Speech bubbles - testimonials

How to ask for testimonials

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Asking your clients for praise can be tough. (I’m British, so I should know!) I’ve lost count of the number of times my clients say they don’t ask for testimonials. In fact, I can literally see them cringing when I raise the topic.

However, in my opinion, it’s vital for many businesses, especially if you offer professional services of some kind.  When one person is potentially buying the services of another, these kind of peer reviews can help tip the balance between a potential new client contacting you or not.  They can save you the trouble of arranging references, and for prospects, they can help to de-risk a new relationship.

What’s the secret?

Want to know the secret formula I’ve uncovered in my 20+ years of asking for testimonials?  I ask.  I simply ask the question: “Please can you give me a testimonial?”  It’s that simple.  (The worst they can do is say no, right?)

Obviously, when asking for testimonials, you want to pick your clients carefully (choose the happy ones) and pick the right moment.

In reality, some clients will want you to write something up for them.  I never do this, but I will happily provide some pointers if they need (never putting words in their mouth) about practical details like when we first started working together, the scope of a particular project, the results, etc.

Here are some other tips and options when asking for testimonials from your clients:

  • Give details – if you’re publishing the testimonial, include the full name of the person giving the testimonial, and if it’s a business, include a job title and company name. Doing so helps add credibility (rather than just saying, ‘Mr. M. in Murray Bridge’) and reduces the feeling that a review might be ‘made up.’
  • Ask as soon as possible – if you’ve just finished a project with a happy client – or if they’re starting to see results due to your work – now’s the time to ask. The sooner you do, the better the client will be able to remember specifics about the project and what he/she liked, how you helped the business, delivered value, etc.
  • Consider video testimonials – video testimonials and/or case studies are great. There’s no arguing with them, and they give prospects a chance to hear about your work straight from the horse’s mouth.
  • Ask by ‘not asking’ – still nervous about asking for praise? Instead, ask the client how things are going with your product or service. If they have positive things to say, dig a little deeper, summarise what they’ve told you and ask if you have their permission to use it as a testimonial.
  • Try an email – by asking via email, you can separate yourself a bit from a face-to-face ‘ask’ and streamline the process. Create a basic template in Word that makes the process easy for clients and provides lines for name, company name, job title, location and project, as well as space for writing out details on how you helped solve their problems, offered great service, etc.
  • Ask for a LinkedIn ‘Recommendation’ – these are also a great way to get testimonials.  The system is automated, which can take the sting out of sitting across the table from someone, pen in hand. It’s easy: you send a personal message to one of your contacts asking if they’d mind giving you a recommendation, they write it in the LinkedIn template, you get to review it before you publish, and then it’s there online for all to see on your LinkedIn profile.  Here are some of my LinkedIn recommendations.
  • Facebook Reviews & Google Reviews – these are great places for testimonials, too, so if someone is willing to give you a testimonial or say something nice about you and your business, encourage them to write it on your business Facebook page or Google business page.  Huge kudos for your digital footprint!
  • Repurpose them – if you have other places you want to show testimonials (such as on your website), you can simply copy and paste what your happy clients have already written in email, or your LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google page – just check to make sure clients are OK with this first. Here’s my testimonial page.

(By the way, I promise I’m not showing off by linking to my testimonials – I just thought it would be useful to show how I do it.  Remember, being British means self-publicity doesn’t come as easily to me, although I do work in marketing, after all ….)

Also, one final reminder: be sure to get permission so there aren’t any surprises if a client sees their name and feedback on your website or in print. The last thing you want is to have a happy client become an angry one because of a misunderstanding!

Need help in asking for or displaying testimonials from your clients? Contact Breathe Marketing today.


Anna Nixon-Smith

All stories by: Anna Nixon-Smith