The Online Guide to Business Marketing in the Information Age
More Tips on Using
Whenever a customer sends a letter with positive comments about your company or product, immediately seek permission to use this testimonial in your ads, brochures, direct mail, and other promotions.
The easiest way to do this is to send a "release letter" to the client (along with a photocopy of the testimonial letter, with the passages you want to reprint highlighted in yellow).
Your release letter can follow this basic format:
I always enclose a self-addressed stamped reply envelope plus a second copy of the permission letter (for the recipient's files).
If your customers don't send you letters of praise (and many won't), then you can ask them to give you a testimonial. How? Simply send a letter to clients and customers who are happy with your product or service and ask for their comments. Here's a letter I use (feel free to copy or adapt it):
Note that I am asking for an "opinion" instead of a testimonial, and that I urge Alex to give me criticisms as well as positive comments. In this way, I'm not just asking for a favor, I'm getting information that will help me serve my clients better in the future. Thus, I'm not the only one who profits; we both do.
If you solicit testimonials from your satisfied clients and customers, and you always get permission to use any unsolicited testimonials that people send you, you'll soon build a thick testimonial file. Because you've gotten people to give you a "blanket release" to use their comments any way you choose, you can use these testimonials in any or all of your marketing materials - from ads and sales letters, to brochures and catalogs.
One quick and easy way to use these testimonials is simply to type them up single-spaced and reprint them on an 8½-by-11-inch sheet of paper. The headline reads: "WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT (your company or product)." If you have a lot of testimonials, you can print on the reverse side or go to a second sheet. Don't forget to include your address and phone number at the bottom of the page. Use the testimonial sheet as a handout, as an additional enclosure in direct mail packages, or as a supplement to your sales brochure.
Always give the sheet and a duplicate of your full
testimonial file to any ad agency, copywriter, or marketing consultant you hire. It will
be tremendously helpful to them when they create ads, brochures, and direct mail packages
On Using Testimonials
Using testimonials - quotations from satisfied customers and clients - is one of the simplest and most effective ways of adding punch and power to brochure, ad and direct mail copy.
2. Prefer long testimonials to short ones. Many advertisers
are hooked on using very short testimonials. For instance:
3. Prefer specific, detailed testimonials to general or
superlative testimonials. Upon receiving a letter of praise from a customer, our
initial reaction is to read the letter and find the single sentence that directly praises
our company or our product. With a blue pencil, we extract the words we think are kindest
about us, producing a bland bit of puffery such as:
To increase the believability for your testimonials, attribute each quotation. Include the person's name, city and state, and (if a business customer) their job title and company (e.g., "Jim K. Redding, vice president of manufacturing, Divmet Corporation, Fairfield, NJ"). People are more likely to believe this sort of full disclosure than testimonials which seem to conceal the identity of the speaker.
5. Group your testimonials. There are two basic ways to present testimonials: You can group them together in one area of your brochure or ad, or you can scatter them throughout the copy. A third alternative is to combine the two techniques, having many testimonials in a box or buck slip and a smattering of other testimonials throughout the rest of your copy.
I've seen both approaches work well, and the success of the presentation depends, in part, on the skill of the writer and the specific nature of the piece. But, all else being equal, I prefer the first approach: to group all your testimonials and present them as a single block of copy. This can be done in a box, on a separate page or on a separate sheet. My feeling is that when the prospect reads a half dozen or so testimonials, one right after another, they have more impact and power than when the testimonials are separated and scattered throughout the piece.
6. Get permission. Make sure you get permission from your customer to reprint his words before including his testimonial in your copy.
© Copyright 1998, Robert W. Bly. Reprinted by the kind permission of Bob Bly, Copywriter/Consultant/Seminar Leader, 22 East Quackenbush Avenue, 3rd floor · Dumont, NJ 07628 Phone (201) 385-1220 · Fax (201) 385-1138 email: firstname.lastname@example.org