Testimonials. We all know we’re supposed to ask for them. We all know we’re supposed to have them on our website.
Maybe you already have a handful of testimonials just sitting on your site and you assume they’re doing the job. However, it’s very likely they’re not doing their job because of the way they’re written and the way they’re presented.
In this first official episode of The Business (R)evolution podcast, I share the features of an effective testimonial, how to get your clients to provide an effective testimonial (hint: it’s a lot easier than you might think), and ways for you to share and present your testimonials so that your leads see them and are moved enough by them to reach out and talk with you about your services.
In this episode of the Business (R)Evolution Podcast:
- Why the awkward process you’re currently using to get testimonials isn’t effective
- An example of a testimonial that seems great at first, but likely won’t be effective
- What your prospective clients actually want to see in a testimonial
- An example from my own testimonials of what an effective one looks like
- How I personally get testimonials from my clients
- Five questions you can ask your clients to get an effective testimonial from them
- How testimonials should be structured on your website
- Some tips for getting/using video testimonials
- Where you should be sharing your testimonials
Resources and links Joanna mentions in this episode:
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Full episode transcript
We all know we’re supposed to ask for them. We all know we’re supposed to have them on our website, or on those review sites.
And maybe you already got a handful of testimonials from clients, a while back, that are on your website – and they just sit there, and you hope they’re doing their job.
Well, it’s very likely that they are not doing their job – because of the way they’re written, and the way they’re presented.
So, in this episode I’m going to be teaching you about
- The features of an effective testimonial – a new model for testimonials that actually compel prospective clients to reach out to you and ask about working with you.
- I’m going to teach you how to get your clients to provide effective testimonials, using this new model (which is a lot easier than you might think)
- And I’m going to explain the ways for you to share and present your testimonials so that more of your leads SEE them, READ them, and are moved by them – hopefully so moved that they reach out to talk with you.
Ready to dive in…
You know how getting testimonials usually goes…
You had a great client, they’re wrapping up their time with you, you know they liked you, they experienced success in their work with you…so you ask them: would you be willing to provide a testimonial for me?
We often feel kind of awkward doing that, because it’s an ask. The way we usually ask for testimonials is one-sided…we are asking our client to give us something.
That’s the energy behind testimonials usually. And then our client, who loves us, so they say yes, has this burden on them. They want to help us, that’s why they said yes, and now they feel like they have to come up with something that shows how great you are.
Sometimes they never get back to you with the testimonial or take a long time, and it feels even more awkward to remind them, because you’re asking them to take the time out for their day and put their energy into doing you a favor.
And then the real problem: when you do get the actual written testimonials, they praise you left and right. I call these ‘Praise the Practitioner’ testimonials.
Here’s an example of one:
“Meghan listens very carefully and is not judgmental. She has a vast toolbox to choose from and gives you individualized suggestions and advice. She’s also a humble person and shares her own struggles. Meghan is great, and anyone considering working with her should go for it!”
Ok, this client thinks Meghan is great, got it! Maybe it seems like that’s what testimonials are supposed to do – say how great you are!
But Praise the Practitioner testimonials don’t actually do anything to move the needle forward for prospective clients that are checking you out and deciding whether they want to work with you.
Your leads and prospects already know that anyone that provided you a testimonial thinks you’re great. The very fact that they’ve provided the testimonial already communicates it.
So what DO we want the testimonials to communicate, to say, to express, to do?
Your prospective clients, checking you out, want to see the RESULTS of your work! What are the results that your clients have experienced from working with you?
And just as important, is including where the client started. What was their situation before they started working with you, and what are the results they achieved from working with you?
So instead of praising the practitioner, what we actually want in our testimonials is for the client to share their own before and after story.
We want CLIENT STORIES. You want your clients to share THEIR stories about THEMSELVES.
Instead of seeing your name over and over in the testimonial, you should see “I” in the testimonial, over and over. It should be the client writing from their 1st person perspective about their experience.
Here’s an actual example from my own testimonials:
“My business before the Business (R)Evolution Academy on the outside looked really good. But even though I was booked out weeks in advance, I still had no money. And I just couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong.
