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How To Ask For a Testimonial?

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#1 rachit


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Posted 11 March 2006 - 02:08 PM

Hi guys,

I'm just finishing work with a client ... and it's been a long & fulfilling relationship. I think it will help my sales a lot of my future prospects get to hear of this success story.

Does anyone have any ideas on what tone/language to use while asking for a testimonial ? Any other guidelines I need to follow ?


#2 Nadir


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Posted 11 March 2006 - 02:16 PM

If you had a good relationship with them, I don't think you have to worry about finding the right tone to use...
Just ask. For example, if you don't wanna ask directly for a "testimonial", you could ask for a review of your services that they will write in an email and you will ask them the authorization to publish an extract or the entire review on your site (testimonial).

#3 Respree


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Posted 11 March 2006 - 08:53 PM

Welcome to Cre8asite, Rachit.

I believe you are right in your thinking the testimonials will help convince your potential that you're the right person for the job.

The method of obtaining testimonials, I suspect, may vary depending on what type of business one is involved in.

For me, I don't really solicit them. I provide them with the best service that I know how, and they write to me with their kind words of appreciation. What I find often works in making customers happy is going out of your way for them, do the things you don't have to do, do the things the 'other guy' wouldn't do, or think of to do. It's easy to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack, but of course, that takes a little 'extra' effort.

Of course, I have thousands of customers. Your business may be different, where glowing testimonials may not just automatically fall like pennies from heaven.

If I were in a position where I did have to ask, I would be inclined to solicite the testimonial by e-mail.

I would do exactly the same as I described above, providing them with superior levels of service. I'd set up a solid rapport with them. I'd make sure I did what I said I would do (and hopefully more). I'd hopefully have produce for them something of value; something that would have saved them time or money. Armed with that knowledge, I've now increased the likelihood that, should they agree to write something about me, the feedback will be favorable.

Then simply ask. "Say Bob. I was wondering if you might able to help me? As you may know, I am just starting my _____ business and I'm very interesting in feedback from you how you perceived the value you received from my services (or goods) to you (or your company). If you don't mind, I'd like to share your feedback [on my website] with other potential customers, so they can make an informed decision about your dealings with me. Will you help me?"

'Hopefully', they'll respond, "Sure, what do you want me to say? How long should the testimonial be?, etc."

Then respond back asking him to comment on your level of service, attention to details, timeliness, quality of products, or whatever else you want him to talk about.

Before doing this, I'd have some level of comfort and fair amount of certainty that he's likely to respond favorably.

My sample inquiry to my fictious customer, 'Bob', uses several techniques.

1. I was wondering if you could help me?

If the customer is 'very' pleased with what they've received, I think most people would be happy to help someone that's been so helpful to them. Realistically, the help you're asking for is not a lot to ask -- a few minutes of their time.

2. I'd like to share your thoughts with other potential customers...

Explains why you want this information. If Bob is happy with what he's received, he'll realize the potential impact of his actions could translate to additional business for you, thus repaying him the 'favor'.

3. Will you help me?

End the request with a call to action. ABC - "Always Be Closing."

Anyway, that's how I would approach it.

Hope this helps.

Edited by Respree, 12 March 2006 - 12:28 PM.

#4 JohnMu


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Posted 12 March 2006 - 06:02 AM

I'm with Respree on this one; I never explicitly ask for testimonials -- unless it is a very special situation with the customer, doing things for the first time, big names, etc.

However, what I do is to systematically ask my customers for feedback -- a few months after the sale, once every 1-2 years for all customers, etc. I don't explicitily ask for a testimonial but instead ask for feedback on certain specific changes, ideas, etc. And ... I leave room for their personal comments. Usually you hear the best things when you don't ask. And -- those testimonials are worth gold for your ego, especially when they come from people from whom you would never expect it :-)


#5 travis


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Posted 12 March 2006 - 06:36 AM

Just ask "Mate, can we have some guff to put on our site ?"

Testimonials do carry a little more credibility than what you write on your website, but not much.

Your portfolio is the best indication of what the customer will end up with.

We are working on a very large client at the moment, so we made it a contractual condition that we could write a news item about them on our site at any stage afterwards.

If they want to add some guff, fine. If not, no drama.

You will find that if you do a great job, your customers will be happy to talk on your behalf.

Testimonials are meant as an independent validation of your work, but in web design, that occurs between your clients and potential customers in private conversations.

People can smell fake endorsements a mile away, so my only advice is that you make sure that your testimonials dont fall into this category.

#6 Eddie


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Posted 12 March 2006 - 06:45 AM

People can smell fake endorsements a mile away, so my only advice is that you make sure that your testimonials dont fall into this category.

View Post

I always supply a clickable link, so that anyone can email or telephone to confirm it is a genuine testimonial.

#7 JohnMu


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Posted 12 March 2006 - 07:40 AM

Just slightly on-topic but funny anyway: http://www.mattcutts...y-testimonials/

Rachit, if this is one of your first big jobs in that area, then I would work hard on getting some sort of testimonial, letter of recommendation, etc. If not, perhaps you can still show your work, in your portfolio or whereever as an example of the work that you can do (perhaps show approximate numbers or percentages, if you reached or surpassed certain measurable goals).

I'm one of those that falls for "new talent" and I like to give new guys a chance at doing some good work that they can re-use later as a reference -- but I do like to see some of their other work at least so that I can get a sense of their style. For new guys, I know they can't present a list of references, testimonials, etc -- but they can show me other similar things that they've done before (even if only for themselves).


