Testimonials are one of the greatest marketing tools you have. Research tells us that people are a lot more likely to believe what others say about you than what you say about yourself. This is the reason that online shopping sites often have a place for customers to leave reviews about individual products (and why so many shoppers turn to them when making a decision about what to buy.) As a small business owner, you should be asking your loyal and enthusiastic customers for testimonials on a regular basis.

Yet it’s also important to be sure that your testimonials are accurate and ethical. This enables you to comply with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules regarding testimonials and endorsements, and also helps customers to trust you. After all, testimonials that go beyond the facts can damage your credibility, and lead to disappointed customers. And testimonials used in your marketing material that made health, income, or product claims beyond what you’re allowed to say legally can get you and your business into hot water.

So how do you get started using testimonials to promote your business? Here are some tips:

  1. When asking for testimonials, provide testimonial starters such as:
    • What I like best about (Your name/business) because__________________________________.
    • The product/service was great because (it was easy, fast) _______________________________.
    • Working with (Your name/business) was great because it was able to help me__________________.
    • I would recommend (Your name/business) because____________________________________.
  2. Use the complete testimonials whenever possible. This way you ensure that the customer’s intended message cannot be misunderstood.
  3. If you’ve got a parent company, get approval to use the testimonials that address product, income, or health claims. Usually your company has a legal department that can determine whether or not you can legally market your business using the claims in the testimonial. When in doubt, don’t use it!
  4. Use testimonials to overcome inherent objections in your business. If there are certain objections that you hear a lot, use a testimonial provided by a customer to address that concern. Print it in your marketing materials (with the customer’s permission, of course.)
  5. Use testimonials to make a point or promote your message. Rather than just lumping all your testimonials together, use them strategically throughout your marketing materials. For example, if you are talking about how quickly you deliver your products, use a testimonial of a customer raving about the speed of delivery. It’s like the exclamation point on your message.
  6. Asking for testimonials should be part of your sales process. Whenever you complete a transaction, make asking for a testimonial a part of your follow-up process. Once you’ve determined that the customer is satisfied, it’s a good time to say, “Would you be willing to provide me with a testimonial?”

Using testimonials that are accurate and stick to the facts can be a great marketing tool to help you build your business even bigger. How do you use testimonials to promote your business? Where do you put them? How do you ask for them? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.