Originally published in The Frederick News Post

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I was visited by a salesman who guaranteed $200 off my monthly electric bill for new window installation, with an additional mark-down if I placed a billboard in my front yard. He really pushed for that deal knowing that once the sign was up, it would serve as a valuable endorsement that would ultimately bring in future sales.

With the economy the way it is, home improvements are not in my immediate budget. And if they were, I’d probably get referrals from friends or neighbors first — some who might already have a sign on their property. This same type of advertising strategy can be applied to your new business as potential customers investigate their friends and neighbors buying habits before signing on the dotted line.

I know the power of testimonials all too well by positioning them on print promotions, and then watching those campaigns generate higher returns than those without them. And, as we delve deeper into the electronic age the possibilities of where endorsements can be placed are endless.

5 Steps for Producing Strong Customer Testimonials
The key to producing great attention-grabbing quotes is to collect as many referrals as you can with an online survey. If you have a great product, must-attend event or premium service you should have no problem getting great endorsements from customers. You can do this rather quickly with the help of SurveyMonkey.

SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com) is an online platform that allows you to create any type of survey — from simple to sophisticated … you can launch a survey and get your answers within days with its easy-to-use survey builder. SurveyMonkey is free but also includes several pricing options for more advanced polls.

How to Put Your Survey Together in 5 Steps

  1. Pull your most recent customer list. For webinars or conferences pull your registration list to send a survey immediately following the event.
  2. Create an electronic message to link to the survey. This email should be kept short. Include an incentive for filling-out the survey. I recently offered $5 Starbucks gift cards to respondents.
  3. Compose a short list of survey questions. Include critical bits information that can also assist with product development or future event topics. Near the end of your survey, include one question asking for permission to use the survey feedback as an endorsement. Something like this: “If I can quote you on your answer(s) 1 thru 7, please provide your name, e-mail and phone number”.
  4. Transmit your email message linked to the survey. Analyze your results.
  5. Get approval. To produce quotes you may have to tweak the copy a bit by working with your responders. Follow-up with a personal thank you e-mail and include a layout of the edited testimonial.

Tip: Include professional titles as a required field to create this testimonial:  “Of the 200 CEOs surveyed, 98% said our product is their number one choice.”

6 Places to Strategically Place Customer Testimonials
Once you have received approval to use your customer’s testimonials you can now place them on:

  • Websites: on the main, client, testimonials or event registration page.
  • Email Campaigns: insert within the message or to fill the white space. Tip: Include an image of the product, photo of a person or logo.
  • Press Releases: throw in a few references and it makes for a powerful sale.
  • Text Messages: mobile marketing is one of the most effective and cost efficient ways to market your business or service.
  • Social Media:  incorporate kudos as captions at the bottom of the YouTube screen at the same time customers are giving praise. Work quotes into your Facebook and Twitter posts. And, don’t forget to sell yourself with a Linkedin testimonial.
  • Print: direct mail, fliers, advertisements and brochures

Putting together your survey may take time, but in the end valuable opportunities will emerge from your many endorsements.