PS once you have a collection of testimonials, you might even consider NOT showing the overly-postitive testimonials because they can sometimes just look fake. I think a 95% "done a great job" that is believable is sometimes better than a 105% "fantastic! give the guy a prize!" that might be unbelievable (even if you did get it in exactly that wording)




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Posted 12 March 2006 - 09:46 AM

I think that a person need to be careful with this as a lot of information is very private and should be kept that way.

For design work I think that it is safe to share who has done work for who and share the visual results of that work. IF the designer is happy enough about the job that they have done to want to showcase it then you probably got value for your money. The only caution here is not to reveal information such as traffic or income or other private matters - and you need to let the client review anything that will be posted in advance.
However, for SEO work, I think that it is very poor insight to say... we took this guy's sales from peanuts to millions and then post a URL to his site. That is an invitation for someone who is smarter than you or more powerful to kick his butt and take his money. It might seem to benefit the marketing goals, and maybe it does short term, but in the long run it will not be a winner. So, if an SEO ask me for testimonial to post on his site, I will know that he is not a wise man and he has probably earned his last dollar from me.

If you frequently the forums and read these types of discussions you will see heated debate on this subject. I have used those debates to easily decide who will never get my business. I know a couple of SEOs who stand strongly on the privacy side and they are the ones who I would trust enough to pay them for help - and it is important to note that they are the same posters who I highly regard for many other reasons. Smart people overall.

Edited by EGOL, 12 March 2006 - 09:51 AM.

#9 JohnMu


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Posted 12 March 2006 - 09:59 AM

I suppose what we are all saying is "it depends" :-)

... on your line of work
... on your experience in that line of work
... on your reputation in that line of work
... on your customers
... on their satisfaction
... on your customers line of work

Sure, for SEO work I don't think testimonials are the way to go at all. However, say you are selling normal software - testimonials could really go a long way. Selling hamburgers, testimonials are a bit over the top ("Hey, I really liked that double cheeseburger - Joe Blue, Minnesotta"), but if you are selling hamburger grills to restaurant chains it might work ("Your self-cleaning grills saved us $$$$$$, thanks for your support - McD" or even just a customer list would work, if the names are well known and it is plausable that they really use it).


Edited by softplus, 12 March 2006 - 09:59 AM.

#10 meriweather


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Posted 12 March 2006 - 10:00 AM

I'd just like to add my amen to Egol's post.

While SEO, and marketing in general are all highly visible activities, it's my conviction that it should always appear that it is the organization itself running it's show. When I can complete a marketing job, have it run successfully, and have no one know that I was involved with it, I feel I have succeeded.

My turn comes when the owners and principles of these companies get together with their peers and start talking shop, asking questions such as, "who was it that set up that brilliant marketing campaign for you"? Those are the kinds of testimonials I look for, and not the easily faked post on the web site.


#11 rachit


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Posted 12 March 2006 - 11:30 AM

Wow! This is turning into one heated discussion :D

Thanks for all your comments, I'm learning something from each and everyone of you ... for someone coming into this thread just now, this is what I've learnt

- Don't be afriad to ask for a reference or testimonial. It comes naturally to a good client-consultant relationship

- Protect the privacy of my client and make sure competitors don't take advantage of any details I give out.

- Provide enough details so that prospective clients can get an idea as to what I can do for them

- Don't show only positive ones, might seem fake

- If possible, link to clients or make references available

... and Respree gave me a bunch of simple ways to bring up this in a discussion and have them provide feedback

You guys are fantastic!


#12 Respree


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Posted 12 March 2006 - 07:51 PM

I'm glad you found some of my suggestions helpful, rachit.

Here's a thread entitlted A Little Service Goes a Long Way, which, among other things, discusses the 'little' things you can do that get favorable reactions from your customers. These types of things 'just' might encourage them to give you a little favor back (i.e. the testimonials you seek).

#13 DianeV


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Posted 12 March 2006 - 08:18 PM

There are a couple of points here: testimonials are good, especially if they can be verified privately between potential and past/existing clients, and although some people tend to discount any testimonials out of hand, others don't. At their bottom line, testimonials are simply statements that offer insight into what it's like to work with a company and receive its services or products.

EGOL has a point, too. Clients tend to impart information, partially for purposes of developing marketing approaches and partially in passing conversation. I can't see it any other way than to treat both as strictly confidential. It's a matter of trust between people and professionalism, is it not?

As well, during or after the development of a website, clients may communicate praise. However, where you wish to do so, I think it's best to ask the client if what was essentially a private communicate may be used as a public testimonial. Otherwise, it's again a breach of trust ... and, for some clients, there may be reasons why they may not want their statements to be public.

In essence: be honest, be trustworthy, do a good job, and keep your word.

#14 dgeary9


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Posted 12 March 2006 - 09:19 PM

I don't do testimonials, instead I do:

1) short case studies, where I tell the story of what I did for the client, but don't name them. That helps other potential clients understand what sorts of clients I work with, what problems they started with, and what I delivered (these are short and general, but potential clients have commented they are very helpful - "web analytics" isn't particularly well understood)

2) references - clients who are willing to be called by a prospective client. I use clients very sparingly in this regard, and I make sure to "match" the client and prospect well (type of project, personality, budget, etc).

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