to. I love using it and recommend it.”

5. Use spontaneous compliments.
Let’s pretend that you’re talking to a customer or client and they say, “Hey, your software is really fabulous. It’s helped us cut costs by about 20%!” How do you respond? It’s fine to say, “Thanks very much. That’s awfully nice to hear.” But you should keep going and add, “Can I use those kind words in a testimonial. We’re collecting nice things that clients have to say about us and I’d sure like to use what you’ve just said if that’s O.K.” See how easy it is?!

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