Home – New Forums Marketing mastery Why testimonials sucks

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 20 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #969811
    altima
    Member
    • Total posts: 131
    Up
    0
    ::

    Checking testimonials is a common way to evaluate the product or service you consider to purchase. What could be better than hear a feedback from people who already use it?

    Unfortunately, testimonials are not as reliable as we may think and I will explain why below. Full article is published in my blog

    Let’s go back in 1950ths. That time couple young scientists (Elliot Aronson and Judson Mills) conducted an interesting study in the Stanford University. Studends were asked to pass two kind of addmission tests to join some club, then they evaluate the quality of discussion (listen the record) from one of that club’s meeting.

    The results were pretty interesting: the students who experienced a mild initiation evaluated the discussion as it was – dump and purposeless and the speakers as wearing and unwise. In contrast, the group that passed a hard admission test had found the record interesting and exciting, discussants – intelligent and attractive. Similar experiments were conducted several times with the same results. Why the same object had so different evaluation?

    The answer is related with two concepts: cognitive dissonance and confirmatory bias. When a person agree to go through a big pain, or do something hard to get a desired object, it means that the initial evaluation of that object was quite positive. Every investment to the object increases it price in the person’s mind. When the person finally gets the object he/she tends to notice only the information that supports that pre-defined expectations and miss all that dis-confirms them. Such a feature of a human mind is called “confirmatory bias”. What happens when the person obtain a contradicting piece of information about the object? If the fact is against our evaluation of the object, we need either to change our evaluation or do something with that fact. Such situation, when there are two exclusive theory in the mind is called a cognitive dissonance and people do not like to live with it. For the human’s brain it’s easier to skip the fact or change it’s interpretation, because otherwise we have to accept that we made a mistake with our evaluation and the higher was the evaluation, the harder to admit that it was wrong. So most of us will adjust a perceived reality to make it suits our expectations.

    Though, how all this is related with the testimonials? If one purchased something, especially an expensive product or service, there is a very high probability that he/she will notice only information, confirming that the purchase decision was very correct and finally completely convince himself in it, even if the buying is not so good. That believe will becomes very sincere and put deep roots in his mind, so he will honestly give a product/service a great testimonial, that in fact is not deserved.

    Hence, do not rely on testimonials so much, people who already made a purchase rarely provide an unbiased feedback. I don’t say that testimonials completely useless, if the product is a complete crap, probably people have to adjust their evaluations, but in many cases, especially if we talk about premium brands, better to hear somebody else, maybe people who are just considering a purchase.

    P.S.: This article appeared after I started to attend Managerial Judgement course (as a part of my MBA in Melbourne Business School), so I want to thank my professor Jill Klain who bring that cognitive dissonance application in business to my attention.

    #1041013
    DavidM
    Member
    • Total posts: 329
    Up
    0
    ::

    Interesting insight. I commented on your blog.

    #1041014
    Eca IT business systems
    Member
    • Total posts: 17
    Up
    0
    ::

    i agree. Also in my opinon there is nothing worse than reading dated testimonials from 1+years ago, doesn’t matter if it was the little corner shop or some BIG corporation.

    #1041015
    JohnSheppard
    Member
    • Total posts: 940
    Up
    0
    ::

    lol. If I understand correctly you mean to say that testimonials don’t help the customer?

    While you get no arguement from me, I think you misunderstand the purpose of testimonials :)

    Most people are in business to sell things….testimonials sell things….if you’re a money driven sales person on commission that’s all that really matters. Forgive my cynicism, but absolute truth went out of the the sales process a long long time ago :)

    Testomonials work because the vast majority of people don’t think beyond, “Jimbo says this is great, I want what he’s got” and are also more inclined to believe what other people tell them, even if they don’t know them.

    #1041016
    altima
    Member
    • Total posts: 131
    Up
    0
    ::
    JohnSheppard, post: 49530 wrote:
    lol. If I understand correctly you mean to say that testimonials don’t help the customer?

    While you get no arguement from me, I think you misunderstand the purpose of testimonials :)

    Most people are in business to sell things….testimonials sell things….if you’re a money driven sales person on commission that’s all that really matters. Forgive my cynicism, but absolute truth went out of the the sales process a long long time ago :)

    Testomonials work because the vast majority of people don’t think beyond, “Jimbo says this is great, I want what he’s got” and are also more inclined to believe what other people tell them, even if they don’t know them.

