The four types of testimonials that get results…

In my previous blog, I gave you a simple overview of testimonials. Today we’re going to dig a little deeper.  In fact, I am going to let you in on a secret that most people don’t know:  There are four types of testimonials and each are used to overcome different objections that potential customers may have.

1.  Benefits:

  • Apprehension to trying a new product/service is a normal reaction, especially in this tight economy.  Many people have to watch how and what they spend their money on, so often they stick with what they know.  With this type of testimonial though, people are not only seeing others buying your product/service but also their opinion.
  1. Objections:
  • When it comes to trying a new product/service, people are not only looking for benefits.  They are also looking for flaws or problems current customers may have experienced.  Nothing is perfect in this world – this includes your product/service.

Example: “I was hesitant on hiring Shannon because she was new to being a Virtual Assistant.  Shannon put my mind at ease by suggesting doing marketing strategy report as a test.  This impressed me because she knew there was hesitation in hiring a new person.  I am so glad she was willing to put herself out there because hiring her was the best thing I did.”

  1.  Personality:
  • This type of testimonial takes the focus away from the product/service and puts it on YOU.  It is important for a potential client to see
    the personality behind the product/service.  It’s like an instant referral for a potential client to see why other clients chose you.
  1. Case Studies:
  • The previous testimonials are so important for potential clients but this one adds the icing to the cake.  Not only are you giving them testimonials but also solid facts about your product/service.  Potential clients want to see upfront exactly how your product/service will further their business. 

I want to share a story with you.  A manager of a very successful restaurant knew the importance of a positive testimonial.  Before every shift, this particular restaurant manager would share these words with his entire wait and hosting staff.  There was not one shift meeting where he did not end with these
words:

“All it takes is ONE negative dining experience to effect daily business in the restaurant industry.  We have ONE chance to show them why we are their top choice when it comes to dining out.  Think about how many people ONE dining guest knows.  For every person this dining guest knows, will equal a negative opinion about our restaurant. It will not stop there because the people told will then tell another person.  Any time after that, if someone mentions our Restaurant that one negative experience will come to mind.”

The Best Way To Get New Clients —

Testimonials are THE best way you can sell yourself and sell your business AND ultimately get new clients.  And the beauty is you are not the one doing the selling, your customers are. And believe me there is no better way than to have other people sell you. Why?

Having testimonials will build your credibility and your believability.  They create support for you and your business. And if you have a great product or a service you totally deserve these kudos from having testimonials.

What are testimonials going to do for you?  Let’s say you have a prospect that is hesitant to buy or they’re nervous about giving you their hard-earned money. A great testimonial is going to overcome both of those issues.  It’s going to reduce their anxiety and create excitement for them to buy from you when they actually can see what you’ve done has helped others.

Is there a difference between feedback and testimonials? Yes. They do overlap and both are great for your business. However, feedback is a more informal way to obtain information on your product or services. Maybe you have a comment section on your web site or encourage your customers to send you comments via email. This information is always helpful to you with plans for new products or services and goals for the future.

Testimonials are more structured. There are certain elements crucial to a terrific testimonial.  Obviously they have to be believable, so you don’t want them to be too outrageous and too out there. They can address an objection. They can address the benefits of your products or services. They can be case studies. They can talk about your character or your personality. They have a specific outcome.

And about a specific outcome, I want you to be aware of the FTC guidelines that came out last year.  There are specific guidelines on how you can write your testimonials, especially if your testimonial is based on specific outcomes people have received by using your product or service.  I would totally recommend getting the report written by Peter Hoppenfeld about FTC testimonials. Read it and get to know it so you know better how to use testimonials in your business.

An obvious way to get testimonials for your business is to do a quick survey. Always ask for their full name.  My rule is ask for as much information as you can.  Their full name, their city, their state.  Ask for their website, their business name, if they have an occupation or their job title. The more information you have about your testimonials, the more believable they will be for you and for the people who read them.

Tune in next week to read about the different kinds of testimonials.

Commit to Your Plan to Create Success

I was recently listening to a panel discussion made up of several well known marketing experts and one of the panelists said something that really jumped
out at me.

The panelist was Jay Conrad Levinson who is known as “The Father of Guerilla Marketing.”  He said that he believed “…a mediocre marketing program with commitment will always prove more profitable than a brilliant marketing program without commitment. Commitment makes it happen.”

