Testimonials are a great marketing tool for your business. They provide an external opinion about your business which can reassure potential customers and help them make a buying decision. Gathering testimonials from satisfied customers can take a bit of time, but it is well wroth the effort. Keep them in a file together so you can always access them as required. What to do with testimonials Obviously, testimonials make you feel good and can pick you up at times when business is a bit slow. Although this is a legitimate use of testimonials, they are of more use when you share them with potential customers. Testimonials can be included on websites, brochures, flyers, the back of business cards, posters, information sheets, in media releases, advertisements, product packaging and more. In fact, you can be creative and put your testimonial in all sorts of places. You may even find some testimonials can be useful for developing a new tag line or slant for your advertising copy. How to present them Testimonials can be used by themselves, such as a testimonials page on your website or a list you can hand out. For a customer who is looking for some reassurance or a better sense of your business, this list may be useful. However, many people probably wouldn’t take a lot of notice of this page on your site or in an information pack. The more effective use of testimonials is to intersperse them with your main text. For instance, if you sell a range of products, you can have testimonials for each product on the relevant sales page for that product. Customers after only one product will then see the relevant testimonials as they are deciding whether or not to buy from you. Having testimonials throughout your general information makes it more visible and useful. A few well placed testimonials are more convincing than an overwhelming list that includes more information than is required. Naming customers Make sure that all customers giving you a testimonial are aware that you intend to use their words publicly. If any request their name to be presented in a given way, then do so – for instance, many people would prefer to be listed as Mary or Mary A rather than Mary Alexander. Be careful of divulging too much information about your customers. Not only does this violate your customer’s privacy and perhaps their trust in you, it may make other people wary of trusting you with their details. If customers are happy to be contacted as a referral, give those details out as required rather than spreading their email address or phone number everywhere. This is where a sheet of testimonials with some contact details can be useful to have on file to give selected people who wish to hear personal testimonials. If testimonials come from business owners, offer to list their business name as well as their personal name. So a testimonial could be from ‘Tash Hughes of Save Time Online’ instead of ‘Tash Hughes’. This a nice extra for your customer and also makes their testimonial look a little more official and credible if you are offering business services. When adding testimonials to your website, there are extra considerations. For instance, you can hyperlink the customer’s business name to their site rather than just list the name. Of course, this helps increase the page ranking for both sites so it is an advantageous policy. Because of the public nature of the web, don’t include email addresses or phone numbers of people giving you testimonials. Listing their email addresses opens them up to spam, if nothing else, so it isn’t looking after your customers. Tell potential customers to contact you if they want contact details to go with any testimonials. On the other hand, not naming people at all in testimonials reduces their impact. If no name is attached, what differentiates it from your main message? An unnamed testimonial is more likely to be perceived as being written by you and thus of no meaning. Tash Hughes is a professional writer and co-owner of Save Time Online. Found at www.savetimeonline.info this is an information portal for busy people. There are information, tips and links in categories such as business, parenting, health, gift buying and energy conservation.