Don’t listen to us – A primer for direct marketers on how TESTIMONIALS can be YOUR sales force

There’s an old adage that says, “The more you tell, the more you sell.” Let’s put a 21st century twist on this. Providing your prospects and customers with solid testimonials from present customers can be a powerful selling force for your business.

Get Psychological
From a psychological perspective, consumers much prefer to hear what their peers are saying. As we get deeper into the age of social media, peer recommendations are becoming the norm as part of a prospect’s evaluation process. No longer are you able to push out messages and have customers buy on impulse. Today’s consumers are extremely sophisticated. They seek out information from many sources beyond a company’s marketing materials before buying decisions are made.

Therefore, companies who provide their customer stories up front are giving themselves an edge over the competition.

You’d be surprised how easy it is to get testimonials from your customers. Here are four tips to help you get started with the process:

  1. In most cases, all you have to do is ask. Have your customer service reps ask everybody they’re on the phone with when they hear a good story. (Believe me, they hear all sorts of stories. The question is: Do they filter up to you?) Have your reps say something like, “Wow, what a great story! Would it be OK to share that with our other customers?” Simple, right?
  2. Scan your database and pick customers from your top RFM cell. Give them a call, send them a letter (of course thanking them for their patronage) and see what happens.
  3. It’s a little trickier to get video and pictures from your customers. But it may be worth adding some sort of incentive for video or pictures. A contest is always a good draw.
  4. Engage your customers on social media sites. Monitor what people are saying about you on your sites. Contact the ones who say great things. Of course, the ones who say not-so-nice things are customer service OPPORTUNITIES waiting to happen when you resolve their issues.

Where to Feature Your Testimonials?

  • On your blog, front and center.
  • Your homepage and all throughout your website.
  • In your emails and email newsletters.
  • How about in your fulfillment packages? People perceive the package they receive from you as a happy thing — a gift even. Psychologically, the payment is forgotten in most cases, leaving just the Christmas morning joy of opening the package. Stick a piece of collateral in there with some testimonials, and it reinforces the sale even further.
  • On your social media sites. Tweet them out. Post them to Facebook. Better yet, ask and your customers will post to Facebook themselves. Many times you’ll receive kudos on Facebook and Twitter you never expected.
  • And of course, in your catalogs.

9 thoughts on “Don’t listen to us – A primer for direct marketers on how TESTIMONIALS can be YOUR sales force

  1. Lisa C. says:

    I love these tips. I’m a writer and somewhat hesitant about blowing my horn, so these will definitely give me a shove and promote myself better.

    Since a writer’s product is different, do you have any advice for us?

    • Jim Gilbert says:

      Hi Lisa, if you don’t blow your own horn, nobody will. You can intersperse testimonials on your blog and site in a tasteful way. The important thing is that your happy clients can sell your services much better than you can.

      Email me at if you would like me to coach you on this.


    • Jim Gilbert says:

      Thanks Anna. You guys are great catalog printers. Tell Smogs and Jim Treis (and Gary from catalog vision) I say hello. Like what you are doing with your new blog too.

      Actually rather than answer your question, let me throw it back on you. How many catalogs are adding testimonials to their their books? And how can you coach them to do so?

      Jim Gilbert

  2. Tracey Holzapfel says:

    Right on the money again, Jim. I’ve had experience with email campaigns where open and response rates double from the “average” when they are testimonials from customers – and even other employees! In print, too – a good testimonial will more than pay for its catalog space.

  3. Laura Chadbourne says:

    Love this post. We are in the process of integrating testimonials in multiple channels and I am giddy at the potential returns. Word of caution, though – we are careful to obtain written releases (or electronic if online) from our customers to reprint / post their testimonials…so if your call center is picking up verbal testimonials from customers, you might want to follow up in writing with customers, too, whether via email or snail mail.

  4. Nicholas says:

    We’ve been using testimonials in our catalogs for a while now. We have begun using product reviews with average star ratings as well. REI and LLBean also use product reviews that I know of.

  5. Debra Jason says:

    I’m a big advocate of using testimonials in your marketing. Since word of mouth is one of the best marketing vehicles we can all use, why not use the words of our customers (as long as they give us permission to do so)?
    Here’s an article I wrote about “Testimonials – Let Clients Praise Your Good Graces.” I hope you’ll enjoy it.

    Thanks Jim for getting this discussion started.
    The Write Direction

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