Last week, I talked about everything you always wanted to know about securing customer testimonials. But once you have them in hand, it's what you do with them that really counts.

What follows are seven ideas for using testimonials in your marketing mix.

1. Create a “What People Are Saying…” report. I once heard the story of an independent consultant who, after pitching a project, was asked for his resume. Instead of sending his resume, he made copies of all the testimonials people had sent him (hundreds), put them in a shoe box and forwarded them along.

Needless to say, he got the project.

Create your own “What People Are Saying…” report by collecting copies of your best testimonials and giving them to prospects. This will become a very powerful marketing tool for you.

2. Post testimonials on your website. Scatter testimonials from customers all over your website. Many webmasters make the mistake of creating a testimonial page and putting all the testimonials on one page. Instead, scatter testimonials throughout. If you have testimonials pertaining to a specific product, place those testimonials under that product.

Another great area to place testimonials on your website is on the right and left borders. They will serve as a constant reminder of your credibility. If you have a sign-up page of any sort, consider including a testimonial that talks specifically about what you are asking your visitor to sign up for, whether it be your newsletter or access to special information.

3. Always include a testimonial in your advertising. You'll never see an ad for a weight loss product without a testimonial. Why? Because those advertisers know that people are skeptical of all ads (not just weight loss ads) and testimonials overcome skepticism more than any other marketing tool.

4. In every direct mail piece you send, include one or two pages full of testimonials. This gives automatic credence to whatever offer you are sending. You can make the testimonials a part of the sales letter. But from my experience, sending separate pages of testimonials make a persuasive statement.

5. Include customer testimonials on an audiotape. It's one thing to read a testimonial but entirely another to hear a real live person. Better yet, include the pictures and bios of those people on the tape in your mailer. I know of one marketer who sells information products who includes an audiocassette tape with his sales letter. All the audio tape contains is a recording of customers praising his product. It's powerful.

6. Prepare joint endorsed mailings. If you have an associate that has customers who might be good prospects for what you sell, ask if he would like to participate in a joint endorsed mailing in which your associate would send a letter to his customers endorsing (giving testimony about) you and your products and services. In return, send a letter to your customers endorsing your associate's products and services. It's a win-win.

7. Do an endorsed-referral letter promotion. This tactic is similar to the idea above, but the promotion is done with your customers. Hold a contest of some sort and award prizes (incentives) to those customers who send in the names and addresses of three friends who they know who would benefit from your products or services. Then send each of the three friends a letter with the testimonial of the person who referred them.

Launching a “Testimonial Drive”

Chances are, you have not been diligent in asking for customer testimonials.

Launch a “Customer Testimonial Drive” and set a goal to obtain 100 customer testimonials within the next three months. Put a gauge on the wall if you have to, but start today. Draft your testimonial request letter and send it out this week. Then start following up on your requests by phone next week.

Testimonials are a powerful tool in helping you to break down your prospects' skepticism and fear. When customers offer a testimonial, it works to solidify your relationship with them because they are publicly supporting your business.

Ask for testimonials from your customers as soon as they purchase your product or service. Ensure that their testimonial is very specific. Always get a picture of your customer to use with your testimonial. Don't forget to thank your customer for pledging their public support for your business. Find innovative ways to integrate your customer testimonials into your marketing program.

Now…what are you waiting for?

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David Frey is a long-time marketer.