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May 1999

 

Feature

Build Prospect Confidence With Testimonials - Susanna K. Hutcheson

Susanna K. Hutcheson Because your prospects expect you to say fantastic things about your product, service or opportunity, a positive testimonial should be your best friend! When a prospect hears what other people have to say-- how much you have done for them, how you and your product or opportunity changed their lives-- she trades in her skepticism, however mild and friendly, for belief and trust. Testimonials substantiate your claims and enthusiasm by building your prospects' confidence in you and your business.

We all look to other people to help us make decisions. Has a friend or neighbor or someone you really admire or respect ever swayed you? Sure, they have. We all have been swayed by what other people think. The more people we see doing something, the smarter it seems. Testimonials encourage people to want to get on the bandwagon. If someone you really like or admire from afar is doing this, or has that, or is part of a business, you would like to do the same thing, right? So would everyone else.

If you haven't been actively using testimonials to build your Network Marketing business, get excited-- prospecting just got a whole lot easier! Here is a beginner's guide to making testimonials work for you.

Actively collect testimonials. You need a file of as many diverse testimonials and success stories as possible. Start collecting them now so that you'll have them ready to go at any time. Waiting until you actually need them can be very stressful. Create an ongoing system of collection and get written permission-- with no time limit-- to use the testimonials for as long as you might need them.

"But how do I get started?" you ask. Don't worry, it's easy. Ask your customers to tell you what they really like about your product and the service you provide. Ask your recruits to tell you what makes you unique as a member of their upline? 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 and signature. (This is duplicatable, folks-- lead by example so they get their own testimonials!)

Here's an easy method you can use effectively. A short time after signing someone up or selling a new customer some products, send your customer or recruit a personal postcard asking what they liked best about your product or opportunity, whichever the case. You'll be delighted at some of the comments you get. When you receive comments you want to use in your advertising, ask the customer to sign a release giving you permission to quote those comments in your promotional material. Some people don't bother to do this, but I think you should.

The release form I use includes the full text of the client's comments. I ask for permission to use the comments "in complete or edited form" so I can shorten the text when it's too long. I also request permission to use the customer's name and title, city and state and, if applicable, business name. It will appear as "Rodney M. Brown, San Jose, CA." instead of "R.B., CA." The client's privacy is protected by omitting the street address.

Sometimes my clients will say something really nice about me or my service. It would be a shame not to use this information as a testimonial, so I ask them then and there if I can use what they've said in my promotional material. They usually say yes. Then I type it up and fax it to them for their approval and signature.

Use testimonials from people similar to your prospects. The people you quote should be as much like your ideal prospect as possible. This increases identification and the feeling of relevance. A Network Marketer will believe other Network Marketers; a business owner will believe other business owners; a senior citizen will believe other senior citizens. This is one reason you should collect lots of testimonials from a variety of people-- you can carefully select targeted quotes when you need them from people with experience that's congruent with your prospect's. Testimonials from experts are especially effective, so gather those whenever you can.

Sometimes when a client phones me and is really excited about the results of a mailing or ad or radio spot I wrote, I will ask her if it's okay to quote her and perhaps use the quote in my mailings or on my Web site? Usually I get her to sign a simple release, although some people might not find that necessary. A verbal agreement is usually adequate.

Use real testimonials. Don't try to rewrite or fabricate testimonials. No matter how poorly worded, the real words of real people are always more believable than anything a writer can come up with. I quote people just as they write or say it-- even with mistakes in grammar. Making up quotes is unethical. If you have trouble getting quotes, there's something wrong with what you're selling! Do something about it! Quick!

Edit testimonials carefully. If you must edit, do so prudently. Don't change the meaning. Don't enhance. Don't give words and phrases out of context. Don't add words to make the testimonial sound more grand.

I like to have many short quotes rather than a few long ones. Testimonials show that people-- lots of people-- buy your product, use your service, or are part of your opportunity. The more people praise you, your product, your service or opportunity, the more credible you are.

