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How to Gather and Benefit From the Power of Testimonials
by Chris King

So often, after we have given one of our powerful presentations, the meeting planner, president of the organization for which we spoke, and/or audience members rush up to congratulate us. They “learned so much!” “You were the best speaker we have ever had!” “Wow! You are a terrific presenter. I am going to use what you shared.” All of these compliments make us feel good, but, unfortunately, don’t help with advancing our speaking career unless we make use of them. In this article, I will share ways to gather and profit from these testimonials. They can become one of your strongest marketing tools.

Don’t be shy. Tape those comments. Always carry a small tape recorder with you and have it handy at the end of your presentation. When the crowd gathers and starts complimenting, ask, “Can I tape that for the record?” You will be surprised how many, if they have enjoyed and learned from your presentation, will be delighted to oblige. Ask them to say their name and position along with the comment. And then make sure that you thank them and get permission to make use of the quotation in your advertising. Most people love to be helpful and to be important enough that you want to quote them. There will be a few that say “no” but even if you only get three or four enthusiastic quotes from a presentation, you are way ahead. As soon as possible, transcribe what is on the tape, while the experience is fresh. You can have a special file on your computer for testimonial comments.

Have chutzpah. Ask for those testimonial letters. A written letter from a credible, well-known organization about the value of your presentation carries more weight than anything you might say to a prospective client. If you don’t pursue receiving a letter, most groups, whether or not they have paid you, and whether or not they thought you were great, will not follow up in writing. Just be bold and ask if they will write a letter. I know speakers who will send a letter of thanks, and ask for a letter of recommendation – on the group’s letterhead – in return. Some suggest sending a couple of worthy letters from other companies as examples. And, I have met speakers who will write the letter for them and ask them to copy it onto their stationery (I must admit, this is a bit farther than I can stretch). Do what you are comfortable with, but do something.

A follow up newsletter article can serve as a testimonial. Most companies, associations and organizations have newsletters. Offer to write a short follow-up article about your presentation covering the important points that you made. Include a short bio. Even without a complimentary statement about your program – which a lot of groups will add – just appearing in print in their publication will serve as a testimonial to your credibility and the beneficial outcomes that followed your presentation. It will even be better if you include a photo along with your submission. If they choose to use it – being a newsletter editor, I love having photos to draw readers to articles – your face will be in their mind.

Now that you have worked to gather these testimonials, use them! You ask, “How can I use these to my advantage.” The quotations you have transcribed from your tapes are perfect for by-lines, for short statements on a one-page fax sheet about you, for inclusion on covers of your video tape and/or book or booklet covers, for brochures and for the bottom of letters. A particularly excellent quote could also appear on your business card. Then, I suggest that you use a yellow highlighter to pull the eye to the best line and/or lines on the testimonial letters. I usually just copy the letters in black and white, but I know speakers who take the letters to be copied on a color copier. It costs more, but the results make the letterheads stand out and look much more professional. Also, have first-rate copies made of your follow-up articles.

Once you have everything ready, it is time to prepare a classy packet. I especially like the slick two-pocket, colored folders with cutouts for your business card. You may even have folders printed with your name and/or logo using your color scheme. The advantage to using these, rather than a costly four-color brochure, is that you can customize each one, sending what you feel is the most applicable for this prospective client. You may include a cover letter, testimonial letters, a listing of clients, a one-page description of you and what your topics are, copies of articles, your fee schedule (some include this, some don’t) along with any other material that you feel is helpful.

Also make use of the testimonials during the down times. No matter how powerful we are as presenters, we all will have some slow times and rejection. With the economy on shaky legs right now, many speakers have been experiencing cancelled programs, fewer calls to them coupled with rejection when they have made calls. It happens to everyone, but tends to dampen our spirits. Pull out those tapes and glowing letters. Listen and read. You will be amazed how quickly your spirits will soar. Use them as a reminder that you are super!

The next time you present, remember to get those testimonials. They are necessary for effective marketing, for clients and for you, also! Get in the habit.

Once you start and realize the benefits, you will wonder why you haven’t been doing this all along.

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