As soon as I heard that I knew he was right… but I was not really sure why.  So I thought about it for a while and came to a conclusion.

Commitment is when you—

Create a marketing program – good or bad – and then commit to it.

Include the message in all your communication.

Know everyone in your organization follows the program.

Give your customers the same marketing message from you over and over for a long period of time.

Send regular emails, or a newsletter, or have a blog.

Then something happens…You create consistency. This consistency then creates a feeling of trust for you in your customers.

A few weeks ago in my post The “Oprah Factor” and how you can create your own “ X Factor” I talked about the trust that Oprah’s fans feel with her and how this led to very strong and deep emotions they felt about her and this in turn led to the tremendous influence her opinions have on her audience.

Let’s face it.  There is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now.  Your customers are craving consistency and dependability.  They are looking for people to do business with they can rely on.

What you need to do is to develop a strategic marketing plan and commit to it.

If you haven’t created one, or I you’re not sure where to start with developing a marketing plan, I always suggest of course surveying your customers.  Even a very short questionnaire with one or two questions about what they are worried about, what keeps them awake at night, or struggling with right now in their business, will give you a great starting place to build your marketing plan.  Here’s where you can get more info and examples about surveying your customers.  www.createamazingsurveys.com/replay.html

And if you need more help, this is what I do with my clients— create marketing roadmaps/plans for them so they can have a more successful business.  Click here for more info. www.marketingimplementer.com/uploads/Find_Hidden_Money_Article_App.pdf

Whose Shoes Are You Walking In?

Your customers, (this includes those that have not bought anything from you but who have read your blog and subscribed to your newsletter or visited your website) look to you for help, motivation, advice, entertainment, and valuable information.

To really do this effectively you have to walk in your customers shoes.

Everyday I encounter businesses that really miss the mark on this.

One way to really get this is to BE your customer.  Go to your website, cruise it like a potential customer, sign up for your optins. Even better, get your friends, colleagues, and those that work for you to do the same.  Have them document what they see and how they feel during the experience.  There’s a lot to be said about doing this. In fact there’s a huge business that focuses just on that and it’s called “mystery shoppers,” having someone pose as a potential customer and they document their experience. This works well in bricks and mortar places like dentist offices or doctor’s offices.  By doing this, you will be very surprised by the results.  In fact, you could take it one step further and create a short survey for anyone to answer who you ask to go to your website, your newsletter, etc., and get them to document their experience on your survey. For more information about surveys and how to use them to make more money in your business— www.CreateAmazingSurveys.com

What I would recommend is that you start paying closer attention to your own everyday encounters with other businesses, colleagues, bosses, or clients that are either less than satisfactory or extremely pleasant. Really be aware of your own thoughts and reactions when you are annoyed or frustrated or if you find yourself very impressed.

Anytime you encounter something that starts to make the little hairs on the back of your head stand-up, stop and think about why.  What is causing your reaction?  It could be something that seems to be very small but is in actuality significant.

Maybe you are trying to download a free report and you are being asked to fill out a lengthy form to get it.

Or you sent and email to someone and they only responded back with one or two words because they are on their mobile device.

Or you get asked for your zip code at a particular store every time you buy something, even a pack of gum.

Or you visit a website for the first time and immediately get a popup asking you to rate your experience before you even have a chance to look at the site.

Now think about what the other party could have done to make the encounter better for you and really make you eager to return or do business with them again.

Could they have given you just a bit more information that would have been helpful?  Could they have answered your question themselves rather than just pointing you to a document
or FAQ?

Could they have listened to you more carefully to better understand your situation?  Could they use less jargon on their web page to make it easier to understand?

Now go back to your own business and look at every place you interact with your customers, colleagues, bosses, employees, and others.  Really pay attention to how you present
yourself, your information, and advice.  Are you really providing the best possible experience?  Are you really avoiding the mistakes and behavior that annoy you when you are the customer?

Don’t make yourself difficult to do business with.

Let’s face it.  Standards seem to be dropping everywhere you go.  The real key to creating a successful business is paying close attention to what your customer’s experience is with your business…  This is a real opportunity for you to shine and create an amazing experience for your customers.  That is the best way to stand out from your competition and create a much more successful business.

Are You a Guest Blogger?

