Do you know why testimonials are so important?
Say, you’re walking down the street and a bus passes with an ad on the side promoting the “best coffee ever,” do you believe it? In all likelihood, you probably instantly think “Pfft. What a load of bull!”
This is one of the biggest problems facing advertisers nowadays. Countless people are so instinctively distrustful of marketing that they dismiss any claims made in ads as exaggerations or outright fabrications. Even if the product is genuinely the “best coffee ever,” the average person probably isn’t going to believe it until they try it themselves.
Ah, but what if the day after you saw that bus ad, you come into work to find a coworker sipping that same brand of coffee. You ask them how it is, and they respond, “Best coffee I’ve ever tried.” Instantly, you’re going to want to try it.
It’s funny how the exact same message can trigger two different responses, depending on the messenger. When you hear from an advertiser that it’s the best coffee, you’re automatically distrustful and on your guard. But when a coworker mentions that it’s the best coffee, that brand will probably be in your own cup the following morning.
Such is the power of third-person testimonials, and it’s something that your small business needs to harness if you’re going to build your customer base and audience.
Why Do We Distrust Advertisements?
Ever hear the phrase, once burned, twice shy?
When it comes to marketing, unscrupulous marketers have essentially lied to the public so often that we’ve developed a real skepticism to whatever a company tells us.
In truth, this is a healthy response. The ironic thing is that this level of distrust has forced most marketers to become truth-tellers rather than spin artists. Many large corporations rely on authenticity in their advertising today to spread their message. But unfortunately for them (and the rest of us trying to run small businesses), the damage has been done.
The problem here is with the messenger. When a company tells us that they have the best coffee, we think, “Well, of course THEY are saying that. They’re the ones making the coffee. They have an incentive to sell it to us.” You instinctively don’t trust them because it’s their product. They’re the stakeholder. And the cynic in us thinks that they would tell us just about anything to sell it.
Whether or not this is true is beside the point. This state of affairs has created an environment where everything said by a marketer, business, or advertiser is under suspect. And if you’re a small business trying to get started, this can hurt your marketing possibilities, even if you’ve invested in a solid online marketing plan.
Why We Trust Third-Parties
Again, it boils down to the messenger.
A third party likely doesn’t have any stake in the sale. Unlike a company trying to sell something, they likely won’t benefit in any way if they recommend a product. When a third party tells you something is worth the money, you believe them because they are simply sharing information with no ulterior motive.
What Makes for an Effective Third-Party Testimonial?
Small businesses can readily harness the power of third-party testimonials by asking their clients for help. A great third-party testimonial should be absent of any kind of “marketing” copy. They should be simple and to the point. They aren’t about selling anything. Instead, they are about sharing an experience.
Ideally, a testimonial on your website should be confirming all of the webcopy and information you put up on it. If you make any claims, the third-party who gives the testimonial should back them up. Let’s take a look at one of mine (not wanting to toot my own horn, but I already have a stack of testimonials right here)!
“I am a pro writer, so I tend to be picky about what gets put on my website. Jennie Lyon is the only person I’ve ever trusted to help me with blog posts and newsletters. With her great writing skill, she makes the entire process seamless. Honestly, I don’t know how she so consistently produces such great work, but I certainly appreciate it!”
- Stephanie B. | Learn Sex Therapy
First of all, wow, thanks Stephanie! Second, this testimonial speaks to my writing ability and trustworthiness.
Let’s say that you run a coaching business. You can go on and on about your theories, skills, training, and programs, but what your potential customer is going to want to know is, does it work. If you have a third-party testimonial that speaks to your ability to connect with your clients and help them achieve their dreams, then you’re all set!
Can Testimonials Hurt You?
Imagine that you’ve spent a ton of time and money completely revamping your website. You have compelling webcopy, some shiny new blogs and other content, and a brand-new graphic design that reflects your business.
Now imagine that a visitor to your new site gets down to the testimonial section and discovers that they are filled with bad grammar, poor readability, and spelling mistakes. Kind of ruins the effect of the site, doesn’t it.
The reality is that the folks who provide your third-party testimonials aren’t likely to be professional writers. This is why you must get them professionally edited to make sure they will have the maximum positive impact.
Now, when I say edited, I am not suggesting changing the message of the testimonial. The absolute last thing you want is literally to put words into someone’s mouth. But you can polish a testimonial up, correct grammar, and move some sentences around to clarify the meaning that they were trying to communicate. If you feel weird about this, we could always send the newly-edited testimonials to the people who wrote them to get their approval. I’d be happy to do that, along with edit them in the first place.
Need Help Getting Started?
A third-party testimonial has an incredible power to reinforce the overall message of your brand and lend you credibility and respect. The logic is that, if someone who has no connection to your business is willing to sing your praises, then there must be something to sing about! You just need to make sure that the testimonials are edited to improve readability and maximize their effectiveness. It’s all a part of building a fantastic website. If you want to figure out which sections of your website are working and which aren’t, I invite you to download my completely free Step-by-Step Website Audit Workbook!
Of course, I could always handle doing the website audit for you, along with anything else you need for your website. Need your webcopy rewritten? I’ve written countless websites. Need new graphics? I’d love to help with some eye-catching designs. Contact me today and we can get started making sure the message of your brand and business comes across, loud and clear!