We all know and appreciate the value of a strong, written testimonial. Yet getting them can be like pulling teeth. Here are some of the tactics I use to mould client praise into a usable written testimonial.
I use testimonials all the time. After word of mouth referrals, a written testimonial is the next best thing.
When I’m writing a proposal or quote, I include testimonials. On my website, newsletters, social media profiles – anywhere I can find – I put them in a written testimonial. And as a copywriter, I encourage my clients to source them for their own websites and other publications.
And I don’t mean a vague, ‘You did a good job’ statement. I mean an endorsement that captures your unique selling proposition: your intrinsic value, style, personality and the quality of your output.
Like many solo operators, however, I will admit I find it tricky to get a written testimonial from every single client. Even so, I keep trying! Here are some of the things I do to source a quality testimonial.
1. Ask EVERY client
At the end of every project or job, I try to remember to ask for a written testimonial. It needs to become a standard practice. Consider a template email that’s ready to go when you send that final invoice.
Or better yet, as soon as you receive positive praise, attack quickly with your request for more detailed feedback.
Make it a habit, not a ‘when I have some spare time’ task.
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2. Make it easy for them
Everyone is busy and for some, writing a testimonial feels like a giant pain.
So make it easy. Tell them what you want. Tell them where you plan to use the testimonial, such as on your website and/or in quotes and proposals. Show them what others have said about your business, product or service.
Let them know that you can also provide a link back to their business.
Frame your request with specifics, such as, ‘I’d love some feedback on the technical advice I gave you on web accessibility – how did my expertise help?’.
That way, you can build a bank of specific testimonials that address aspects of your service offering. Perfect for popping into a quote or tender response.
3. Don’t be tempted to write it for them
As a copywriter, this would be the easiest way to source a glowing testimonial. In fact, I have been asked by clients to write a testimonial about myself so they can just ‘sign off’. To those, I have said, no thanks.
First, there are laws out there to protect customers from dodgy reviews and testimonials.
Second, I really do want genuine feedback. I want to know what aspects of my service offering were most valued. This helps me sell my services to future clients. It helps me understand my business better. It may even help me refine my offering or alter my prices.
And best of all, it gives me a nice little ego boost. (Something we all need every now and then to keep soloing on.)
4. Try a survey
If you’re not sure if the client is really happy with your work – sometimes they just don’t go out of their way to tell you –you can send a survey.
I’ve tried sending a really short survey at the completion of a job, with a section for the client to include a testimonial.
It doesn’t work every time, but it can be a good way to evaluate the project and get some insight into whether you truly met the brief or not.
5. Don’t quit trying!
There will always be clients who prefer not to give a written testimonial.
In particular, I find government clients are less likely to put an endorsement in writing given their need to be seen as fair and transparent with all service providers.
That’s ok. You might be able to ask them to be a referee or connect via LinkedIn instead. Or encourage them to sign up to your newsletter or follow your Facebook page so you stay front of mind in their service provider list. There are other ways to maintain that relationship to help it work in your favour.
And admit it, there are some clients you just wouldn’t want a written testimonial from anyway. Maybe you didn’t gel or the project was ‘messy’. That’s fine too – you only want the best!
Either way, it really doesn’t hurt to ask.