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National Clothesline
Getting testimonials from customers
Getting customer testimonials are paramount in the advertising industry. Customers and prospects respond favorably to people like themselves commenting on businesses that they patronize.
Using customer testimonials in your store promotions, advertising and social media will truly
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increase your overall sales.
So why is this marketing technique used relatively rarely by business?
I think one of the reasons is that business owners do not know who to ask for quotes. So that’s the first thing to clear up.
Basically you can ask anyone who has a legitimate, authoritative opinion about your cleaners. If someone obviously should have an opinion, then you can certainly ask them for their opinion.
Here are the more common prospects to consider when seeking a testimonial or usable contribution:
• Your customers.
• Friends in management positions or in other positions of recognized authority, such as accountants, doctors or politicians.
• Experts in the drycleaning industry (state or national associations, etc.).
• Anyone who runs a consulting, real estate, or insurance firm; they are always looking for exposure and the public sees them as experts.
• People who are sufficiently well known and routinely get such requests and have an established system for handling them.
• Editors of your town’s newspaper, magazines or industry publications.
You have or can make plenty of opportunities to talk to people in most of these categories. So asking them for their opinion on a specific question concerning your business can be pretty natural.
Take advantage of these opportunities to pop the question and see what raw testimonials you can harvest just shaking the tree a little bit.
Other people who you’d like to ask may or may not be in your circle of regular contacts. Don’t despair. If they are well known, they’re no doubt use to such requests. They may have a publicist, secretary, or assistant who handles requests for testimonials. Just call or ask around until you find out what the correct approach is.
With celebrity endorsements, you may want to suggest some simple phrases or quotes that they can consider using if they do not have the desire to write their own testimonial.
Also, make sure you describe the context and type of advertising that you will be using their quote or endorsement in, with specific references to how neatly and professional you will present it and how many people you expect to see the testimonial.
When you approach a well-known individual for a quote, your odds of success are a lot lower than when you approach your own customers.
Also, the turnaround is going to be considerably slower. Just keep trying, you’ll probably line up one or two at a minimum. Even if you don’t, customer quotes are often more believable and more compelling than celebrity endorsements anyway.
Don’t be too pushy when asking people for quotes. Some people just don’t feel comfortable lending their names.
Don’t bug these types of people. For every one of them, there is another person who loves your cleaners and likes taking part in anything that brings exposure. They are out there for the finding. And so few people ask for their contributions that they will probably be honored when you ask.
Stay far away from people who raise the question of payment. Anyone who wants to know how much you would be willing to offer isn’t thinking about the opportunity in a helpful way. They are trying to milk the situation for a few bucks. These are not your advocates.
These are the same people who will come up with ideas to bother you for money in the future. Also, you will not get a truly objective testimonial from them.
So when you run into someone who wants to profit from your request to write a testimonial, just kindly thank them and back out as gracefully and as quickly as you can.
So now what do you ask for?
Make the request as specific as possible. Specificity makes your request easier to answer and less easy to object to. Specific requests include:
• The person’s opinion of your cleaning service.
• A description of how he or she used your cleaning service (drycleaning, laundry, alterations, etc.).
• The person’s view of the drycleaning industry as a whole.
• Information about which of your services this person (or their family) uses on a regular basis.
• Why he or she goes to your cleaner versus someone else.
• What he or she thinks the best part of your cleaner is.
• Who he or she would recommend your cleaner to.
• What type of service he or she would recommend.
The less you know someone, the more specific you want to be with your request. You can always ask a close friend for a reference, and they’ll generally say, “Sure, what do you want me to say?” But people you know more causally are not likely to be as easy to work with. To them, a general request for a favor like that may seem inappropriate or difficult. So be more specific as you work outward from your immediate circle of friends and associates.

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Neil Schroeder has been in the marketing industry for the past 15 years. He is president and creative director of the Golomb Group, developing direct response, social media, in-house promotions and web site campaigns for drycleaners throughout the nation. He can be reached by phone at (800) 833-0560, by email at neils@golombgroup.com or on the web at www.golombgroup.com.
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