Let’s take a step further and talk more about a terrific technique for developing content – it’s guest blogging on other sites and inviting guest bloggers to your site.

This technique allows you to get fresh content for your site without taking up a big amount of your time. It’s all about leveraging other peoples content.  At the same time if you are guest posting on another blog you can repurpose a post or article from your archive.  You are in front of a new audience so to them it will be a brand new post.

Guest posting shows that you are connected to other experts in your field and also helps build your credibility.

When you bring in a guest blogger you bring in new insights and points of view and this will often be enough to wake your readers up and move them to reply and interact with you.  And if you can get one or two people who are fairly prominent in your field you can really hit a home run.  Not only will your readership go up because they will promote their guest spot on your blog but your credibility level will go up.

So how do you find places to guest blog?

You probably already know people from events and networking that have blogs that would be appropriate.  Or do a search and find a blog that is similar to your business niche.

Then call or email the blog owner and request permission to write a guest article.  Be sure to send them a link to your website so they can easily review your site. If the blog owner agrees, make sure you can have one link to your website. The key though is to place your website link at the end of your article, preferably below your name, and not in the body of the article. And this alone will drive traffic to your site.

Of course if you like the blog you are requesting to guest on it would also make sense to offer that blogger a guest spot on your site as well.  Then you have immediate fresh content for your blog.

I really love this technique and I have gotten my biggest bumps in traffic on my websites immediately after I have been a guest poster on other blogs.  Just being a new entity creates a lot of curiosity and you will see a lot of people clicking your link to check you out.

So now you will have many people viewing your great content.  You will grow your list and ultimately add new customers to your business!

You created a blog… Now What?

The beauty of blogs is that you don’t need to invest in software to maintain it.

Blogs are maintained online and so you can access them anywhere and at any time, as long as you have an Internet connection. You just sign in to your blog account and you can create a post, edit post, change blog template, customize your blog and change blog settings easily.

It is also very easy to add a lot of cool tools to your blog like an opt-in or subscription form so if you don’t already have a list it is a great way to start.  If you already have a list it’s also a great way to continue to build your list.

Ideas of things to put on your blog besides articles:

  • Video is really easy to publish on your blog and is another great way to get noticed by the search engines. Google loves video.
  • Go to blinkx.com and find a video on a topic that’s in your niche that you like and insert the video with a commentary on your blog. You can also go to YouTube.com and do the same thing.
  • Have a guest blogger write an article one week for you.
  • Review a product or service.
  • Do a frequently asked questions.
  • Search ehow.com or ezinearticles.com for some ideas.

Another cool thing about blogs is each post you create is assigned with different URL address which means they each will have their own and separate web page. This is just one reason blogs are great for getting noticed by the search engines.

Position yourself as an expert! Plus not only does a blog help you get attention and traffic.  Your blog positions you as an expert and builds your credibility.  Plus a little human touch goes a long way to building trust.  See my previous posts about Oprah to learn why that is important.

Let me know when you have your blog up and running.  Post a link to it in response to this post and share it with everyone here.  I would love to see it.

What is a blog, really?

I’ve had this blog for 4 years now, which is totally hard to believe… and it’s been a terrific tool for me and my business.  So I thought it would be helpful to give you some tips about what a blog is and how to best take advantage of it in your business..

Blogs have gained a lot of notoriety in this techno world we live in because in an instant you have access to information on almost any subject or question you might have. And I know you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet but it’s all about adding value and giving terrific content.

What is a blog? Blog by definition is a shortened form of weblog (“web” as in Internet and “log” as in journal). So basically it is a diary of sorts of words, pictures, audios, and videos for public viewing.

Why blog? Businesses use blogs to share ideas, concepts, expertise, knowledge, experience, help, support and ultimately to help promote their business on the World Wide Web.

But as you might guess, not all blogs are successful. You have to have good content that people will actually want to read about. But this content above all can’t be boring or be to over promotional or too salesy. You need to add a splash of humor, show your personality, and use real life personal stories to capture your audience’s attention, as well as even entertain them.

So your blog posts are about your business, tips and tricks, techniques and good advice sort of things that are specific to your niche. In doing this you need to carefully choose keywords to describe these posts so they will rank high with the search engines.

