Using Customer Testimonials to Market Your Business
by NicoleD, Former Moderator
- Created: December 28, 2010, 9:37 am
- Updated: May 27, 2011, 1:07 pm
Customer testimonials are a powerful marketing tool for many small businesses. Be sure that you are acting within the law when using customer testimonials in your marketing. Read on for helpful tips and a breakdown of endorsement regulations.
Be sure that your customer testimonials meet fair marketing standards.
- Get written permission. Have your customer sign a written agreement that specifies what content you will be using and how you will be using it. This is particularly important if you want to use photos or information regarding age, name, or location. Typically the more information you can provide about a testimonial, the more believable it will be. For example, assigning a glowing review to an anonymous;satisfied custome- will likely not resonate as much as attributing the quote t- Joe Smith, Allentown P' or 'Betty Johnson, investment banke'.
- Comply with the FT's Truth-In-Advertising guidelines. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides clear guidance on how to practice fair advertising:
- Endorsements must be truthful and not misleading;
- If you do't have proof that the endorse's experience represents what consumers will achieve by using the product, the ad must clearly and conspicuously disclose the generally expected results in the depicted circumstances; and
- If ther's a connection between the endorser and your business that would affect how people evaluate the endorsement, it should be disclosed. This includes relatives and customers who were compensated for their testimonial.
- Address Expectations. Generally, you want your most satisfied customers to provide testimonials. Remember that if a testimonial that claims specific results, other customers can interpret that to mean that they can expect the same results.
If others ca't expect to get those results, the ad likely would mislead consumers. To avoid misleading customers - and violating the FTC Truth in Advertising laws - clearly establish what results consumers can expect under normal circumstances. According to the FTC, disclaimers like Results not typical or Individual results may vary won't change that interpretation, which leaves marketers with two choices:
- Have adequate proof to back up the claim that the results shown in the ad are typical, or
- Clearly and conspicuously disclose the generally expected performance in the circumstances shown in the ad
- Confused? Have more questions? The FTC Endorsement Guides offer more than 35 examples of how endorsements apply in practical settings. The FTC also has produced to-the-point video clips discussing some of the issues on marketers' minds.
Use the following practical tips when approaching customers to provide testimonials:
- Be timely. Ask customers to participate in a testimonial shortly after their transaction is complete. Their memory and enthusiasm will likely fade as time passes.
- Be specific. Ask customers to provide specific examples about your services - for example, discussing how much time/money they saved or a particular part of your customer service approach that appealed to them.
Everyone loves a good review, but what happens when the reviews are unfavorable, negative or even make claims that are downright false? Business.gov provides tips for managing your online reputation and understanding your options and tactics for handling a bad online customer review in the article Managing Your Online Reputation - How to Respond to Customer Reviews.
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