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Do you pass the testimonial test?

Let’s talk about testimonials.

They’ve been around since the earliest time adverts appeared, offering people a personalised approach to a new product, a better service and a stronger solution to all their problems. In marketing and advertising, they are used as a powerful tool to give credibility to campaigns and give a brand a human voice.

We see them everywhere, across all mediums and platforms. Written in the 1st person or sometimes the 3rd, the message relays a “sincere” voice that is supposed to be credible and often holds more clout than average messages with no person to person dialogue.

In essence, they are supposed to be unbiased. Unfortunately, this statement is a lot more complex. Gender, race, age, and other socio-economic markers play a vital role in a working testimonial. If your product or service is aimed at women aged 45 plus, you have to ensure your testimonial spokesperson is an identical replica of this target market.
But, life is not so cut and dry. Many nuances go into direct targeting. Hairstyle, clothing, body language, design, layout and overall tone can so easily make the difference between a testimonial that is believable to one that is fake.

Today’s consumer is weary, as the internet allowed everyone to finally see all the “truths” they were looking for. People are data-fatigued and when spoken to by an “authentic” person, most consumers are hesitant to believe that it’s not a fake. However, when testimonials appeal to a wide spectrum of values and beliefs and hits all the right marks, the result is generally an increase in awareness and sales, regardless of the product or service being offered.

With social media, we have become a generation of affirmation seekers, but when it comes to testimonials, this is where things get interesting. Look at anyone’s Facebook feed.
You will find likes, hearts, comments, all about that person or service.
These comments are generally read when you want to make an informed decision about someone or a service being offered.

Ratings, as in stars, is another form of testimonial based opinion. When you want to visit a new restaurant, the first thing you will do is read the reviews. This is a powerful tool as it can make or break your decision. The same goes for all social media platforms. We gauge our opinions generally based on what other people think. With LinkedIn, today’s primary business social media tool, testimonials or as they like to call them, “recommendations” are influential in how you are portrayed out there.

Recruiters, business people and consumers, will go straight to your LinkedIn profile and read what other people think of you or visit your website to see if anyone has left comments that allow them to make a more informed decision. This is not so far from traditional testimonials, but the major difference is, these recommendations or opinions, are free. No one paid for someone to leave a positive comment, or is this entirely true?

There are some recommendations, especially on the two major operating systems’ App stores that have fake positive reviews, swaying and enticing you to believe what is said.
The same is relevant for fake negative comments to sway someone away from your business or brand and point them towards your main competition. As long as you have a discerning eye and read between the lines when something is too good or too bad to believe, you’ll make the right call for yourself.

What’s vital to understand, as a business, you need to think holistically. It’s not only the testimonials that make for decision making, it’s your web page, design, logo, tone and overall style that all need to work synergistically for someone to want to make a recommendation that works for you. Your offering needs to entice and be simple to understand so that there are no doubts as to what you are offering. It’s like the pieces of a puzzle, each one needs the next piece to make the bigger picture.

I encourage you to do your research before you leave a comment that could negatively impact someone’s livelihood. If you think a service is too expensive, spend some time looking around to get price comparisons. If you’re happy with a product or service, leave a comment immediately as this helps the business see that they are on the right track as positive affirmation in today’s unpredictable environment goes a long way.

Remember, once something is “live” on social media, it’s there for good. So, think before you type.

Here’s a great tip: “Google My Business Reviews” is a great time-saving alternative to request reviews from your clients. It allows you to send them a direct link to your review page and makes the entire process so much easier for them. Check out this post for more info on how to send a direct link to your Google review page.

Another great way to generate testimonials is through LinkedIn, as it lets you request recommendations from people within your network. If you’re a “technophobe”, you can do it the “old fashioned way” – send an email to clients requesting feedback. Just make sure you include a link to a feedback form on your website.

The more you learn about how to increase your visibility and get vital testimonials that will greatly improve your business, you’ll have a strong presence out there that can be shared organically.

The takeout is; We need to respect the power that testimonials/recommendations have.
We need to encourage all our clients to share their reviews about us, and we need to do the same. Even if there are negative testimonials, you will learn what not to do in the future.
Honour this process as an excellent way to get new business and retain current clients. Always opt for open and honest dialogue, as like testimonials in their traditional form, this will be seen as sincere.

Never be scared of putting yourself out there, after all, if you cannot be seen, you can’t be found.

Please feel free to ask me anytime for help on maximising your business by adding positive reviews and updating your website with the right testimonials that can only work in your favour. Now, this is the true litmus test of growing one’s business.

Sherissa | Web Designer

Wordpress web designer, mom, wife, documentary photographer, compulsive researcher, rock-climber, table tennis enthusiast