Here’s a free tip for you.  One of the most frustrating things about blogs I find is figuring out what to write from week to week. Ideally you want to have at least 1 post a  week and at most 2 to 3 posts in a week.  So figuring out what to write can be cumbersome and you could wind up with the blank page syndrome.

Here’s a terrific idea that will totally help you — Get your readers to write your blog for you.  You can do what my friend and client Jeff Walker did when he was creating his blog. He used a survey to find out exactly what his customers wanted to read about. He got so many ideas I’m sure he won’t have blank page syndrome for a long time! How did he get so many responses on his survey? He had a contest. If you helped him name his blog and give him some ideas, the winner would get an iPad. This is a terrific tip that everyone ought to be using in their business— ASK your prospects and your clients what they want to learn more about, ask them what their biggest challenges are, start the conversation with them by doing a survey.

And blogs that are more recent and updated regularly are the favorites of the search engines.

Does your business have a blog? If you do, terrific, then why not get your list to help you figure out what to write. If you don’t have one, then check out Blogger.com (blog.com) or WordPress.com and start a free blog with them. This is also an awesome way that you can drive more traffic to your website by having a blog.

Keep in mind your posts don’t have to be long, just 200 – 400 words.

Here’s to happy blogging!

Do You Ever Long to Feel like You Belong Somewhere?

I’m writing from the train, heading home to New Jersey. I’m on the way back from a business training meeting that was in Baltimore. (As an aside, riding in business class is the best way to ride up and down the east coast- no worries of gas or traffic!) To be honest, I wasn’t totally looking forward to working the whole weekend, yet I was so pleasantly surprised at what happened.

Going there, I honestly had no expectations. I was ready to learn and discover new ways to help promote a business I’m working on with one of my clients. The weekend of discovery and training turned out to be one of the best meetings I’ve attended in a while.

At this meeting I had the best sense of being a part of a wonderful organization. It was a small meeting- only about 70 people. I was surrounded by incredibly smart, funny, and the nicest people you could ever want to spend a weekend with. In fact I was able to have some great chats with Bill Glazer, President of Glazer Kennedy Insider’s Circle, and was inspired by Karen Schaefer, who has a fast-growing info-marketing business involving real estate investors, real estate brokers and agents, and consumers: ‘Simple Appeal’, the premier nationwide “staging company” assisting homeowners in presenting their homes to obtain top dollar from buyers http://www.simpleappeal.com/

I’m leaving my meeting with such great connections and this wonderful feeling of belonging to a group of like-minded, motivated and successful people. Most, if not all of the people in the room, were incredibly successful entrepreneurs. I discovered a lot of great ways to promote my client’s business and things I can even use in my own. Yet the biggest lesson for me was how much I so enjoyed feeling like I belonged with these people. I knew being an entrepreneur was going to have its ups and downs. And for the most part I’ve very much enjoyed my ride to date. The only things that gets in my way at times is spending too much time in my home office and not enough time with like-minded entrepreneurs.

My suggestion to you it look for ways to join some like-minded groups of people. Don’t miss out on belonging somewhere and collaborating and brainstorming with fellow like-minded business people. Seek out a Ladieswholaunch or a local Glazer-Kennedy Insider’s Circle Chapter or Mastermind Group. This group is all around the country and you can check out this map to see one that’s closest to where you live. Don’t wait. Do this now- schedule an event, go check out a new meeting. You’re not alone. We’re all seeking out friend, colleagues and ultimately our own financial freedom. [digg=http://digg.com/business_finance/Do_You_Ever_Long_to_Feel_like_You_Belong_Somewhere]

If money wasn’t an issue… what would you do for fun?

When I was going through a difficult time in 2004, after just being laid off yet again… I met the most wonderful person that really helped me during that difficult time. Her name is Tama J. Kieves and she wrote this fantastic book called- This Time I Dance! Creating The Work You Love (which was just published in a new edition.) A friend I met at an unemployment seminar mentioned Tama to me and asked if I wanted to tag along to a seminar she was giving.

