Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on August 19th, 2009

Got WOM? (Five Tips For Leveraging Testimonials)

Ask almost anyone and they will say that word of mouth (WOM) is more powerful than any type of advertisement. Ever. It is one of the most powerful marketing tools you can use and it doesn’t cost a dime. But don’t let that fact stop you from marketing and advertising. What it should mean is that you need more buzz around your business, more WOM generated.

For those of us who dabble in the arts of SEO, effective WOM is leveraged through testimonials. Candid comments from customers who are not only satisfied by your product or service, but are willing to put it in writing, are very valuable. You can rant about how great your company is all day long, but at the end of the day, your credibility is going to ride on the waves of what your customers are saying.

This will not only help stroke your ego, but also inject some life into your sales department. Here are five tips for leveraging testimonials and increasing sales.

1. Keep Them Short

Unless you have an absolute gem of a quote, keep your testimonials to less than three sentences. It is better to have many small testimonials than one really long one. Collect them over time and put together what is known as a “lift letter”. By including this lift letter in your direct mail package or other marketing initiatives, you can really “lift” your sales significantly.

2. Use Testimonials Everywhere

Include them in sales packages, brochures, ads, on boxes. Put them on your website in their own special area, surrounded by a fine-ruled box. Say something to the effect: “We are proud of what our customers are saying.”

3. Get Specific

You want to use testimonials that are as specific as possible. I realize that you don’t have a choice since you aren’t writing the testimonials. But if you receive very vague testimonial from a client, ask them to elaborate within your “thank you” email. You may just get something back that POPS off the page.

4. Don’t Use Anonymous Testimonials

If you use anonymous testimonials, it may come across a bit fabricated. Use full names, or at least one name and an initial, with any testimonial. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing credibility.

5. Use Compliments

Sometimes clients who are satisfied with your service or product will compliment you on a job well done, or something to that effect. It is as easy as asking them if you can use the compliment or kind words for a collection of testimonials you are gathering for the business.

Testimonials are a very powerful and lucrative supplement to any overarching marketing initiative. They provide word of mouth advertising and don’t cost your business any money. You can talk all you want about your business, but most people who are looking to utilize your services will take testimonials much more to heart than (dare I say it?) sales pitch. You can gather testimonials by asking existing clients or customers to reflect upon their experiences with your business. In fact, if you excel at what you do, you may not have to do anything but open the email or answer the phone.