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When The Project Is Over - Gathering Testimonials

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In my previous post, I wrote about conducting a follow-up meeting after a project. This is the perfect time to ask for testimonials and referrals. You’re still fresh in your client’s mind and, providing the project went well, they think you’re the bee’s knees. The meeting, or better yet, lunch, should happen as close to the end of the project as possible. If you wait too long, your client will likely forget about you until they need your services again.

One of the most important marketing tools, especially for freelancers, are testimonials. Why? Before the project begins, and often well into it, there aren't any tangibles. That spells high anxiety for your new client, as well as your prospects before signing on.

One of the most important marketing tools, especially for freelancers, are testimonials.

Working with a new service provider can be a scary proposition. Will you live up to their expectations? Will you be able to deliver the goods… on time and within budget?

Testimonials are an excellent way to help set their mind at ease. They're an endorsement, ideally from someone like them, singing the praises of you. But, not all testimonials are created equal. Vague comments, initials-only sign-offs (e.g.: A.B., New York), lack of specific benefits and results tend to water down testimonials.

On the flip side, well-crafted client comments will go a long way toward positioning you as the “go to” person, an effective problem-solver, increase the perceived value of your work and, ultimately, make closing a deal loads easier.

How to Get Quality Client Testimonials

So, how does one go about getting these tantalizing testimonials? One asks. Simple? Yes. But, it's a little task that's often forgotten. In business, as in life, if you don't ask, you don't get. To help ensure you get your fair share of quotable comments, it's a good idea to have a system in place. A really simple way is to ask for a testimonial at the follow-up meeting and then have an email saved that you customize and send out at the end of each project.

You're still fresh in their mind and they're doing the happy dance. Having the testimonial in email form helps to ensure you got it right and it’s easy to copy and paste it into various outlets.

Take advantage of the opportunity quickly. As mentioned, your glowing abilities and solid solutions will fade fast as other fires start up for your client. If you have a project checklist (and you should), sending the testimonial request should be one of the last items on it.

When folks get requests for testimonials, they usually don't know what to say, other than, “Working with Billy Bob was great,” or, “Marge is an excellent graphic designer.” Don't be afraid to give them a wee bit of instruction. Here's an example:

Good day Jack,

I had a great time working on your recent WackyWidgets email campaign and was more than delighted to learn it produced a 35% increase in sales for you.

As you're likely aware, referrals and testimonials are the life blood of my business. I'd appreciate it if you would take a few spare minutes to email me some of your thoughts about the project and its results, along with your experience of working with me.

I use client testimonials in my promotional efforts, such as on my site, e-newsletter and print materials. With your permission, I'll add your comments, name and company, along with a link to the WackyWidget's site. Rest assured that whenever I have the opportunity to talk up your company or make a referral, I will.

Thanks for your help. It's clients like you who make my job truly rewarding. I look forward to working with you again!

All the best,

Neil

P.S. I know your schedule is hectic, to say the least. If it would be easier for me to write it and email it to you for any changes and your approval, consider it done.

In doing my part to make your life a little easier, feel free to use this with your clients.

Perhaps you're slow and would prefer not to be. With a few modifications, the above letter can be adapted to send out to past clients. Plus, it will give you something to use to get back in touch. It may just help rekindle a relationship.

Good day Jack,

I haven't heard from you in a while and I hope all is going well for you. I've enjoyed working with you on the WackyWidgets site and print materials. I hope we can do it again soon.

As you're likely aware, referrals and testimonials are the life blood of my business. I'd appreciate it if you would take a few spare minutes to email me some of your thoughts about the projects we've developed and their results, along with your experience of working with me.

I use client testimonials in my promotional efforts, such as on my site, e-newsletter and print materials. With your permission, I'll add your comments, name and company, along with a link to the WackyWidget's site. Rest assured that whenever I have the opportunity to talk up your company or make a referral, I will.

Thanks for your help. It's clients like you who make my job truly rewarding. Perhaps we could get together for lunch in the near future (on me) and talk about your marketing plans for the balance of the year.

All the best,

Neil

P.S. I know your schedule is hectic, to say the least. If it would be easier for me to write it and email it to you for any changes and your approval, consider it done.

Once you have a few solid testimonials, put them to work on your site and in your other marketing and promotional efforts. You'll find they'll go a long way toward positioning you in a positive light, demonstrate your abilities and value, as well as set your prospects' minds at ease.

In the next part of this series we'll learn tips on how to get rockin' referrals.

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