Is the Proof in the Printing or the Satisfied Customers?
Consumers have many options before choosing a printing company – it is up to you to give them a reason to give you their business. Do you offer the best customer service? Does your sales team have loads of experience? That’s great! Now it's time to get the word out.
Picture the customer. How often do you consider a purchase – software, general contractor, dentist, (add a service here) – without researching website testimonials or online reviews? Whether or not you let this sway your next steps, the chances are high that your potential customers do. According to this Nielsen study – 70% of consumers consider recommendations from people they don’t know.
When prospects visit your website, do they hear this from existing clients? One of the single best sales tools you have at your disposal is testimonials from happy customers. Collecting them, however, takes patience and persistence. This “social proof” is evidence about your client experience, straight from the source, authoritative and authentic, making it worth every minute spent on the process, however. Incorporated in marketing efforts, it can increase interest in your business – which in turn has a direct impact on your bottom line.
Here are some tips on identifying the best opportunities for testimonials, strategies for reaching out, and what you can do to earn those coveted testimonials.
A Starting Point
So where do you begin? The best place to start is to think about recent or past installations. Ask your sales team which projects went over the best, and which customers seemed the happiest with the end results. Check your order system to see which customers keep coming back. Ask your customer service team for feedback from customers on their experience – how did the installation go? Was the work completed on time? Did the client share positive feedback? Research contact names for all of these possibilities, and jot down 3 – 5 potential “leads”.
Why refer to them as leads? Some are warm, some are cold, and most need to be nurtured and closed – just like in the sales process itself. At least 50% will decline to provide a testimonial.
From there, start the outreach with a short email. Referencing co-worker names is a must: most people are familiar with the salesperson or customer service contact they worked with. Here are some of the points you will want touch on:
- Mention you heard about their positive experience.
- Thank them for their business.
- Mention the co-worker who referred you.
- Share a recent testimonial for reference.
- Ask if they will consider writing one (2 – 3 sentences max).
Didn’t hear back? Schedule an email for the following week. No response? Email again in a week. When I don’t hear back after email two, I call. At this point: either the timing isn’t right, the customer is busy, or in some cases, doesn’t understand the request.
Good news: once you connect, most clients are happy to provide. Not-So-Good-News: this type of request is not top of their priority list. Testimonial outreach is a sales game without a cash exchange: the more prospects you keep in the funnel, the more opportunities will “close,” however.
Here You Go!
Just had a client provide that terrific testimonial? Congratulations! Ask if you may include a headshot, and if no headshot is available check their LinkedIn profile – many customers send me here. Is their photo on a company team page? Offer to download that instead. Each website is different, so be sure to understand pixel sizes and requirements for your site to make sure it will display correctly.
If the customer is uncomfortable with a photo, see if a company logo is an option instead. Some clients prefer this route for the ability to do a bit of branding of their own. And if they don’t want to do that? While testimonials are always better with an image, don't be afraid to use a project photo, or untimely run it without an image – a testimonial without a photo is still better than none at all.
When possible, list the full names, titles, and company names for each customer and testimonial. Remember, you’re building trust and encouraging a prospect connect with your company. Genuine photos, names, and information make a bigger impact.
TIP: If they don’t mention the name of the product or service, ask if you may add it. For example:
Testimonial One: “Company X was great to work with, responsive and the customer service was excellent.”
Testimonial Two (with term added): “Company X was great to work with and did an amazing job installing our window graphics. They were responsive, and customer service was excellent.”
While there is no guarantee, keywords can help with search engine optimization efforts. And this speaks directly to the customer considering your services for their own company.
Pepper Your Proof
Once you have the testimonials, where do you list them? Consider how people interact with your business, and then place the testimonials in a high-traffic location where prospects are most likely to see them. Examples include:
- Add testimonials to your website products and service pages.
- Developing a brochure, fliers, or other collateral for promotions? Incorporate into your design.
- Exhibit at trade shows? Add testimonials to banner stands and place them at your table.
- Host tours or open houses at your shop? Place the same banner stands around the facility.
- Drop the best testimonials in sales presentations.
Ask and You Shall Receive
Testimonials should be part of your larger marketing strategy. They can influence purchases, impact search engine results, and enhance marketing materials. They are also a great way to start conversations for longer client case studies – but that’s a whole other article! Have you incorporated testimonial outreach into your efforts? Let us know in the comments and share your success stories.
Jon Davis is in the marketing department at Cushing, a commercial printer and environmental branding firm in Chicago. Recently he has contributed to articles to Self Employment in the Arts, the Business Marketing Association, and Work Design Magazine. From marketing strategy to office branding and customer case studies, he writes on a variety of topics.