The secret to getting truly great testimonials

July 8, 2024

We all realise the importance of testimonials in marketing. But most small business websites neglect testimonials or, if they do use them, they tend to be the usual “blah, blah, blah” that no one bothers to read. Often hidden away on an inner page.

I was reminded today of the great potential of testimonials – when they are used correctly. Look at the picture below. It shows the home page of a website selling standby power generators. About as boring a product as you can get. And most websites selling standby power generators are appropriately dull and boring. Not this one, though.

A great example of how to use testimonials effectively on a small business website
A great example of how to use testimonials effectively on a website. The couple in this case are giving genuine feedback about the peace of mind they have got by using the Gen-Plus backup generator. It’s authentic, tells a story – and the couple’s photo adds extra credibility.

How to get great testimonials

Most businesses, when they realise they need testimonials, contact a few of their best customers and ask “would you mind writing me a testimonial?” The problem with this approach is, no one really likes writing testimonials. It’s a pain.

Your best customers will usually make the effort, since they want to help you. So they will write something positive, the usual stuff about how great you are to work with, great service etc. Pretty predictable stuff. Better than no testimonials at all. But you could do a lot better!

An improvement on this approach is to phone your customer/client and ask them to tell you in their own words why they like dealing with you. Then you write down what they say and turn it into a testimonial. This produces more spontaneous comments than you’ll get if the customer writes it directly.

But there’s still a drawback. Your customers tend to tell you what they think you want to hear. And this results in a somewhat sugar-coated testimonial, not much better than the standard “blah, blah, blah”.

But there’s a third way, which hardly anybody is using (and which I happen to know is the approach used by Gen-Plus in the example above). This involves hiring a marketing agency to contact some of your best customers/clients. Get the marketing agency (a neutral third party) to ask your customers what they think of your business.

Then you’ll get honest answers. You will get the real story – and quite often you will get genuine gems, which you can use as the basis of your sales copy!