How A Well-Crafted Testimonial Can Cover Your A@#!

Posted on Posted in blogging, customer focus, customer loyalty, customer relationships


The point of this article to show how you to establish TRUST.

Two of the best ways to build TRUST are through the testimonial and the expert source. Let me define what I mean for you:

  • The testimonial presents a favorable opinion of your product or service from someone who doesn’t have a stake in it.
  • The credible source presents the opinion or findings of an expert to vouch that what you say is true.

But why is this so important? ‎

Fact: You can make claims from now until the opening of football season, but unless you can produce at least two reliable sources to corroborate your claims, nobody’s going to believe you.

That’s because, though the Internet is fast and far-reaching, it can also be deceptive. It’s a giant cloaking device. What we see ain’t necessarily what is.

Think about it.

It’s possible to order from Pizza Hut ® in Helsinki while sipping an umbrella drink in an overwater bungalow in Bali and no one tell the difference.

That’s as long as you have WIFI, a valid credit card, a time zone converter . . . AND . . . speak Finnish.


Accessibility does not equal reliability.

What I’m saying is this…

Just because it’s on the Internet and you wrote it, doesn’t mean anyone will believe you.

We are living in the age of avatars, spear-phishing, and hijacked PCs. Gullibility is at an all time low, and well it should be.


Why Construct Testimonials

Testimonials show proven results. They’re an honest way to step around the veil of cyber anonymity. They’re an opportunity to produce the unbiased testimony of at least two “witnesses” to vouch for you.

The credible source is nothing new. Any journalist worth his or her salt uses at least one good source when producing a newspaper article. I’ve seen entire books where every paragraph is backed by a unique source. One such book is The Craft of Interviewing by John Brady. Talk about diligence. I highly recommend it.

As a top-notch blogger, you’ll want to use lots of honest, impartial opinions.

You can’t know everything. BUT you can find a mind-boggling assortment of experts in a wide range of fields on LinkedIn. Check Reddit and Quora while you’re at it.


When and How To Leverage a Testimonial and a Credible Source


TESTIMONIAL: Let’s say I’m selling a natural weight loss herb. I might include feedback from two satisfied customers.

“It was easy to use and I lost 5 pounds in only two weeks.”

“I’ve lost 10 pounds, and since I’ve been using it I’ve had lots of energy.”

CREDIBLE SOURCE: I could also give the professional opinion of a doctor or scientist that this product is safe to use.

“Our research has shown that this herb is completely safe when used under the supervision of a doctor.”


Other than that, there aren’t any hard fast rules except:

  • They must be the real thing; no forgeries
  • Edit down to the most important sentence or two; rambling will kill the magic
  • Include a photo and a company link so people can check if they want to


In this recent New York Times article alleging violence against teens imprisoned at Rikers Island, journalists Benjamin Weiser and Michael Schwirtz provided checkable details. They included the name and credentials of the investigating attorney and access to his report.
New York Times, August 4th, 2014






Any questions? Weiser and Schwirtz give the contact’s name, his role as U.S. attorney and his published findings. Every detail is there for interested readers to review. Though this wasn’t a testimonial, it was a credible source. Producing work this honest can transform a fledgeling blog into an authority in a snap.


What to include when writing a testimonial or credible source:

  • Specific details: names, dates, locations to strengthen claims
  • Make sure the claim is the honest opinion of the quoted source
  • Give credentials if you are sourcing an expert
  • Chose a testimony from someone your audience can identify with


Facts and Figures About Testimonials

“…word of mouth1 is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions. Its influence is greatest when consumers are buying a product for the first time or when products are relatively expensive, factors that tend to make people conduct more research, seek more opinions, and deliberate longer than they otherwise would.” McKinsey & Company, A new way to measure word-of-mouth marketing

Social media (SM) is a virtually untapped resource for testimonials. Here’s how top companies use SM to tap into direct access with their buyers:

  • 52% use SM to research “new product ideas” via social media
  • 50% have an online user group for customers
  • 47% of effective social media users collect and track customer reviews on their sites.

Check out the article: Social Media: What Most Companies Don’t Know, published in the Harvard Business Review.


Positioning The Testimonial

Include your testimonial early on or “above the fold.” Why? Because if you don’t offer social proof early enough, it won’t matter. The reader may bail before (s)he can read it.

In one of my earlier Survival of the Fittest articles, I mention the new practice of providing visual storytelling and data as early as your article Lede. The savviest ledes these days are doing just that.


Securing A Testimonial

It’s good to keep a file of testimonials. When a customer sends a delighted Thank You, put it in a file. Get permission to publish it in writing.

Another place to find testimonials is social media.

It’s also appropriate to ask a client at the completion of a successful job if they’d offer a testimonial. Most clients will say yes. Bob Bly, the copywriting master, gives this brief script in his book: Secrets of a Freelance Writer.

Your email: I just want to make sure you got the final copy, and that you’re pleased with everything.

Client: Got it. You did a great job! We love the copy!

Your reply: Thanks for the kind words. Would you mind if I used them as a testimonial to promote my services?

Save the email exchange for your records. You can also forward the following letter, which is based upon suggestions from Bob Bly:

Dear Business-Owner-Name:

I wanted to ask a favor of you.

I’m putting together some testimonials from happy customers for my website. I wondered if you’d take a minute to give me your opinion of my services.

I look forward to learning what you like about my services . . . but I also welcome any suggestions and criticisms, too.

That approach takes pressure off of the client and allows him/her to express his genuine feelings. The authenticity of your testimonials will ring true.


Final Thoughts

The whole point behind using testimonials and credible sources is to demonstrate your honesty. When done right, they’re not salesy. Avoid cheesy hype. It’s a real turnoff.

The best testimonial is often the simplest. “Harry, we loved the job you did designing our new website. Our customers are raving about how easy it is to use.” What could be more encouraging than that?


If you’ve enjoyed this article, or any of the other articles on how to write your blog, please leave a comment. Or tweet this to a friend.

Survival of the Fittest: The Article Copywriting Evolution


I hacked the Albert Einstein Meme  from the Pinterest Page of George Takei – thank you Mr. Sulu.

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