    The article was written from the buyer outlook. All we buy something from time to time, not only sell.

    I would not argue that testimonials may help companies to sell, so to use them in your own selling pitch or not is another issue. Probably, since many people still believe in them it makes sense.

    #1041017
    bridiej
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,097
    Up
    0
    ::

    I guess it depends in which way you view them.

    I have testimonials on my website, not so much to say how fantastic I am but more to show potential clients that I am a real business, I’ve been in business for a number of years and I work with clients in their profession.

    Most of my testimonials include the name and company details of the person who supplied it, so I guess if a client was that way inclined they could look up the contact details and check it all out.

    #1041018
    JohnSheppard
    Member
    • Total posts: 940
    Up
    0
    ::
    altima, post: 49532 wrote:
    The article was written from the buyer outlook. All we buy something from time to time, not only sell.

    I would not argue that testimonials may help companies to sell, so to use them in your own selling pitch or not is another issue. Probably, since many people still believe in them it makes sense.

    :) heh yeah I know, I guess it’s just an anomaly to come across someone who thinks about things other than their business image here, so I thought I’d make the comment. I also dislike the way out society is. It’s easy to look at other cultures and go…woah, those dudes are messed up….but when you look at ours…we’re not exactly helping each other are we? Most people seem to be ok with it.

    #1041019
    altima
    Member
    • Total posts: 131
    Up
    0
    ::
    JohnSheppard, post: 49540 wrote:
    :) heh yeah I know, I guess it’s just an anomaly to come across someone who thinks about things other than their business image here, so I thought I’d make the comment. I also dislike the way out society is. It’s easy to look at other cultures and go…woah, those dudes are messed up….but when you look at ours…we’re not exactly helping each other are we? Most people seem to be ok with it.

    Well, maybe some people after reading this article will make better buying decisions :)
    As for me personally, I had not trusted testimonials so much even earlier, but mainly because suspected that they are often fake. Appeared, that even genuine testimonials are not very useful.

    #1041020
    JohnSheppard
    Member
    • Total posts: 940
    Up
    0
    ::
    altima, post: 49575 wrote:
    Well, maybe some people after reading this article will make better buying decisions :)

    haha. :)

    Well, I think the best people to educate on their moral responsibility is sales people. However maybe that is just as futile :)

    altima, post: 49575 wrote:
    As for me personally, I had not trusted testimonials so much even earlier, but mainly because suspected that they are often fake. Appeared, that even genuine testimonials are not very useful.

    Hmm, myself, I don’t think many reputable companies would fake them.

    Everyone’s different. Humans are the way they are, the large majority are not born with analytical minds, nor to be independent. Sales is just a numbers game. As your original post says in not so many words….”they work” :)

    My main gripe with sales techniques of some varieties is that one sided stories are generally presented as whole truth (by taking advantage of assumed social contracts). Displaying positive in the absense of negative testimonials is usually one of those techniques.

    I don’t understand how one could call themselves honest by doing such things, yet this practice is actively accepted and promoted by many people.

    Nothing is black and white…

    However, I will shut up now as I am taking it off topic :)

    #1041021
    altima
    Member
    • Total posts: 131
    Up
    0
    ::
    JohnSheppard, post: 49578 wrote:
    haha. :)

    Well, I think the best people to educate on their moral responsibility is sales people. However maybe that is just as futile :)

    :) true, so as buyers we have to be better educated

    Also, off-topic, John, but I like your signature about Lemon market.
    That’s another interesting effect showing, how strange a market economy can be

    #1041022
    sixx
    Member
    • Total posts: 333
    Up
    0
    ::
    JohnSheppard, post: 49578 wrote:
    However, I will shut up now as I am taking it off topic :)

    Nah, I don’t think you are heading off topic, you just have a thought provoking way with words (and it makes alot of sense) which I thought was the thread subject.

    Even the thinly veiled self-written-testimony “About Us” page is probably one of the most disproportionate pages on any given site. All one way traffic, never a mention of projects that took several attempts, ran over budget, client pulled out etc.
    Portfolio page? we read in the “About Us” that hundreds of satisfied cutomers later …. yet only a handful of projects on display. Are we to assume the majority go bottoms up?

    So why bother?

