“Get someone else to blow your horn — and the sound will carry twice as far.” Will Rogers
Anyone who’s been in marketing for more than a day understands the value of customer testimonials. Better than any other form of proof (logical argument, data, endorsements), they can prove particular claims that the marketer wants to make about his product.
But, like any marketing tool, the strength of a testimonial is greatly related to the effectiveness of its presentation. If you give your customers typical testimonials in a typical way, they will have very little effect because they will neither attract attention nor deliver an emotional message.
But if you can find a way to make the testimonial new — either with the language itself or with the presentation – the effect can be powerful.
When I teach young copywriters the power of proving their claims, I stress the importance of not using testimonials that “sound like” testimonials. When a customer tells you that your product is “far and away the leader in its field” or “the best thing since sliced bread,” you may be thrilled because it sounds like something you might have written yourself. But that’s precisely why you shouldn’t use it.
The best testimonials are those worded in a way that catches your attention, conveys a positive message, and does so with credibility. “Beef so damn tender it almost melts in your mouth!” is a testimonial I’d much rather use than “Succulent and tasty.”
The “damn” arrests my attention, the choice of words is believable, and the effect of using “melts” conveys an immediate benefit. It almost makes the mouth water.
The key to creating powerful, persuasive testimonials is selecting, finding, or creating a language that meets these criteria:
- attracts attention
- conveys a benefit
- achieves credibility
But that’s not all. To make your testimonials do their job, they need to be presented in a format that supports those three objectives. In a sales letter or email, for example, testimonials can be presented as one- or two-sentence quotations that are placed either in the text itself or at the margins.
But if you have a really good testimonial, one that’s distinctive and believable and strongly conveys the chief benefit of your product, you should find a more creative way to present it. You can, for example, turn it into a big bold headline and bolster it with an eye-catching photo of the customer enjoying the benefit.
And nowadays, the best way to achieve both powerful, unique language and a captivating presentation is to create videos of actual customers in their natural environment speaking their own words.
The bottom line is this: Testimonials work well if they are true. And the closer you can get to truth, the stronger your sales message will be. When working with testimonials, ask yourself, “How can I show this customer experience as dramatically and truly as possible?”
You’ll get a much better response.