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from a lifetime of personal experience founding and growing small businesses.
Testimonials are referrals that are blind. Nevertheless, they are valuable.
A referral occurs when Sue tells her friend Mary that Bill runs the best auto repair shop in town. The message is straightforward and between two women who know each other. Mary goes to Bill's shop on the word of Sue, thus confident that Bill will do a good job.
A testimonial occurs when Sue allows Bill to quote her good experience in his advertising. Bill might put Sue's words in a brochure or on his website page--Sue's testimonial lends credence to Bill's service and reputation. He might also put her testimonial in a social media setting.
Angie's List is built on the testimonial concept. People provide their experiences with a variety of businesses--electricians, plumbers, landscapers, carpenters, florists, and many more. It helps people who don't know you to come in on the word of someone else.
Your small business might or might not be part of Angie's List. But you can still ask your customers/clients for testimonials. When you do this, try to get their permission to use their name--full name is best, first name only is second best but valuable--and their city. When people read the testimonial, it helps them put a face on it.
Example: After repairing her brakes, Bill asked Sue for a testimonial. As she paid the bill, she wrote the following: "Bill's Auto Repair gets you in and gets you out--pronto. His technician fixed my brake problem while I waited and I was on my way." She signed it simply "Sue" and declined to name the town or use her last name. Bill has used her testimonial to good advantage ever since, including the "like" Sue placed on his Facebook page.
Testimonials can be powerful. They inspire confidence in potential customers/clients by bringing in the word of a disinterested third party.
Get testimonials whenever you can, and use them wherever it makes sense.
After a lifetime of founding and operating several small businesses, plus working directly with more than 2,000 small business owners, I am now retired. I'll happily answer your questions at no charge. Email me at AlWarr16@gmail.com and put BLOG in the subject line. Your privacy is always respected.