The results for me have been nothing short of amazing. I’m working with less clients, but the work is more fulfilling, and I’m making more money. Now I’ve got a roadmap for how to do things financially that I never thought were going to be possible. Things like retirement savings. Things like going on vacation.”
Here’s another one:
“Before I started working with Joanna I was working by the hour. And every time I started a session with a client I felt compelled to provide enough “wow” and “aha” and “oh I feel better” so that by the end of that session they would book the next one. So I felt like I was constantly repeating myself in terms of always trying to make a sale with every session.
Once the whole structure changed such that the clients were buying into more long-term care, I could do each treatment with the end goal in mind – not with what they showed up with that day.
And that that alone made my work so much more fulfilling. My favorite work that I’ve ever found could be that much better because now I could work exactly how I was meant to work and the results for the clients were that much better – so I’m really just kind of blown away.”
Can you hear what a difference there is between these and the praise-the-practitioner testimonial I read before? And that was a real testimonial for a practitioner, by the way.
When you hear the before-and-after client stories, you start to put yourself in their shoes…when you hear their results, it’s exciting – and you might want those results for yourself! And here’s someone sharing that it’s possible!
That’s what makes these powerful. Your testimonials, when done right, can be a powerful and effective marketing tool.
It is not unusual for me to get a new client because of one powerful testimonial that I shared with them.
Praise the Practitioner testimonials don’t do that. They don’t invite your prospective client to imagine the results they could get. They don’t inspire your prospective client to see what’s possible for them to achieve with your help.
Before and after client stories DO.
So how do we get our clients to write before-and-after client stories rather than praise the practitioner testimonials?
Well guess what? It’s actually way easier than the old way of asking for testimonials. The energy of it is totally different…
So, here’s what I do:
First of all, I don’t wait until a client is done working with me to ask for a testimonial.
I ask them to share their story whenever there’s a milestone they’ve met, or a win they’ve achieved that they’re excited about, or they’re just basically doing really well now, and things are rolling along positively.
That’s when I’ll reach out and say, “Congratulations on this win” or “I’m so excited about the progress you’ve made” and “I think other people would be really inspired to learn about how you did this, how you got here and how it feels…would you be willing to share your story?”
You feel how different that already is? Even just the ask – it’s not one-sided anymore. You’re not asking them for a favor. You’re sharing your excitement about their results and asking them to share their excitement about it with others – in order to inspire them. You’re proud of their results, they’re proud of their results, and together you’re going to share that with the larger world.
And to make it easy for them to share their story, you just need to provide them some simple questions to answer.
- What was going on with you before you started working with me? What was that like for you and how did it feel?
- How are things different for you now? How does that feel?
- What has been your biggest win or breakthrough from doing this work?
- What would say to someone else that is in the same position as you were before you started working with me?
- Anything else you want to share?
Some of your clients will send you back perfectly written and organized pieces that are ready to post and publish.
Some will just answer the questions directly, almost like a school assignment – and you’ll need to organize their answers into a narrative.
No matter what, you should know and understand that you don’t need to publish everything they write.
YOU get to pick and choose what to include and what to omit.
You can even change the sequence of what they’ve said, if it helps craft their story into a clearer narrative.
You can’t change their words, but you can move sentences around. When I do that, I send the final version that I want to publish back to the client for their review. I show them how I omitted some sentences and moved some around – and I get their approval to publish that.
Now let’s talk about how to share and present your testimonials.
Testimonials are useless if no one reads them, so you need to present them visually in a way that makes them easy to read.
Every testimonial should have a headline to it – a powerful quote from the testimonial that serves as a hook. If someone is skimming and scanning, the headline is what they’ll look at to decide whether they want to actually go in and read the whole thing.
You also want to have a photo – I see this missing from a lot of testimonials, and I encourage you to ask for a photo of your client. If they’ve already given their name and agreed to be published, getting a photo is just a simple additional ask.
Having a photo really helps visually.
You also want to have not just their name, but some kind of description of who they are. Let me explain that…when your prospective clients are checking you out, and checking out the results you’ve provided your clients, what are they really wondering….can this work for ME?
And so consciously or subconsciously, they’re looking for people in your testimonials, that are like them.
