Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life examples of the good, the bad, and sometimes wild, in marketing.

Hey friends, today, I bring you true confessions about testimonials by Julia Block Pearson.  I have a confession about a testimonial and this came up with a client just this past week. We were talking about how to get testimonials for their website. 

They haven’t launched their product yet. They’re in the testing phase. And so I encouraged them, since they’re in the testing phase, to get testimonials from their beta testers. These are people who will be able to have experience with the product and say what they loved about it. And then they can use those as testimonials. This person was not sure about that.

So then I said, “Well, let me tell you this story.” And here’s my confession: 

A few years ago, I wanted to start dog sitting and I was using a platform called Rover.com. This is while I was living in Madison on my own. But before they would approve your profile, you needed a testimonial. And granted, I’ve grown up with dogs and I love dogs, but I had never actually dog sat for dogs before.

So I asked my sister to write a testimonial for me about how well I cared for our family dog and she wrote one! The website – they used first names, so nobody knew that Laura was my sister, but she wrote a beautiful, beautiful testimonial about how I took care of our family dog. Nobody knew that it was my sister. Nobody knew it was our family dog. And because of this testimonial, I was allowed to start dog sitting. 

So a pretty innocent, true confession. But at the same time, what happens when you’re launching a product or a service and you don’t have testimonials? Testimonials are a really, really great way to show that you have authority and that people trust you to deliver your service or your product and that they trust that your product is going to deliver what you’ve said it’s going to deliver. 

So, that’s one way. If you want to source semi-anonymous family testimonials, you go for it. But in all reality, if you are serving up a product or a service and your people have had experience, like your community has had experience, even if it’s unpaid experience, ask them to write a quick testimonial. Really, you can eventually replace them with client testimony, but it’ll help give credence to your product or service. 

So that’s the answer to one of the biggest testimonial questions I get: what happens if I don’t have clients yet? Where should I get testimonials? From testers, family, friends who’ve experienced you in that realm — that is a really good way to start

The second question that I get asked is: what should a testimonial say? Like how do you get people to say what you want them to say in your testimonial? 

Obviously, we don’t want to manipulate people, but when my clients have a hard time writing a testimonial, I’ll often ask them, “Well, would you like me to write it for you?” and have them approve it. So I’ll write it out, have them approve it. Sometimes they’ll tweak it. They’ll just use my words as a basis for it. And other times they’ll just say, “Hey, this is good to go.” As long as you get approval from them to use it as a testimonial, if you’ve written it, that is totally fine 

In terms of a format that I like to use, I like to talk about, well, where did they come from? Like what were they experiencing? Not like “where” location, but like what experience brought them to you? What was the problem? What was the solution that you provided? So it could be your product or service, and then what is the success that they experienced?

This is kind of the framework that I use for my testimonials with my clients and it’s even the framework that I like to give testimonials for other people. Because then, in essence, and if you’re familiar with StoryBrand, you’ve heard those three questions together before, but you’re actually showing a transformation. You’re showing, “Hey, this is where they were. And then this is where they ended up.”

So with our marketing, for example, we had a client recently. They didn’t know how to get leads. And so then they used our ads and our ads manager and then they were able to get leads that converted into clients. They were able to fill their pipeline. That three-piece testimonial shows the transformation that your clients undergo and then also allows prospective clients to kind of step into your client’s shoes and say, “Hey, I have that problem, I want that solution. And I want that success.”

So now we’ve covered: what do we do if we don’t have a place to get testimonials from, like, we don’t have clients yet? We’ve also covered: what should the framework be? With that framework, either you can write it or you can have your clients write it, whatever you want.

Now let’s talk about where to put them. I love putting reviews on Google My Business. There is actually a link that you can give your clients to put it up. So, like I said, sometimes we’ll write testimonials for our clients. They’ll approve it. And then we’ll say, “Hey, that’s awesome. Do you mind putting it up on Google My Business?”

Obviously, we are the people who put it up on our website, put it in our marketing collateral, but you have to have your clients physically put it in Google my Business for it to count and it will show up that they said it. So that’s the one place that you can put it. It helps you maintain searchability in Google. If people do find you they’ll see the reviews, they’ll be able to read it. 

If you have a Facebook, Facebook is another great place. Again, your client has to be the one to do it, but it’ll show up on Facebook as a review, and then when people are looking for you, they’ll also see it. If Yelp or Amazon are really great places that are appropriate for your business, make sure you encourage people to leave reviews on there. But ultimately, what you have control over is using your testimonials on your website or in your social media.

We love using testimonials because it’s an opportunity for you to kind of brag about yourself without bragging about yourself. I mean, we have a whole episode on that if you wanted to tune in to episode two or three, but what I would say is you have the power to show people the transformation that your clients have experienced, so why wouldn’t you use testimonials? 

You just need to lay the groundwork and do the groundwork to get them from people. Whether it’s you writing them, you finding friends and family who might leave them, whatever it might be, get those testimonials so that you can show that your product or service is solving a problem and creating success for others.

If you are sold on the idea of getting testimonials and you know that you need them, but you still feel uncomfortable asking for them, get in touch with our team. We have this really cool process where we can collect testimonials on your behalf. Sometimes it helps get more honest answers, but then also we can help formulate that three-part testimonial for you.

But honestly, if people love your product, they are going to be so, so, so happy to give you some nice words to share with others. So put an email together. Ask friends, family, clients, whatever it might be, to say some words about your product or service that shows the transformation that they’ve experienced.

I promise you’re not going to regret it. In fact, it may just lead to some extra dog sitting opportunities like it did for me. Just kidding! For me, it led to dog sitting opportunities, thanks to my sister’s wonderful review. But for you, it’s going to lead to more products sold, more services rendered, et cetera, et cetera.