Spread Word of Mouth Through Testimonials

How to Collect Real Life Experiences That Evoke Emotion and Referrals

When you tell others about your good experience you give testimonial. Stories are the most powerful referral source. Here's how to elicit them. Getty Images

The economy is driven on word of mouth. People seek out referrals and ask for references all the time from friends, families, neighbors and their online communities. The referral is a story and if it is a good story, that is one that results in business, well then it is a testimonial waiting to happen. Testimonials are the life-blood of the healthcare business. In this article you'll learn how to spread word of mouth through testimonials.

People want to learn from others' experiences. Getting information quickly, and with minimal effort, can speed a referral, appointment or purchase.

Who You Are Will Determine What You Need

In aging services, you need to first determine who your customer is to determine the type of testimonial that will influence them. If you are a nursing home, a discharge planner is your prime customer so a testimonial from a discharge planner who loves working with you will go a long way. An adult day center on the other hand, may be targeting caregivers or an elder directly so testimonials from family members and the users of the service work too.

Ask yourself – “What action do I want them to take after reading the testimonial?”

Ask for the Testimonial

Two tenets of negotiating that I employ are “you can do better than that” and “It doesn’t hurt to ask.” Let’s take the latter. So ask for the testimonial. As customers reflect on the value they derive from your company and its services, it reinforces their appreciation of that value.

And testimonials also are a marketing research tool, providing you with the opportunity to learn what your customers found most valuable. So ask.

Be Transparent

Privacy concerns, HIPAA and all that good stuff have people on edge so be upfront on what you expect from someone giving a testimonial and how you will use it.

Increase their comfort level.

Help Them Craft It

Make it easy for someone to give a testimonial by offering assistance. Give customers a list of questions or an example of the type of testimonial you are seeking. Some people will feel better just talking it out with you. And there is nothing wrong with interviewing someone, drafting a testimonial and having them review and approve. Have them tell others specifically how they benefited so people can relate.

KISS – Keep It Short Stupid

Individual testimonials tend to be just one component of a marketing effort. If they're too long or too complex they lose their value. People will not read them.

Effectively Use Your Testimonials

We worked with one client where we favored using video testimonials as they conveyed the emotion we were seeking. These found their way to various and specific web pages, in blogs and then with further editing were used in TV spots. Get the most bang for your buck by placing strategically. We also used the audio only for radio spots and the transcribed testimonial yet in other ways.

Before people contact you they will search the Web to find out what others have to say. Where do your customers turn for information? Make sure those testimonials show up as tweets, Facebook posts and on LinkedIn where appropriate.

Prospects don't always trust the truthfulness of testimonials. So be sure they are authentic. Use real names and if not using video make sure to use photos. Make them quantifiable by putting hard numbers in them whenever possible. And make them specific.

Effective customer testimonials are a big part of your marketing program so tell prospects exactly what's in it for them when they choose you. Have them apply the testimonial to their own lives.

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