Most testimonials suck. How to get — or give — one of value

Client TestimonialsOk, you may not have been expecting the word suck from me, but I’m a potty mouth from way back. You don’t spend your formative years as the only girl in kitchens with cooks and criminals alike and not learn to swear like, well, a cook. (You know that kitchens are heavens for the hell-bound, right?)

Try as I might, less direct subject lines bored me and had no rhythm.

Here’s a bit of trivia on that sucketh word. According the Urban Dictionary, the word “suck” has its roots in the jazz world. Early Jazz musicians would say that a guy could really “Blow” if he had a good sound when playing the horn. If he couldn’t play very well they would say that he was “Sucking” on that horn.

“He doesn’t blow, he sucks.”

Takes the sting out of it, don’t ya think?

Back to the problem at hand; most testimonials are lame, often hyperbolic blah blah. “Kerry is so awesome and I would work with her for eternity if I could.”

While that might seem like a great bit of social proof for your website, it doesn’t help the potential client or buyer see themselves or the transformation possible from working with you.

Raves are great, real-life results are better.

Testimonials are meant to be sales support and confidence builders.

These are actual testimonials taken from businesses offering business or life coaching. See if they make you feel connected or interested in working with the person. Oh, for those of you who know my squid analogy, these are classic squid-like compositions.

She is different than I am, and I believe this has been very helpful. In the past, I always chose to surround myself with personalities and view points similar to mine. She makes me look at things in a new way, adapting both my personality and lifestyle.”

“More importantly, he taught me to apply a “value-based” lens to all of my confidence. Thanks XXX, you changed my life! “ 

“The personal and business benefits gained from coaching with XX were invaluable. The techniques she introduced me to helped me reach sound conclusions on issues I was dealing with. There was no real requirement to understand the type of business I run, more the way I run it or want to run it, therefore our time was maximized in dealing with the key objectives I wanted to improve on or problems I encountered where I needed a voice of reason to help see the way forward.”

Help me out if you have any idea what that means….

The one just above that would be serviceable if the person said HOW the coach changed their life. What was life like before and how is it different now?

Asking people who loved working with you or your product to write a testimonial is asking them to do work.

Writing, for most people, is a CHORE. They want to be nice and oblige your request but when they sit down to write they don’t know where to begin.

So they don’t. Or they do, and you get things like the above.

Compare those with these. Do these do a better job of giving you something that might have you consider working with them?

 “XX is masterful at filling and leading live events and helped us bring in over 100 potential clients into our event, resulting in over $300,000 in sales.”

“Upon completing XX’s program, I earned $42k at one of my first self hosted introductory evening events using the XXX structure.”

“Let me be blunt: You’d be a fool not to hire XX to write your copy. I’m obnoxiously picky and yet EVERY time XX blows me away with what he delivers. The end result: more sales and a lingering sense of gratitude from my audience over a sales campaign.”

Sales are tangible outcomes each of those testimonials testifies to. The last one, for the copywriter, includes a mandate to hire the guy. Did you notice there isn’t an “awesome” or vague bit of jargon anywhere? No hyperbole. No blah blah.

Here are the specifics you want from an enthusiastic client or patron who wants to sing your praises.

Where were you in your life/business/body when you decided to get in touch with me, or say “yes” to my offer? What was the tipping point?

  1. What specifically were you experiencing problem/pain wise?
  2. Where are you now? What are some specific results of our working together?
  3. Was anything unexpected?
  4. What has had the biggest impact?

You will get more than you need, but since this will be results-driven, you won’t mind taking on the CHORE of writing, right?

Let’s do one together.

You are a weight loss coach. You helped me finally lose the 30 peri-menopausal pounds I’d gained slowly over 2 years. My answers to those 3 questions are:

“The day after I sobbed myself to sleep AGAIN because nothing was working I read one of your emails that offered a free call with you, remember? I was so tired all the time and sick and tired that nothing fit, I felt unattractive — I was pretty hopeless. I had to do something. Month one, 8 pounds lost. The first pounds I’d lost in years! After 3 months I was down 20 pounds and I felt great.

Today, 6 months later, I am no longer tired, bought all new clothes, feel great and the best part? With my new confidence I applied for a new position in my company and I got it! This means so much to me and my family.”

Now let’s craft this puppy.

“When I agreed to work with XX, I was fat, tired all the time, and tired of crying myself to sleep, I was hopeless. Today, six months since we started I’ve lost 30 pounds, 5 more than I’d planned, have all day energy, and the most surprising thing? With new found confidence, I asked for a promotion and raise, and I got it!”

Can you see how that might move someone closer to trusting you to get their problem solved? And can you see how to shorten the story the client provided?

When promoting a specific product or service and you are shy specific testimonials for that thing, use the above questions but ask them focus on that.

Let’s say I was going to promote a message class (hint, hint, it’s coming.) I would call the people who I’ve worked with on message or story and ask them, “As it relates to the work we did together on X, what was going on in your business when you decided you needed help? Etc.”

That weight loss coach might be slanting her weight loss program to people she knows have joint pain so she’d want to get a testimonial from someone who she knows is now pain-free from working on her food program or weight loss.

As I said earlier, testimonials are meant to help with sales and moving the needle on the know, like, and trust factor. Make sure yours are results-rich and meaningless words-poor. When someone wants to blow our horns for us, we must make sure it does not suck. 

Write a comment