Testimonials. Raves. Reviews.
Call them what you want, but know that they all boil down to one thing: social proof. Proof from past and current clients that you do what you do as well as you say you do. (How’s that for a mouthful?!)
It’s this social proof that can make or break your solopreneur marketing. Consider when you hire a contractor to work on your home, or are searching for a great new restaurant to take your friend for her birthday: I’m willing to bet that nine times out of ten, you’ll scour a review site to make sure the person or place is as good as their marketing makes them look. Agree?
The same happens when people are searching for the solution you provide. They land on your home page, check out your about page to see who you really are, and maybe hit up your blog to get a better feel for your expertise. But before they hire or buy? They’ll want to read reviews.
That’s why, whether you’re brand new to a side hustle or are a seasoned business owner, it’s incredibly important to collect testimonials and use them effectively on your website and in your marketing. Read on to get started.
Who to collect testimonials from
Consider the services and products you offer. For example, I’m a copywriter. So naturally, I’ll look to my copywriting clients to provide testimonials about my copywriting skills and conversion rates. But, I also provide other ways of helping fellow solopreneurs and One Woman Shops. Each time I offer a service or jump on a “pick my brain” call with a fellow solopreneur, I immediately follow it up with a gentle ask for a testimonial.
This could go on -- if you’ve released an ebook, you’ll want to solicit reviews from readers. If you’ve built and facilitated a course, you’ll want to garner testimonials from participants. You get the idea -- take all of your services and products into account (including what you’d like to offer in the future), and make a list of people who can provide a testimonial for each.
And remember: testimonials don’t have to be limited to your current client base. Keep your past clients in mind when you’re making your list.
Then, it’s time to make the ask.
How to ask for a testimonial
There are two goals when devising your process for testimonial gathering:
1. Make it ridiculously easy for your client.
2. Make it ridiculously easy for you.
Sounds great, right? Here’s how you get there:
Create a template. No matter how many services or products you offer, you can build a few standard templates to be used over and over again. You’ll want certain things out of your testimonials, but remember -- your clients can’t read your mind. That's why it's important to create templates that prompt them for the exact information you’d like. Here’s an example of what mine might look like for my Copy Power Hour:
- What was the biggest benefit you received from your Copy Power Hour?
- Based on what you got out of your Copy Power Hour, how will your business’ copy change?
- Would you recommend the Copy Power Hour to a fellow business owner?
I’m only looking for my testimonials to be about 100-200 words, so I keep my ask to three questions. For you, this might look different.
Templates are a great way to systematize how you ask for testimonials. (Click to tweet this!) Creating a few different templates tailored to your different products and services sets you up for easy asks when the time comes. And the real bonus? It makes it easy on your clients to answer specific questions and provide you feedback.
Load it into an easily replicable form. Once you’ve developed your set of templates, get them set up in an easy-to-share form. For me, that means loading them into Typeform. (I highly recommend it!)
The beauty of using a form generator like Typeform, Wufoo, or Google Forms, is that you can easily link to the form over and over again, and the software will gather the results and generate reports for you. Each time someone fills out a Copy Power Hour testimonial form, I get a beautifully organized email from Typeform with the answers, which I can then copy and paste into a testimonial on my site. Voila -- you’ve just made it easy on yourself.
Save an email draft that you can personalize when the time comes. The final step once your templates are turned into beautiful forms: distribute. Again, the goal here is to keep it simple on your part. To continue with my example, this means saving an email draft in my inbox labeled “Copy Power Hour feedback.” Just a few hours after our session, I’ll send a quick follow up to the client with a summary of our session, and a link to the testimonial form.
For products or services sold on a grander scale, you might have a campaign set up in your email client that automatically goes out once they’ve purchased or completed something. Consider the best process for your biz, and make it happen.
Make testimonials work for your business
Word-of-mouth and referral marketing are the bread and butter of gaining new clients at very little expense. Asking for testimonials means purposefully gathering that word-of-mouth and referral marketing so that you can use it to work for you.
Stay tuned: we’ve got a post coming up soon on how to effectively use the testimonials you’ve gathered throughout your website! For now, make your list of past and current clients, develop your forms, and start making your asks.