This past Saturday I cheated! I fell off my no carbohydrate diet with a trip to the bagel store. I ordered and then proceeded to one of the two cash registers to pay for my order. The first register was directly ahead of me, but customers were waiting there; the second was around a corner, and it had no customers. I proceed to the second register, and as I was paying, I noticed a plaque on the counter—an award for “Best Bagels” from 201 Magazine, a high-end publication for Bergen County, New Jersey (201 is the area code for Bergen County).
I called the owner over, introduced myself, and asked why he’d placed his award where few people see it (few customers seem to choose the second register, tucked around a corner). He said he wasn’t sure where to put it so it wouldn’t be in the way. I might have chuckled at that—in the way? I told him he should put it in the front window near the door so when people walk by, they will see the endorsement and walk in even if they weren’t planning on falling off their no-carb diet that day.
If you want to IMPACT your markets and grow your business, you must leverage your existing customers’ experiences in working with you. Prospects need to hear from those who will say you are the best, your delivery is always on time, your quality is second to none, and so forth. When prospects hear this from other customers (rather than from you), it transforms what could be perceived as boasting into a legitimate endorsement from a third party. Endorsements mean more than anything you can personally say about your products and services.
Business owners used to accomplish this by asking for testimonial letters. Today, there is a better way. Here are six pointers for securing third-party endorsements that will IMPACT! your prospects:
1. When visiting a satisfied customer, simply ask if they would be willing to share their experiences on a video that you can show to prospects. Most will say yes unless they have internal guidelines that prohibit them for doing so or have to get corporate clearance. If they say yes, ask them to sign a waiver (a short, written agreement that gives you permission to show the video to others in your marketing efforts). Then pull out your smartphone. Tell the customer you want them to share their experiences on quality, delivery, outcomes, or whatever you choose. Then simply turn on the video recorder, ask your question, and let your customer do the selling for you!
2. You may want to consider using a Lavalier microphone (also known as a lav mic or a lapel mic), which plugs into the smartphone. I sometimes do, but I have also recorded good video without an external microphone. If you are not in a noisy area, using the built-in mic on your phone should be fine.
3. Keep the video to no longer than two or three minutes. Short is better.
4. If you record enough of these from different industries, you can now call on testimonials from the prospect’s peers. Until you have all your industries covered, you can use what you have. It will be far better than you telling the prospects how great you are.
5. Put the videos on your website under a bar titled “Customer Testimonials.” People always click on testimonials. You should also use these videos in your sales presentations at the appropriate time.
If your customer is not allowed to participate in a video recording, then fall back on the age-old solution and ask your customer to send you a written testimonial. You can even offer to send them a sample; then they can either sign off on it or edit it as they wish.
The bagel store owner didn’t even have to ask for that testimonial—the magazine rated them number #1. Most of us do have to ask, but the effort to obtain testimonials pales in comparison to their IMPACT! Why? Because customer testimonials will sell you more powerfully than anything you have to say.
Third-party endorsements are GOLD! Take the time to mine for them, and then watch them turn into riches.