Like many aspects of running your coaching business, getting valuable testimonials is part art, part science. The science is in how to make the request. The art is in working with your clients to craft a useable testimonial.
Time and Space = Valuable Real Estate
When I first began my business, I felt lucky to get any kind of testimonial. As I began to market products and workshops, I realized that text space and the prospects time are limited commodities. In marketing, streamlined language is essential.
Why is less more in marketing? Because as consumers, our attention span is short and many marketing messages are coming at us all the time. The only exception to the less is more rule in marketing is the “slippery slope" – those long sales pages for products. (That’s for another ezine. ) For a testimonial to compel a prospect to buy, the prospect must:
1. Want to read it.
2. Believe the author is a real person.
3. See themselves in the author – the same challenges, the same goals.
4. See the concrete results the author received from your product or service.
It’s a scientific fact that most people read only 10% of what’s before them, so as marketers we must make it compelling to read what we put before our prospects. That means:
- Short paragraphs.
- Text stacks of 5 lines or less.
- Word-smithed sentences with imperative language.
- Get to the most important points quickly.
- Appropriate grammar and punctuation.
Prospects will believe your testimonial is from a real person if you:
- Show a picture of the author next to the testimonial.
- Have the author’s name and either state, company name or title at the end.
- Have an audio version along with a short written version.
Relate to This!
You know what your prospects biggest challenges and goals are. Ask your clients to speak to those in their testimonial. It won’t be a stretch for them.
To buy your services, your prospects must see that your product or service will bring them the results they want. Make sure that your clients speak to quantified and qualified actual and specific outcomes they have gained through your product or service.
From Average to Awesome
While it feels great to receive a testimonial like the first one below, for the most part, it isn’t useable in marketing for three reasons:
- The length and stacked text are not inviting (so won’t likely be read).
- It focuses on coaching skills and the quality of our relationship rather than significant, concrete and specific results gained from my services.
- Abstract language, while poetically pleasing, leaves the prospect wanting something they can wrap their arms around – tangible evidence.
I hired Rhonda Hess as my coach because I wanted her to help me create my own coaching business and get beyond my self-imposed limits. I had no idea she would be instrumental in helping me find myself. Because of her belief and commitment in me, I am now living the life of the person I always dreamed I could be. Bigger than I thought I could be. Through her listening, questioning and insights, she allowed me to see and to bring to life character traits in myself that I now use to make a difference in the world, which is what really matters to me. She has a gift in her ability to get beyond surface issues and asks questions which move you above and beyond where even you thought you could go. Every time a session ended, I would hang up the phone and be amazed at what had transpired (in me) in less than an hour. She is very spiritual, connected to the workings of the universe, honest, caring and generous. I couldn't have found a more valuable coach.
Now, I ask for and receive short, powerful testimonials that tell a story. Every sentence could stand on it’s own and have impact.
With Rhonda as my thinking partner, my practice shifted from floundering to full in 4 months. Instead of trying to find and convince prospects, they come find me with intention to engage my services! Because I value myself and my services now, I set my business up for success so that nearly every sample session I give brings me a new ideal client.
- Joan Crouch, The Artful Coach
Ask and You Shall Receive
To receive an effective testimonial from a client requires proactively asking and crafting it.
1. As you work with clients, keep a running list of their specific accomplishments and any positive feedback they give you.
2. When you’re ready to ask for the testimonial, ask verbally, then follow with guidelines by email. Include:
- Suggested length: 3 to 5 sentences, 75 words or less.
- A request for specific measurable achievement/breakthroughs.
- Your list of their accomplishments and positive feedback as examples of ones they might include.
- A couple examples of testimonials that fit your guidelines.
- Suggestion to use “I” language rather than “you”.
- Suggestion for varied sentence structure.
- A time frame to get it back to you (2 weeks is reasonable).
- Their permission for you to slightly edit the testimonial.
- Their permission to include their name, etc.
- A small headshot in jpeg for Internet, tif for print (optional).
- Instructions for an audio version (optional).
3. When you get their testimonial, give them a call to thank them personally.
4. Edit, if necessary, with an intention to preserve their meaning and most of their words. Sometimes, unbidden, a client will send you an email that is the seed of a great testimonial. Ask them if you can use that for marketing purposes.
List at least three testimonials but no more than ten. If you’re just getting started and don’t have paying clients yet, get testimonials from individuals who have experienced your skills. If you’re marketing a product, give away a few to get the first testimonials.
Always have testimonials that highlight different benefits. Swap them out for new ones from time to time. Never use a testimonial that doesn’t make your services or product look valuable.
Rhonda Hess is a business success mentor coach for professional coaches and other entrepreneurs. Her new business, Prosperous CoachTM - a professional development resource for coaches - launches early 2007. To learn more and receive special offers, subscribe to Coaching from Center ezine www.bubblingwell.com