An extremely powerful marketing tool that we get "too busy" or "too smart" to use is the testimonial.

According to marketing guru Dan Kennedy, "What others say about you and your product, service, or business is at least 1000% more convincing than what you say, even if you are 1000% more eloquent."

The reason is obvious. Customers doubt what we say about ourselves, but believe other customers. And the more customers who say good things about us, the more prospective customers will believe them. Is this a new idea?

Frank Bettger discussed the power of testimonials in Chapter 18 of How I Raised Myself From Failure To Success In Selling, published in 1949, and I'm sure there are earlier examples.

When Ira Hayes of National Cash Register made sales calls, his presentation principally consisted of showing binders of testimonial letters to his customers.

Time management consultant Larry Dolan told marketing guru Dan Kennedy he closes every inquiry he gets for a speaking engagement. He has no brochure, no demo tape, no video tape. When a prospective client calls, Larry simply sends a hand-addressed box of copies of testimonial letters.

Can you imagine the power of hundreds of letters praising his presentation? This is more compelling and believable than anything Larry could say about himself.

So when you send a sales letter, include as many testimonials as possible. The testimonials are more likely to make the sale than your letter. When you make a sales presentation, have a supply of testimonial letters. If possible, get audio tapes and video tapes with testimonials.

Include testimonials in your advertisements. In some cases, an entire advertising campaign can be built around a series of testimonials. Those who are not permitted to use testimonials about the results of their products or services may be able to use testimonials about how they deliver their products or services. If these limitations apply to you, get legal counsel to advise you about what you can do.

For example, "The team at the Dr. Roth's office are so nice I would like to visit there for my summer vacation. They made me very comfortable when I had always been stressed out going to a dentist. Their office is so fun and oriented to patients that when I go there I feel like I'm at Disneyland! They took care of all of the paperwork for my insurance claims and helped me arrange a payment plan for my co-payment."

How To Get Testimonials

First, you must provide an outstanding product and service. Then, ask your customers for help. Interview your customers about what they really like about your product and the service you provide. What do they especially like about working with you and your company? Ask if they would write what they told you in a letter or if you can write it for them for their approval. Ask if you can tape record or video record your interview. If you make a presentation, request that the audience complete evaluation forms. Some of the comments could be valuable testimonials.

Another source of testimonials is a client/customer advisory board. We had a client advisory board for our firm last year. As a warm up, we asked the participants to tell about how they were involved with our firm. They responded with at least a half hour of beautiful testimonials, many of which we incorporated in our firm brochure. (Facilitating client/customer advisory boards is one of the services we offer.) Ask for, collect, and use testimonials for your business and you will see an improvement in your results!

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