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6 Ways to Leverage Customer Testimonials

Word of mouth remains a powerful force for attracting new customers. Recent studies show that 72 percent of consumers trust a business more if it has positive testimonials and reviews. Customer testimonials can reinforce your value, validate your expertise, and build trust. However, they can’t do those things unless you find ways to use your customers’ glowing remarks to your advantage.

In this post, we’ll share ideas for encouraging customers to share their positive experiences. We’ll also offer suggestions for how to leverage customer testimonials to attract more business.

Tips for Encouraging Testimonials from Your Customers

While many people are quick to leave negative feedback for businesses, they may need some nudging to take the time and effort to write about their positive experiences. A few ways to get more testimonials include:

  • Ask them for feedback at the point of sale by having survey or comment cards available.
  • Send an email survey after customers visit your location or make a purchase.
  • Tell them which social media platforms you’re on, and invite them to share their thoughts in a post and tag your page or account.
  • Post a sign with the review websites you participate in (for example, Yelp, Google My Business, Citysearch, TripAdvisor, etc.). Just be careful with how you word your signage. Some review sites—Yelp, for example—prohibit asking customers to leave reviews. Yelp does, however, allow the use of some of its brand assets so that businesses can let customers know they can be found there. Also, never pay or offer other incentives to customers for writing positive reviews.

6 Suggestions for Leveraging Customer Testimonials

Before using all or parts of customer testimonials for your marketing purposes, get permission from the people who wrote them. This applies to the online reviews that customers post publicly, as well. You might consider creating a testimonial release form to protect your business legally and ensure customers know how you will use their testimonials and where they may appear.

Here are some tips when using testimonials to highlight what’s terrific about your business:

  1. Feature the most compelling part(s) of testimonials—especially those that are long-winded. If you pull out various snippets from different places in a testimonial and piece them together, get approval from the customer before using your amended version.
  2. Fix spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. As long as you’re not changing the meaning of their testimonials, customers will likely welcome proofreading edits. Again, share any changes that you’ve made to get approval before publishing testimonials.
  3. Publish testimonials on the pages of your website that they are relevant to. For example, say someone raved about a bike shop’s repair services in their testimonial. By prominently placing that testimonial on its Repair Services page, the bike shop will give site visitors interested in repair services confirmation of its competence.
  4. Include one or two compelling quotes from customer testimonials in your email signature. Every time you send an email to prospects, they will get a glimpse of how happy your customers are with your business.
  5. Share them on social media. Weaving testimonials into your social media content will serve to humanize your brand and reinforce your value to customers. Consider strengthening the human connection to your brand by asking customers if they will provide or allow you to take a photo to accompany their testimonial.
  6. Record them on video. Consider asking a few customers if they’d be willing to share their testimonials in a video message. These could take the form of amateur snippets recorded with a smartphone and used in social media posts. Or, they could be professionally captured by a videographer and woven into an impactful story that you can feature on your website’s home page, on YouTube, or in TV spots.

The Most Important Testimonial Tip Of All

Your business must earn positive testimonials. Customers will only give them if you deliver excellence, so make sure you provide the best customer experience possible. If you need guidance on what your business can do to achieve a higher level of customer satisfaction, connect with SCORE.  Visit the SCORE website to get a mentor or sign up for workshops.

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6 Goal-Setting Tips

As 2020 ramps up, now is the time to think about what you want your small business to accomplish before 2021. But goal-setting (and hence, goal-achieving) can fall flat if you don’t approach it without a plan.

Let’s explore some “goals” to consider for your goal-setting activities.

Six Tips to Help Small Business Owners Set Goals that Matter

  1. Focus on what’s critical to your business’ success.

Having too many goals can be overwhelming, making it difficult to concentrate on any of them effectively. And, setting arbitrary goals that won’t make a difference to your bottom line will create meaningless busywork. Before you sit down to set your goals, think carefully about what really matters and can make a difference to the health of your business.

  1. Make sure your goals are specific and measurable.

Vague goals won’t do your business any favors. For example, “reduce operating expenses” leaves things wide open for interpretation. On the other hand, “Reduce office supply costs by 10 percent” provides a specific and measurable goal.

  1. Make sure your goals are attainable.

Don’t chase unicorns. You should have to work to reach your goals, but if they’re so far out there that there’s nearly no chance of achieving them, you’ll set yourself up for failure. Be realistic and reasonable.

  1. Break things down.

Setting an annual numerical goal can be helpful. However, it may seem impossible to reach that lofty number in the early months of the year when you’re starting at ground zero. Consider breaking yearly goals down into monthly—or even weekly—targets to put them into a shorter-term perspective. For example, an annual goal of “add 100 new prospective customers as connections on LinkedIn” may seem daunting. But when distilled down into a weekly goal of adding two new prospects as contacts per week, reaching the annual goal becomes far less intimidating.

  1. Create a strategy for achieving your goals.

Create a roadmap for what you and others must do to meet your goals. What has to happen daily, weekly, and quarterly to get you to the finish line? Create to-do lists to help keep you and your employees on track.

  1. Set time aside for assessing your situation.

Carve out time monthly or at least quarterly to review whether you’re on target to meet your goals. Are stakeholders following through on their responsibilities? By monitoring your progress regularly, you’ll know if (and why) you’re veering off-course. Then, you can evaluate options for getting back on the right path before it’s too late.

SCORE Can Help You Reach Your Goals

SCORE mentors offer objective guidance and insight to startups and existing small businesses of all sizes and kinds. Contact us for help in taking an objective look at your business as you set your goals for 2020.