So give them an easy way to identify the clients that are like them. In my business, I have the name of the client, and what their basic field is. So, it will say, “Bodyworker” or “Occupational Therapist” or “Acupuncturist” or something that shows what kind of practitioner they are.
That’s so that YOU can go skim and scan through my client stories and identify who’s most like you in terms of their work, who interests you most, to read or watch their story.
Your description next to the name needs to be related to what you do and who your market is. So, listing their profession may be relevant to your service and may be totally irrelevant. You choose the identifying information that fits your business.
So now you have a headline, a photo and single-line description of the person providing the testimonial.
For the testimonial itself, you need to:
- Break up text into short paragraphs.
- You can break a single sentence out into its own paragraph if it’s a powerful and impactful statement
- Use the bold feature to highlight important phrases – just don’t do it too much
If a testimonial is long, you want to do all these things to make it easy to read.
You can, of course, also get video testimonials!
These take a bit more effort, but they can provide a different way for your prospects to learn more about how you can help them.
If you want to use video, be thoughtful and strategic about which clients you invite to share their story via video.
Are they comfortable with video? Do they have experience being on camera?
Some people are just going to be really awkward when they’re on camera. I’ve actually recorded video interviewing clients – and I’ve asked clients to record video on their own – and in both situations ended up with video that I wasn’t willing to publish because was uncomfortably awkward.
So you have to figure that out ahead of time whether this person is going to be right for video.
The cool thing is that these days you can make a great testimonial video with just your phone. You can record, edit and publish it all with your phone.
And you should think of yourself as the director of the video. If the client is recording their own video testimonial, tell them where to set up their phone or laptop, what background to have, the lighting, etc.
I think video takes more thought and planning.
Just like a written testimonial, you should edit it. Cut places that don’t contribute powerfully to the narrative.
If you do collect a client story via video, that’s great! That gives you some variety in your client stories – AND you can repurpose the video into writing!
You can have it transcribed and create a written testimonial out of it too, or at the very least pull great quotes from it and use them in different places in your marketing.
Ok, so now you have some testimonials that are client stories. You have a headline, and photo, a description of the person providing the testimonial.
You’ve broken up text into short paragraphs, even single sentence paragraphs
You’ve used the bold feature to highlight important phrases
And now you might even have some video testimonials mixed up in there.
You can call the testimonials page whatever you want, whatever vibe you want to give.
Mine is Client Stories, that’s the name of the page in the menu
You can call yours:
- Success Stories
- What My Clients are Saying
- Client Results
And of course, you simply call it “Testimonials”
Whatever fits your vibe.
And if you want to see how I’ve presented my client stories through both writing and video, just go to JoannaSapir.com/SuccessStories.
But your testimonials page on your website is not the only place to share your client stories!
You can share them in emails to your list if you have a list – we’ll talk a lot more about building and nurturing an email list on future episodes….
You can put powerful client quotes in the signature of your email…
And you can share client stories on social media!
Also, your testimonials page isn’t the only place on your website to put your testimonials!
You can pull powerful quotes from client stories and put them in OTHER places on your website!
For example, if you currently have ‘praise the practitioner’ testimonials, what if you put some of those on your About page, since they’re about you?
What if you pulled some powerful quotes that share client experiences and put them on your home page, as evidence of the impact of the promise you’re making in your headline?
Again, you can see this in action on my website.
When you click on the ‘Schedule a Discovery Call’ link on my website, you get to a page that explains the discovery call process…and there you’ll see testimonials that are specifically about the discovery call itself.
To recap this episode, I talked about:
- What’s wrong with the traditional ‘praise the practitioner’ testimonials
- Gave you a framework for the new model for testimonials – Client Before and After stories
- Provided some simple questions to ask to get good client stories
- Showed you how to share and present your testimonials so that more of your leads SEE them, READ them, and are moved by them – hopefully so moved that they reach out to schedule a call with you.
After all, that’s what we want.
You want your testimonials to really speak to your prospects and get them excited and hopeful about what’s possible for their future – and then book a call with you to get your help achieving that.
That’s what happens when you collect and publish great before and after client stories.