It was the best thing I could have done at that time for myself. Tama is such a dynamic speaker and her story is so inspirational of how she was a Harvard Lawyer and left her corporate job to discover her creative self and develop the livelihood that stirred her soul and paid the bills. I remember sitting in my chair and taking lots of notes and really paying attention to writing down the answers to her fabulous questions like- “if money wasn’t an issue- write down all the things I’d do for fun and that inspire me.” I’ve done this exercise a few more times since then and it’s a wonderful thing to do. If you haven’t tried this yet, I’d encourage you to do it. It’s a bit different from the question- “if you had all the money in the world what would you do with it?” Her question got to a deeper meaning within because I was able to write about what brings me joy and fun and entertainment and the list for me was long! And through that I was really able to focus on what my gifts are and I what my ultimate passion was that would fuel me in my new found career outside of corporate America.

Here’s a photo of Tama and I from last month when I attended her seminar in Montclair, New Jersey.

I realized I have many, many interests and passions. So my work was trying to simply narrow them down so I could get started and do something! Hence I ended up starting my Marketing Implementer business and in turn have helped many new and current business owners and entrepreneurs not only turn their businesses around, but see how they can use their passion in their business and also focus on areas they can reinvent themselves and create more income. Then of course I’m also going down some other paths, with contributing to a book that will be published in June and writing a chapter in another book that will be coming out in the fall. And I’m also focusing more efforts on my photography business and on my coaching women in transition business. I told you I had a lot of passions!

I hope you can gleam from these musings a little inspiration to pay attention and focus on what you love to do. It’s not too late to take your hobby and transition it into a business. “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” This is another one of my favorite quotes. Take a pen out now or open up a word document and start typing the answer. If I can do it- I know you can too! Let me know what’s working for you or if you need any help- I’m here!

P.S. It’s been 23 days since my operation and I just got the ok to wear this really stylish (not!) orthopedic sandal now. So no more boot, and in another week I can wear shoes again- yeah! I feel back to myself now and promise to get back to my weekly posts. [digg=http://digg.com/business_finance/If_money_wasn_t_an_issueh_what_would_you_do_for_fun]

Are You Drowning Trying to Get it all done yourself?

Here’s a hot button topic that is making its way back into business news this week… I have to be honest and say that I struggle with this myself. How do I figure out what I can do versus what I can hire other people to do for me?

And I can take this one step further this week, because I had to have some minor surgery on my right foot to repair an old running injury. The bottom line is I have to be off my feet for 7-12 days- no driving, no walking- just bed rest- yikes! And I won’t be walking or much less running for at least 4 weeks- double yikes! Talk about needing help. Now this is taking asking for help to the extreme. Yet, I found that I’m not the kind of person that will ask or even accept help very easily. Now that I’m laid flat out with my feet up, I need help, so it’s been a great lesson for me on finding that balance of accepting and asking for help. (Photo- Me and Lily getting some bed rest.)

When we take this into the business realm, there are a million ways to go about this exercise of delegating your work and hiring other to help you. One way that I know of that’s worked for me is to figure out how much my time is worth- what’s my hourly rate if I were to do this myself? Then go to websites like www.guru.com , www.elance.com , www.sologig.com or www.craigslist.org and see what the going rate is if you hired someone else do to the job for you. These websites are a beautiful thing. You can post the job you have and everyone bids on it and you have a wonderful range of people who will basically do the work for very reasonable amounts of money.

The real trick here is if your hourly rate that clients pay you is over $175 an hour, and you’re taking time out of your day to do simple tasks like input data into your client database, or schedule client calls, if you went on elance or guru you could probably get someone to do either of these tasks for much less than $175 an hour. The key here is to spend your time wisely on what you do best and what will bring you the most bang for your buck and your hourly rate. Hire someone to take care of things that will free up your time so you can spend it on more important things to grow your business.

When you’re in business for yourself, the best thing you can do is think smarter about how you’re running your business. You need to use your talents to your best ability. Hire out others to do the things you know you have no business doing yourself. There’s a terrific book by Tim Ferris, The Four Hour Workweek that I read a few months ago. I would highly recommend you read it, if you haven’t already and implement what he says into your business. He does an excellent job of explaining his whole philosophy about delegating, automating and simplifying your business. Plus he gives you a ton of great resources. Check out his website- www.fourhourworkweek.com

Consider this a wake-up call to be more productive in your business. Hire others to help you, so you can grow your business into the incredible money making machine that you deserve. I’ll be cheering you on from my couch in the coming weeks! [digg=http://digg.com/business_finance/Are_Your_Drowning_Trying_to_Get_it_all_done_yourself]