What Comes Before Testimonials? Guess-timonials!

by Martha Spelman

Whether you’ve been in business for years or are just starting out, it’s good to know what customers are thinking and saying about your business. Understanding what your audience needs…and wants…is crucial to positioning your business. Positioning determines what your business offers, to whom, at what price and whether or not your targeted audience will buy from you.

Frequently, business owners have very little idea if their business is correctly positioned. This may be because no one at the company has done the needed research or the customers haven’t volunteered feedback.

If your business is fortunate enough (and sometimes motivated enough) to have garnered testimonials, congratulations!

If you haven’t collected testimonials, haven’t asked your customers how you’re (really) doing and how satisfied they are with your product or service, it might be time to do a little homework.

Start your homework by creating some “Guess-timonials.” What’s a “Guess-timonial?” Okay, I made it up but it’s a good way to figure out what you’d like customers to say about your company. Think of “Guess-timonials” as sales and marketing goals — make a list of 6–10 “Guess-timonials” that include the value and benefits offered by working with your company — and then go talk to customers.

“Guess-timonials” might sound like this:

“ABC Enterprises provided us with exactly what was promised. They delivered our project by the stated deadline and within the projected budget. As a result of ABC’s excellent work, our company experienced a 30% increase in business.”

“I would highly recommend ABC’s work. ABC was able to pinpoint the system that would most benefit our company, the installation was flawless and their training of our staff was carried out without impacting business.”

“ABC is our go-to expert in their field. Our company was in a crisis situation and we needed someone who could deliver immediately. As usual, ABC was that someone…they rescued us!”

The preference would be to secure customer feedback through an in-person meeting or phone call. If your customer is not available, send an email with a few questions.

Here are examples of questions you could ask:

  • Are you satisfied with the work product or service ABC is delivering?
  • Why do you work with ABC vs. our competition?
  • What would you identify as the strengths of ABC Enterprises?
  • What could ABC do or provide to improve the value of working with us?
  • Are there additional services or products you’d like us to provide?

The hope is that by interviewing your customers, you turn your “Guess-timonials” into actual Testimonials. If customers’ answers are not aligning with your expectations, that’s a good indication that you need to go back and look at your business — are you, in fact, offering what your customer wants and needs — or not?

Communicate with your client and turn “Guess-work” into “Yes!” work.

Think Testimonials would be a good marketing strategy for your business? Contact Martha. Martha Spelman is a Los Angeles-based branding, marketing and strategy expert. Using traditional and online marketing to start and grow businesses, she works with startups, entrepreneurs and small- to medium-size companies. Martha is the author of the content marketing book: The Cure for Blogophobia: How to Easily Create, Publish & Promote Your Business Blog.