A beginning copywriter recently asked the question, "How can my client quickly generate testimonials?"
The answer is the same for her client as it is for us: You must develop them!
I must confess that in my own copywriting business I was lazy in this department and had to scramble once I decided to correct my negligence. It's a fact that every couple of months about 10 percent of your business contacts change jobs, get promoted, quit work, or otherwise leave their positions. When that happens, your chance for getting a glowing testimonial from a happy client is gone forever!
So listen up...here are the secrets to painlessly growing your testimonial list:
KEEP A TUNED EAR
Whenever a client compliments your work, ask immediately if you can use the statement as a testimonial. If it's verbal, write it down and send it to the client right away for changes or approval.
Oftentimes a client will compliment you in an email. That's even better. All you do is reply, and ask if you can use the written statement as a testimonial.
If you did a great job for a client, they know it and you know it, ask for a testimonial. If you're on the phone, listen for a slight hesitation. If you discern some reluctance, it's probably not that your client doesn't want to write you a testimonial, but that there's something in the way.
I suspect the number one reason for reluctance is that you've just given your client a "job" to do. Now he has to think and spend time on your behalf, and it doesn't benefit him in any way.
Another "objection" is that he may be intimidated. Many people are poor spellers or insecure about their writing ability in general. And now they're being asked to write something for a professional writer!
You can blast past both barriers by offering to write the testimonial yourself.
My approach is always something like this: "If you'd rather I write it and you edit, I can do that. I'll write it as close as possible to what you just said. All you have to do is approve it or make any changes."
I've never had a client say no to this suggestion. And often I've been able to tell that they were relieved that I assumed the burden.
REACH INTO THE PAST
If you're just starting out in your freelance life and you don't have any testimonials, don't despair. Unless you were born yesterday, you DO have testimonials... they just haven't been written yet.
Clients value more than a successful job. They value
professionalism. They care very much about deadlines. They want to know they're working with a human being who's easy to work with, not some stuffed shirt with a big ego.
Undoubtedly you've found favor in the eyes of those you've worked with in the past. Ask these people for testimonials! They can be past employers, friends you've done work for, even relatives (although it doesn't look so good if they have the same last name).
So think. Who have you helped in the past? Ask them for a testimonial...and if they hesitate, offer to write it for them.
THE LEGAL SIDE
Whenever you get a testimonial, you should also get a signed and dated Testimonial Release. You'll easily find forms on the Internet.
What you want is permission to use the testimonial in any or all of your marketing, and protection against lawsuit for using the testimonial.
You might wonder if a client's permission, recorded in an email thread, will suffice. My guess is that the law would be on your side, but why take the chance? Although I've never heard of a copywriter being sued for testimonial use, copywriters are at risk for lawsuits.
A FINAL NOTE:
Testimonials are worthless unless they carry a full name (no initials!), a company name, and a location. You also want to publish your client's title as well. Testimonials are about credibility. If you don't supply the details, what's the point?
Award-winning copywriter Chris Marlow publishes a free newsletter for freelancers who want to build a successful business. Visit: