Entrepreneurship | Mike Gouchie

By: Mike Gouchie  09-12-2011

In the marketing profession, it is common practice to collect customer testimonials in order to allow prospects that are considering purchasing your product why others in a position similar to theirs found useful. As much as we try to translate the value of our products to our customer, the customer testimonial is highly effective because for the customer; it mimics asking advice from a friend or a professional contact. To the prospect, words from a customer are real, in that they are not written as part of that person’s job nor to “market” the product. Marketing copy, on the other hand, can be seen as contrived, because it is written with a certain goal in mind and may or may not reflect the writer’s actual opinion. Customer testimonials provide a sense of objectivity in statements made about your product. Customer testimonials, however, will have a stronger impact if you focus on best practice, instead of simply collecting and posting customer testimonials as part of your common practice.

Here are 10 Tips for Effective Use of Customer Testimonials, Customer Testimonial Best Practice:

  • Whether in print or online marketing, do not lump all of your testimonials into one section. Fewer people will read a page of testimonials than will read a testimonial if one is located at the top of every web page, sprinkled throughout your brochure, etc.
  • Draw attention to your customer testimonials by distinguishing them from marketing copy using font, font size, pop-out text boxes, color, etc. If a photo of the customer that authored the testimonial is available, use it.
  • Where possible, guide your customers in providing customer testimonials. Solicit customer testimonials by sending out customer satisfaction questionnaires, and write the questionnaires with customer testimonial goals in mind.
  • On your web site, encourage customers to give you feedback (and acknowledge that what they say be used for marketing purposes). Provide a prominent link to a customer questionnaire, or simply a feedback box. Ask the customer to tell you what they think.
  • Do not edit or alter customer testimonials (aside from technical fixes, such as correcting spelling errors). The most effective customer testimonials are real.
  • Thematically pair customer testimonials with the place where they appear in your marketing collateral. For example, place a testimonial that highlights the ease-of-use of your product next to the section of your website or brochure that addresses ease-of-use.
  • Use bold font, italics, etc. to highlight what you consider to be the main or most attractive point of the customer testimonial. Draw attention to the “thesis statement” of the testimonial.
  • Where possible, solicit customer testimonials in multimedia formats. Photos, videos, etc. are highly effective testimonial formats. For example, the statement “we love our new patio furniture” is made highly effective by a picture of the family enjoying the furniture. A customer testimonial regarding the customer’s satisfaction with their new HR software becomes that much more real in video format.
  • Include the customer’s real identifying information (ask for permission first), such as full name and job title. This highlights the fact that your customer testimonials come from real people, and help the reader relate to the author of the testimonial.
  • Keep your customer testimonials fresh. By collecting customer feedback continuously, you will be able to keep your testimonials in line with any changes in the conditions of your customers’ industry or needs of your customer base.

Vocational courses at community colleges or technical institutes are excellent because they provide students with all the necessary skills to get started in business and often allow them to go to work on day release schemes.

Micro businesses and self-employed people often have access to government funding or grants which are not available to small limited companies or larger enterprises. If the grant will help you to expand your business into new markets which will lead to greater sales and your business being able to employ more people, then you are going to be looked at favourably.

Some industry sectors are so short of skilled people, they will offer bursaries to anyone wishing to study to gain a qualification in their field. Courses and seminars which inspire young people to start up their own company are being run at universities across the country in conjunction with governmental bodies advising on help available through the government.

The overwhelming number of employees in many European countries are not employed by large companies, but thousands of small ones, some no larger than having five to ten employees. Like we saw at the end of the last recession in the late 1980 and early 1990s, it is this type of company that will be responsible for ending the recession by being more flexible and creative than their lumbering giant counterparts.

Continuing Personal Development Throughout Life

You’ve obtained your degree, have started your business and it’s a success – now what? If you want to stay ahead of your competitors you will have to continue educating yourself. Maybe you’ll attend more seminars and courses, maybe you just read a lot about your field of expertise, but the undeniable fact remains that today’s entrepreneur stays several steps ahead of the business rival if he or she takes education for continuing personal development seriously.

Technology changes so rapidly, it is hard to keep up. Legislation in some fields changes equally quickly and can be a minefield, particularly with regard to employment legislation. You cannot possibly be an expert in everything, but keeping up with the times is a good thing. Our brains need stimulation; they’re really like a muscle and need exercising every day.

Courses or seminars should make learning fun. People take time off work – they want to experience something out of the ordinary, otherwise they might as well stay in the office and tackle the filing. Inspiring someone to go out and start their business, or once they’ve done it to start an even bigger one, is the ultimate goal in vocational courses. But sometimes this is also true for courses, workshops and seminars that deal with people’s hobbies or leisure time activities.

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