Testimonials are strange, strange animals. They’re necessary for social proof. They’re great in expressing the larger, added value of your work (not only what you deliver, but what it’s like to work with you). And yet, they’re hella awkward.
They’re awkward to ask for. They’re awkward to tweak. They’re awkward to write for yourself and then get approval (which happens a lot). On the upside, who doesn’t love reading nice things about themselves?!
I totally hate it!!! (Said no one, ever.)
Shit, sometimes when I’m feeling down and I wanna reach for a pint (okay, gallon) of chocolate ice cream or vodka or chocolate ice-cream flavored vodka, I just re-read my testimonials instead. Instant mood booster!
It all comes down to selling YOU. And that’s weird for people.
So I broke it down into 4 steps to simplify the process for you, but first … let me take a testie.
Boom. So, if you want clear, to-the-point testies like that (but actually about YOU!), here’s my 4-step approach to nailing them!
Bonus: Steps 2 to 4 totally apply to the testies you have to write for other people (assuming they haven’t read this blog and followed my A-plus advice yet).
Because let’s be honest: writing great testimonials makes you a better human. And being a better human feels good. Plus, it gets you more business and referrals, too. (Bling bling!) Let’s hang with some testies!
1. FIRST of all, Create a feedback form.
If you don’t have a feedback form yet for your clients – what the hell are you doing, buddy? Don’t wait any longer! Make one, get one, beg, borrow, steal… even lie or cheat if you have to.
There are tons of free and cheap resources for creating forms. I personally use Google Forms for my feedback forms. I’ve been sent to WuFoo and JotForm and Gravity Forms from other solopreneurs I know and love (and have hired). And if none of those work for you, guess what? There’s probably another hundred you could dig up that are great.
Why is a form better than free-flow testimonials?
It takes the awkward out of the equation. No, not for you, silly. It’s still awkward for you (sorry!). But for your client. And in case you didn’t know it yet, that’s your job. To make things as easy and non-awkward for them as possible. So having a simple set of questions to respond to? Makes things very, very easy. They shouldn’t have to worry about whether they’re saying the right things, the right way! That’s your job! So that takes us to step two.
2. Tease out the story.
Here’s a mini story-telling class from a bitch who’s got a big, fancy degree in it!
Story is about how a person changes. That’s it. It’s transformation. What’s point A (before they worked with you) and what’s point B (how they left you and alllllll they got from it)? Ask yourself what key points align with your overall sales and marketing message and hammer those home. This is also a great time to reflect on your awesomeness and how you’re kicking serious ass helping people and changing lives. You. Are. The. Bomb. (And everyone should know it.) Review those feedback responses and dig for the story.
So if you’ve got three sentences, think of them like a sandwich.
Here’s how they breakdown.
1. The top-slice-set-up sentence: Tell me how this client was when they met you/hired you/came to you.
When I came to Shonda, I was a bumbling mess who didn’t know how to talk to men…
2. The meat (or tempeh) sentence. Describe how you offered value and services that changed that experience for them.
Shonda really made me examine what was scary or challenging about that for me, and forced me to shift my view of myself….
3. The bottom-bread-bottom-line sentence: Tell me the results!
Now I’m flirting on a regular basis and exuding confidence to every man I meet! Hello, future husbands!
Yum! Break me off a piece of that sandwich! Now, this doesn’t mean you should only have three sentences of content – if you want some lettuce or a tomato or mayo – go for it. I’m sure your clients had more to gush about.
Next level tip: tailor your feedback questions to get these basic story points answered for you. Then you’ll never be left with: Shonda was great! Shonda was great at that too! Wow, was Shonda great. Cause that will be a weird testie and you know who likes weird testies? People you don’t wanna work with.
3. Create a headline.
From all of this fat, juicy sandwich story (#omnomnom) – you get to cherry pick the MOST IMPORTANT PART for your future clients to see. Use that to highlight your value and create a little headline for your testie! I prefer to select a line right out of their mouth and just repeat it as a headline. That way, if someone wants to read the entire testie, they can – but if they just scan the testie page they will get a good sense of what you do and who you do it for, without much work. Remember your job: more ease and less awkwardness!
In addition, go ahead and bold a second line if your testie is on the long side and you have another important point of value you’d like to highlight.
4. Set the note they leave on.
Okay, this is a tip I am taking from my screenwriting background. Haha, sucker! Whatever, it works. You know that feeling when you walk out of a movie that made an impact on you, large or small? Think about your favorite movie and how you felt after the first time you watched it. Were you moved? Motivated? Excited? Romantic?
What is the feeling that YOU want your prospective client to walk away with? Is your brand about being supportive? Is it about making money? Is it about inciting massive change? Or getting healthy?
Those results and the associated feelings your prospective clients will have – that’s the glue that holds everything together. So once you identify that note and that feeling, make sure the sentence you end with (and bold that shizz!) contains it.
I didn’t believe a love life was possible for me anymore, but after working with Shonda, I know that it is. The right love is out there for me and I’ll find it, because I’m actually ready.
SURPRISE #5 (corollary to step one)… If your client prefers to write their own testie (like me, cause I’m a writer who specializes in gushing on your value – I might play tough but I’m gushy like that) – let them!
It will likely be highly inspired. If you find it isn’t to-the-point or concise enough, you can always tweak it and let them know.
Here’s a quickie run-down of the testie formula in a sweet little pic:
Questions? Anything unclear? Wanna give me a high five or booty smack? Cool! Comment at me!
And then, when you’re ready to dive even deeper into that website copy of yours, I’ve got a FREEE workbook to make that so so easy. Click on the pretty pic below to grab it up!
hugs + high-fives,
p.s. We like to offer a testimonial tweaking service as part of our All-The-Way package because you want testimonials that are easy to scan and clearly state what your prospective clients need-to-know, all while eliciting the right feels. While that’s not always brain surgery, selling yourself is (seriously fucking) hard so getting that message to make waves in your testies is no downward-dog-in-the-park. I get it. I don’t love doing that crap for myself either. Wahhhh! Business is hard. *wink*