Hear this truth: Your people love you.
You’re conscientious. You over-deliver. You care about your clients’ success.
You’re a big-hearted entrepreneur with the best of intentions.
And hear this truth: You’re human. You’ll make a mistake here and there.
We all do.
The best part? You get to show up and do this again tomorrow. Hopefully, in a better way.
In a way that inspires and moves your clients forward to their success — whatever that means to them.
The linchpin in all of this is their story. You listening deeply. Taking it in:
And then? Helping them take action on their goals. Whether that’s through the purchase and use of a product, a service or both.
The final piece of their story (once your work together is done): Did you get where you wanted to go?
Asking for — and listening to — their feedback.
This is how you find out what matters. It’s also, incidentally, the way you gather great marketing stories (aka testimonials).
Create a system for gathering feedback
Any time you do something over and over again, it’s best to create a documented system or checklist. That way, you’ll create good habits and see consistent results over time.
Here’s what works best for me. (Every business is different, so please adapt these suggestions to your needs.)
1. Start with an Initial Assessment. Before you ever deliver a product or service, ask your client or customer a few questions about their specific issues. The goal is to establish a base line for where they are mentally, emotionally and otherwise. Once you’ve got this information, you can use it to ensure you over-deliver by getting them where they say they want to go.
Their answers help me better understand where they are now and where they hope to go (with my help). I refer back to them on a regular basis which helps keep me focused on their success.
I also let them know up front that I’ll be checking in regularly with them throughout our working relationship. This sets the expectation up front that part of what’s expected from them will be feedback on how things are going. It’s baked into the work we do together so they’re a lot more likely to respond.
2. Check in regularly. If you’re working with a client long-term, make a pointed effort to gather feedback at least twice per year — every three months if your product or service is fairly new.
To gather this feedback, I write a short email outlining my purpose and then include a link to a feedback form I’ve created specifically for that product or service.
If I’ve made changes to my offer since they’ve purchased (or I plan to), I’ll also use that opportunity to communicate those changes and ask how they feel about them.
3. Wrap-up with a Final Assessment. Closure is a good thing. And as soon as you’ve successfully completed a project or delivered a product to a client, there’s no better time to reach out and ask them how it all went.
At this point, I use a modified version of the Initial Assessment (so that I can compare apples to apples in terms of specific ratings). Here’s the one I use for my Bloggers’ Mastermind groups.
Stay on track with your new system
1. Schedule reminders. I use Google to run most of my business operations, which means I rely on my Google calendar like you wouldn’t believe. When a new client comes on board, one of the things I do is set up calendared tasks at appropriate points (e.g., 3 months from purchase, 6 months, etc.) one of which is to send them requests for feedback.
2. Incorporate suggestions for improvement. Your customers can be the source of some of the best improvements you’ll ever make to your operations. Listen to them. And whether or not you decide to incorporate their suggestions, be sure to respond and let them know you heard them and what (if anything) you’ve got planned.
3. Add testimonials to your website! Within a week of receiving feedback, pull out any golden nuggets you can use as testimonials — the best two or three sentences — and confirm with your client that you can use them publicly. Once you’ve got written permission, add those nuggets to the appropriate page of your website.
Some people put all their testimonials on one page, but they’ll be more effective if you spread them out and place them on specific sales and landing pages. Don’t wait to do this! The longer you wait, the more likely you’ll be to not follow through at all.
Creative ways to flex your feedback muscles (and showcase your awesomeness)
There are a LOT of folks who feel like asking for testimonials — especially the kind that can help prospective clients say Yes, Please — is tantamount to bragging or boasting.
And it’s not hard to see why.
We’re told from the time we’re kids that humility is where it’s at.
That tooting our own horn is bad behavior.
So if you feel a bit awkward when it comes to sharing your greatness, here are a few ideas to play with:
1. Keep a Kudos Folder. When people spontaneously send you an email or post something on social media that makes your heart melt, save it. Not only is this a good place to visit on days when you feel low, but it makes great testimonial fodder, too.
Just a very simple request — Hey, thank you so much for this. Really! Would you mind if I added this as a testimonial on my website? — can move an informal “thank you” to your official marketing materials.
2. Don’t discount the humorous blurbs. You’ve seen them or even been on the receiving end of one or two. Blurbs like this one on Rebecca Tracey’s website (TheUncagedLife.com): “Your stuff is like crack, and I am a junkie.” are sometimes said off-the-cuff on social media. Go ahead and use ’em!
Just the other day, I had a client say, “Tea is the Giles to your Buffy.” Yes, it probably only makes sense to fans of Buffy the Vampire Killer, but many of those are my peeps, so it just makes sense to leverage this kind of unadulterated love.
Want more examples? How about these:
Said to Illana Burk of Makeness Media: “If I were gay, I’d marry you.”
To Karen Jones of The Heart Matters: “On the court of relationships, you are Larry Bird.”
To Sally Anne Giedrys of Whole Life Strategies: “Thank you so much for being such a pain in the ass. We need that.”
Said to Nikole Gipps of That Super Girl: “THE CAPE IS REAL!”
3. Repurpose reviews on other channels. Have folks written recommendations for you on LinkedIn? Reviews on your Facebook page? Tweeted something awesome about you on Twitter? Maybe even touted your book on Amazon? Grab the best ones and add them to your website — either on a general testimonials page, or in a widget on your sidebar. Two WordPress plugins I really like for this are:
Tweetstimonials – displays tweets that you favorite
Testimonial Rotator – displays a different testimonial at regular intervals or every time you refresh the page
4. Utilize recognizable logos of clients. Did you do work for a large company? Someone with a little brand recognition? It doesn’t hurt to let folks know. I’ve got a few at the bottom of my home page under “As seen on…”
5. Turn a lengthy testimonial into a case study. “Sometimes, you get a gem that says it all,” says Dean Rieck (on Copyblogger). And while we usually want to feature shorter testimonials (three to four sentences is ideal), a longer testimonial can easily be turned into a case study type blog post. << — This particular post was inspired by an email that morphed into a recorded interview and eventually a blog post.
Why All of This Matters
Ever been caught speechless when someone asked What is it that you do again? Exactly?
People want — and need — specifics about the positive changes and benefits you’re promising.
You’ve heard me moan about this before: There are loads of vague testimonials out there that say things like: I loved working with her. Or, I’m thrilled with my results. Thank you!
If you’re going to invest hundreds — maybe thousands — of dollars with someone, don’t you want to hear something more quantifiable?
I know I do.
Testimonials that use actual numbers are what we’re after here (see my notes above regarding Intake and Final assessment forms).
Example: I saved 38% on my car insurance by switching to XYZ. Or, for coaches: When I started with XYZ, my confidence level was at zero. Now, I’d rate myself a 10+.
Testimonials that feature numbers are more challenging to get, but much more effective in helping people to decide to hire you.
Benefits that include an emotional component (I was at rock-bottom and couldn’t see a way forward until XYZ helped me find my way) are also highly desirable.
Once you’ve listened to enough people’s stories about how they felt before they came to you, where they said they wanted to go, and how they feel now that they’ve arrived, you’ll have specific information you can use to create the best marketing messages and sales pages. (Not to mention having engaging answers to pesky networking questions.)
It’s Okay to Ask for Help
If your website lacks testimonials right now, and you feel overwhelmed at the thought of tackling such a project, consider asking for help.
A virtual assistant who knows their marketing Ps and Qs is a fabulous option.
Or, you might ask your marketing coach.
What? You don’t have one?
I can help you with that! Click here to schedule a free 20-min strategy session and let’s get you on the right track.
Do you have a tip or a question about gathering feedback and testimonials? Chime in in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.