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Part 2 – Field Guide

14-Step Guide to Testimonial Advertising

by ENS Media

1.) Look for happy customers that were once unhappy! An unhappy customer who is turned into a happy customer is 20 times more loyal than a customer who has never been unhappy. These converts can be your most passionate evangelists. 

2.) Use real-life believable cases in your testimonials. Extreme cases may be recognized as such, and therefore make your advertising claims unbelievable.

3.) Avoid anonymous testimonials. Where possible, always identify the name and location of the person in your testimonial. Where customers don’t want to use their full names, try to get permission to use their first name and market (i.e. Mary of Hometown…..)

4.) Use testimonials that do not require disclaimers such as “results may vary”. Consumers are wary of ads that have fine print or disclaimers.

5.) NEVER disguise announcers as real customers or experts.

6.) Paid professional announcer testimonials work if the announcer is an actual happy customer. Expect to pay an endorsement fee in those cases, and demand that the announcer does not endorse or voice competitors' ads as part of your agreement.

7.) Seek testimonial experts from relevant fields wherever possible, such as police officers for home security firms or certified arborists for garden centers. Don’t use expert testimonials from unrelated fields (i.e. lawyers for car dealers).    

8.) Always get permission in writing to use testimonials. In the case of employees of firms or institutions, you’re also advised to have written permission from the employer to use the company name in your testimonials (i.e. a veterinarian employed at a veterinarian clinic should get the clinic’s permission to endorse a kennel).

9.) Never create fictitious testimonials.

10.) The average customer may appear unrealistic or phony if they try to read a testimonial script. Capture more natural-sounding testimonials by interviewing customers about why they switched to you or why they do business with you, and then pick and choose the responses which sound the most natural to include in your advertising.

11.) If you are using photos with testimonials in print or online, be sure the photos are complimentary and do not look like mug shots or passport photos.

12.) Make certain you maintain a positive relationship with customers used in your testimonials. Offer them preferred customer benefits and encourage them to sincerely tell your story on social media if they are involved with social media.

13.) Never pay for testimonials on social media. Followers will discover paid testimonials and quickly damage your reputation. 

14.) Make certain your testimonials meet all the legal requirements required by law in your market and the ethical codes outlined by any industry associations.

SoundADvice is a co-production of this station and ENS Media USA to help local businesses increase their sales and their return on investment in advertising. Your SoundADvice marketing tips are emailed to you on our behalf from ENS Media USA.

ENS Media USA's address is: 6523 S. Killarney Ct., Sioux Falls, South Dakota 57108

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