What others think of you is no small part of doing business. It’s everything. Especially for small business people, social media sites like Yelp, Facebook and Linkedin are set up primarily to explain and highlight YOU, your experience, and your philosophy for doing business.
As a professional copywriter, one of the first things I look for when writing about a client for marketing purposes is a list of their professional endorsements. Taking their cue from yesteryear’s hard-copy “letters of recommendation,” today’s endorsements are merely a few sentences or short paragraphs referred to as “third party testimonials.” These glowing words of praise can become key to getting people a sense of what someone else who has been there and done that has to say about you.
While the most convincing testimonials are unsolicited, adding a tab to your web site reserved for nothing but testimonials and endorsements from ANY source not only makes your site more user-friendly and can result in more business through search engine placement as well. Locations for these mini-testimonials are not restricted only to a page of your web site, however. For example, many websites have contact forms visitors fill out and submit. A credible. well-written testimonial placed next to the contact form can be just the extra little incentive a visitor needs to take the desired action. Low quality testimonials are those with no names attached or those with no traceable identities and locations listed – like “Robert C.”.
You can even take testimonials to the next level by interviewing your clients and posting either a written transcript or a video of their success stories on your website. Success stories are really just amplified testimonials, similar to case studies, but reflecting only the good stuff.
According to Lee Polevoi in Intuit.com’ s article, What’s Your Business G-Cred?, “If you’re a consultant or heading a small consulting business, it’s no longer enough to have a web presence.” Polevoi goes on to explain that as a small business person you must establish your G-cred – your “Google credibility” — the information (links, images, and other data) about you people receive when they search Google for their names, businesses, products, or organizations, providing a measure of legitimacy and influencing how seriously potential clients, vendors, and employees take you. This includes numerous, enthusiastic professional recommendations as well as a thriving blog relating to your professional skills to boost your G-cred.
Getting started is easier than you might think. Linkedin is one of the best places to begin. On your Linkedin profile page, there is a link that permits you to ask selected LinkedIn connections to endorse you. If you’d rather not use their canned, pre-worded request, think up one of your own, such as, “To enhance my LinkedIn profile as well as elsewhere for my business profile, I am contacting clients and friends who have used my services in the past to endorse me by writing a few lines about their (hopefully positive) experiences. I appreciate your input and will gladly return the favor should you wish the same.”
If you do hire a copywriter, he or she can conduct phone interviews to get these important tidbits of praise. It’s a numbers game. Whether you get help or not, you won’t get responses from all of them all, since most people are time-zapped, hate to write or simply don’t know what to write. But you’ll get some, and you can copy and use those same testimonials on your web site, on your Facebook business page, on profile pages for networking organizations you belong to and even weave them into your professional bio.
The key is not to worry about offending or inconveniencing people by asking. Testimonials are used all the time by large companies – on TV commercials, in print ads, and even by political candidates. These corporate giants care little about imposing on people when they ask for these endorsements, so why should you? People are actually pleased you would ask and in many cases, feel flattered by it.
Prepare yourself for how great it will feel once you begin this process, though. Once the endorsements come rolling in, you may find yourself gushing like Sally Field during her acceptance speech at an old Academy Awards presentation. “You like me! You really like me!”
An author, columnist and freelance writer since 1997, Dena Kouremetis creates blogs, newsletters, web site content, business bios, company profiles and all manner of content and copywriting help to the small-to-medium-sized business owner. Feel free to visit her web site at communic8or.com.