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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Small Business Tip: How To Solicit A Customer Testimonial

Customer testimonials for your small business can be a valuable marketing tool ... if done the right way. But how do you get a customer testimonial that is meaningful?

I've found that politely asking long-term clients for feedback works best. When they let you know how pleased they are with the work, ask them if they would mind if you featured their comments on your website or in a brochure. I've yet to run into a client that said "no". It increases their visibility as well.

If you have clients who indicate that there may be problems with the work your company has performed (and in my experience, there are always some clients who have requests for improvement), you can use that information to perfect your business.

Another way to handle this is to work with 2 or 3 clients for which you've solved a pressing problem (preferably one that was costing them money .... or one for which the solution increased their profit or client list .... or one that benefited their business in some way) to develop their stories into case studies, ending with a short testimonial.

Another longer term strategy is to build in the opportunity for client feedback through all of your systems - at the end of each sale, ask the client how their experience was.

You could also consider other methods of creating credibility in addition to testimonials - for example:

- before and after case studies (with data)
- showing media appearances on your website
- using 3rd party expert endorsements
- using charts and graphs to back up your claims
- show your product/service in action via video / pictures / flow charts etc.

Here's one that's a bit more proactive. Always serve your customers/clients with the objective that you will be soliciting their feedback and assistance in the future. This will allow you to approach them at any time during your relationship with them. If you have a "big win" with them, I've found this to be a great opportunity to ask. It is human nature not to be indebted to anyone...when you do a favor for your client its a great time to cash in on that favor and ask for a testimonial. They will be glad to oblige.

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