    Because it works. :))

    #1041023
    abacus
    Member
    • Total posts: 174
    Up
    0
    ::

    As a buyer, I treat written ( website) testimonials with a grain of salt and rarely read them. To me thay are like references in CV’s no-one is going to write a bad reference or testimonial :)

    If I am looking to buy a big ticket item. I generally go with brands I have either bought before or with one’s that close friends and family have.

    Case Study: Friend needed to buy a new washing machine..she asked around and had pretty well decided on Brand A (that many of us have had for years with no problems)..In the course of her decision she asked a repair man what he thought. “hey mr repair man who MAKES A LIVING out of fixing broken manchines, what is the best one to buy…which one’s DON’t you have to work on??…all my friends are recomending A. answer “Oh noooo don’t buy brand A..they are just a rebranded X and have not good parts etc etc etc…buy Brand B (eurpean) they are great, hardly ever see one, parts readily available here in this town etc etc.”
    So she goes with the “expert” and guess what months later MAJOR problems (out of warranty of course)
    Gee says mr repair man grinning from ear to ear at the juicy bill you have been unlucky.

    On his website he has glowing testamonials about how great his service is, quick, easily available parts etc etc etc. hmmmm wonder why? (but hey I am the queen of cynics :) )

    So, word of mouth is still the best form of testimonial. Try to create word of mouth by havng a refferral programme in place.
    At Abacus Screens I send a thank you card out to every client about a week after completion(and payment) of the job. The card itself is NOT branded in anyway apart from being green which matches our brand. It simply says Thank you and has 6 “referral cards” to pass on to friends. When a referral card comes back to us and we get a job out of it, the original customer gets sent another card and a scratchie ticket.
    here is the card
    http://www.abacusscreens.com.au/marketing/thank%20you.pdf

    #1041024
    danmac30
    Member
    • Total posts: 25
    Up
    0
    ::

    Re: Why testimonials sucks, hey customers now control the conversation!

    While there is some debate on the authenticity of testimonials the truth is most customers look on line for advice prior to purchase. There are so many forums for customers to leave reviews and see what others are saying about you, so if they want to find out, they can.

    I think what is better than a testimonial is a case study or as I call them a success story. This has the challenge – what was the problem, the solution – what was done and the result – what was the effect. I think this is helpful because it gives the customer an example of how a service/product works.

    The most important element from my point of view is to join the customers conversation because believe me they are looking, searching and collecting information prior to purchase, with or without your information. Where ever your customers are you should be there, joining their conversation. Monitoring what is said about you and trying to service your customers in the best way possible.

    #1041025
    DavidM
    Member
    • Total posts: 329
    Up
    0
    ::
    JohnSheppard, post: 49578 wrote:
    My main gripe with sales techniques of some varieties is that one sided stories are generally presented as whole truth (by taking advantage of assumed social contracts). Displaying positive in the absense of negative testimonials is usually one of those techniques.

    The US Federal Commission worked to clean this up about a year ago, to try and bring a more level playing field. See excerpt below.

    Federal Trade Commission wrote:
    Oct 2009: Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect. In contrast to the 1980 version of the Guides – which allowed advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as “results not typical” – the revised Guides no longer contain this safe harbor.
    #1041026
    JohnSheppard
    Member
    • Total posts: 940
    Up
    0
    ::
    sixx, post: 49581 wrote:
    Nah, I don’t think you are heading off topic, you just have a thought provoking way with words (and it makes alot of sense) which I thought was the thread subject.

    Even the thinly veiled self-written-testimony “About Us” page is probably one of the most disproportionate pages on any given site. All one way traffic, never a mention of projects that took several attempts, ran over budget, client pulled out etc.
    Portfolio page? we read in the “About Us” that hundreds of satisfied cutomers later …. yet only a handful of projects on display. Are we to assume the majority go bottoms up?

    So why bother?

    Because it works. :))

    haha, yeah, the irony is that if I was hiring someone to do something, I’d want them to have screwed up before and learned from it. At least that way it’ll have been someone elses instead of mine. :)

    People that know stuff have screwed up lots. In fact I daresay those who have screwed up the most know the most.

    I still wouldn’t buy from some dude that wrote it on his website tho :) haha…

    DavidM, post: 49606 wrote:
    The US Federal Commission worked to clean this up about a year ago, to try and bring a more level playing field. See excerpt below.

    Good to see someones thinking about things! I think to a certain extent it is a cultural problem that extends fairly deep. Western culture swings too much responsibility onto the individual, sure, society advances but the individual suffers. Brilliant! :)

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 20 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.