How to get the best testimonials

3 different strategies, plus the one that works best!

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

Someone looking for the exact kind of thing you have to offer stumbles upon your page online. They’ve never heard of you, they’re not sure if you’re legit, or if they can trust you.

Then they see it — the words between two quotation marks, singing your praises. And that’s all they needed to be convinced that they want to work with you.

How do you get that kind of testimonial…the kind that is so well-written and persuasive, it could move mountains?

There’s more to it than a simple ask.

3 kinds of testimonial requests

There are 3 different ways to ask for a testimonial. I’m not talking about questions or direct phrases, I’m talking about three distinct strategies.

To make them easy to remember, let’s compare the three strategies to three different ways to cook a meal:

  1. From scratch
  2. From a recipe with defined ingredients
  3. From a frozen pre-cooked meal

1. From scratch

The idea here is that you ask your endorser to cook up a testimonial from scratch. Using his own ingredients, you let him write whatever he wants to write — freeform!

This request sounds something like this:

Hey Dwight,
It’s been so great working with you, and I really value your opinion as a client. Would you be willing to write me a testimonial for my webpage?
Thanks so much in advance!

This one, in my humble opinion, is the least effective.

One reason: you’re asking Dwight to do a lot of heavy lifting — to think of what you’ve done, why you’re great, and word it perfectly. Have you ever tried to sit down and write out why someone’s great in a short, snappy quip? It’s especially tough if you’ve worked together for a long time in a variety of ways.

Another reason: Meanwhile, you sit back and hope that whatever Dwight writes for you will be a pleasant surprise that really captures the parts of your work that you’d want to highlight in a testimonial.

The thing is, when you don’t give your endorser any ingredients to include in the testimonial, you can’t guarantee that the testimonial will be something that supports your personal marketing strategy. Not everyone is a great writer.

If you are the type of person who likes to leave things up to chance, I’d recommend going with this strategy.

2. From a recipe with defined ingredients

For this one, imagine your testimonial is a dish and you’re giving your endorser a cookbook recipe with ingredients you want to include.

This request sounds something like this:

Hey Phyllis,
It’s been so great working with you, and I really value your opinion as a client. Would you be willing to write me a testimonial for my webpage?
To make it easier for you, I’ve included a few things I’d love for you to mention:
1. The problem I solved for you — stagnant growth for the past 2 years.
2. How effective I was as a marketer and what kind of results I produced for you with the growth strategy I created.
3. What made me better than other marketers you’ve worked with (if anything stood out).
Thanks so much in advance!

Because of the nature of these prompts, it’s important that you know, for sure, that this endorser really valued the work you did for her.

This one, again in my humble opinion, is the most effective. You provide a little structure, but then let Phyllis use her natural voice to tie it all together. You’ll end up with the key ingredients that you feel are absolutely necessary to include, while leaving room for her to add personal praises.

The key ingredients for your testimonial recipe are:

  1. The problem you solved for your endorser.
  2. The results you produced for your endorser.
  3. Why you’re better than others in your industry.

You can fill that outline in with specific details in your testimonial request if you have them. As a result, your endorser will end up whipping together an authentic testimonial that includes what you want to say, along with what she wants to say.

3. From a frozen pre-cooked meal

This one requires the least amount of effort from your endorser. Think about it — a frozen meal has everything already prepped. All your endorser has to do is pop your pre-cooked testimonial in the oven and give it his blessing. On the plus side, the testimonial will be exactly what you expected. But like a frozen meal, it may be a little stale and lack the delicious zest of a freshly prepped meal.

This request sounds something like this:

Hey Stanley,
It’s been so great working with you! Would you be willing to endorse me? I want to respect your time because I know you’re very busy, so I pre-wrote a testimonial that you can simply sign off on if it looks good to you!
“Pam is one of the best designers I’ve ever met. Her marketing background made her designs so effective because she was able to see both the big picture and the intricate details. From the get-go, she jumped right in and worked extremely well with our marketing team to produce stunning designs for everything from our homepage to our sales materials. Sales have gone up 15% since she worked her magic. I’d highly recommend her!”
Feel free to make any changes or additions you’d like.
Thanks so much!

If you’re an excellent persuasive writer and you know exactly what kind of testimonial you want for your webpage, this is a great route to take! Since your endorser won’t have to create something from scratch, it also won’t take as long for you to get a solid testimonial for your page.

For many of us (including myself), praising ourselves and writing our own testimonial is an awkward struggle. Personally, I’ve gotten the best results by using the recipe strategy. It allows you to strike a healthy balance between facts that you want to include and your client’s opinions in his own words. I’ve found that it produces the most specific, effective, and authentic testimonials.

Which strategy has worked best for you?

  1. From scratch
  2. From a recipe with defined ingredients
  3. From a frozen pre-cooked meal

Let me know in the comments below 👇

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Contributed by Melissa Brown | Melissa is one of many cheerful humans at about.me! When she’s not doing product marketing & customer success for about.me, she’s helping people with their careers! Check her out on about.me: about.me/melissabrown