However, don't allow your testimonials to degenerate into meaningless, one-word blurbs like those used to promote movies: "Incredible," "A Blockbuster," "A Must See." This is not the image you want to get across. You want some meaningful quotes. But keep them short. Two to four sentences or one brief paragraph is usually fine.

Don't be afraid of long testimonials. Sound contradictory to the previous tip? It's not. Sometimes you get a letter or comment that says it all, like the letter I have from the CEO of Hoge Industries in New York. It runs just over one page and it really lifts my credibility to new prospective clients. It's on his letterhead with his signature, so it's of real value to me. I recommend turning a particularly good testimonial into a lift letter.

A lift letter is a short note or letter designed to lift responses. Usually it's written by an officer of a company, but for our purposes, we can use a long testimonial of five or six paragraphs as a lift letter. It should be no longer than one or one and a half pages in length. It may be a story, an emotional revelation, an authoritative remark from an expert or just a simple comment that hits the nail on the head. If you can, get a letter from someone who has really benefited from using your product or being part of your opportunity. Then use it as part of your marketing-- it's worth gold!

Group testimonials together. When possible, separate testimonials as an insert in a direct mail package. Don't include them in the body of the letter or brochure. In other words, make them a separate element so they stand out and get the reader to move on to the next thing. That prevents them from stopping and throwing your package away. I have one client, for example, who has one full page of brief testimonials. They include the full name, title and company name of the person quoted.

In print ads or brochures, group testimonials in one place. I usually have clients put their testimonials on one panel of their brochures. Some even use accompanying photos.

Generally, scattering them decreases the bandwagon effect. If you use a headline to introduce the testimonials, don't use a vacant statement: "What people are saying about Bob Brown & Company. . . ." State a benefit or say something substantial: "More than 2000 smart people like you have joined Bob Brown & Company to create wealth beyond their wildest dreams!"

Choose appropriate and compelling testimonials. Don't use testimonials just to fill space. Use them to give you, your service and opportunity credibility and to lead your prospect to make the decision to act now! Your testimonials should convey enthusiasm and hit all the right buttons. That's why they need to be from people with whom your prospects can readily identify.

Show benefits. Be sure to select testimonials that name a specific benefit gained by using your product or being a distributor for your company. A testimonial saying, "I bought your vitamins and am very happy with them" won't excite anyone enough to buy your vitamins.


Tips For Showcasing Your Testimonials

When you're sending out a prospecting pack, include a separate printed page of your testimonials about the product and opportunity. My promotional material usually includes one full testimonial letter and a page and a half of short two to four line testimonials. If you use a binder of company information for one-on-one presentations, include your testimonials there. If you're dropping off a product order for a customer who's not currently interested in Network Marketing, you can have a sheet that features testimonials about products they haven't tried. Include a full panel of testimonials in any brochures you print, and if you have a web site, post a page of testimonials there, too.


Instead, use testimonials like this one that I received from one of my clients: "Hi Susanna. I mailed out 1000 letters that you wrote for me and got a 13% return! Boy, was I thrilled!" That's a powerful testimonial. I use it regularly in my promotional material because it's very specific and it tells the reader what he got as a result of using my service. That's powerful marketing!

Testimonials will prove especially valuable to those of you using direct mail, print advertising or the internet to build your business, but absolutely any type of marketing or advertising will benefit from testimonials. We all care about what other people think of a business, a person or service, and we're all persuaded to some extent by what others say. So make testimonials a part of your own marketing. As Zig Ziglar says, "If you have enough push, you don't have to worry about the pull."

 

SUSANNA K. HUTCHESON has 30 years of experience in "writing exceedingly successful direct mail for business people who want the finest marketing material." She specializes in writing for Network Marketers. For information about her services, visit her website, www.powerwriting.com, or call (316) 684-0457.

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Reprinted with permission from Upline, Hutcheson Feature - May 1999, 888-UPLINE-1, http://www.upline.com

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