Testimonials that make you ‘cough’

My kids have introduced ‘coughing’ as a method of exclaiming disbelief.  It’s no normal cough; it’s an unpalatable one, usually masking a hidden word of scepticism (I’m sure the word that has sprung to mind in your head is not one encouraged in my house).

After spending a night of wild story telling – and coughing – it’s a difficult habit to drop when meeting with a client the next day; particularly when discussing their service benefits or the range of endorsements that they have collected over the years.

“We really enjoyed working with Dan.  He always returns our phone calls and gets the job done.”


“Thank you for helping us to achieve our goals.”

Cough cough

“I’ve worked with Janine and the team for 10 years.  They are reliable and provide good advice.”

That’s nice Janine. Cough

It strikes me that there is a considerable difference between a good and bad testimonial.  Collecting client comments is not the answer; a good testimonial must be crafted.

How to stop that coughing?

We all know that social proof is important.  The value of a third party singing your praises is so much more powerful that singing on your own.  So how do we get it right?

  1. Think about the clients you want to attract and seek testimonials from the clients you have – that are just like them.
  2. Ask a client that loves you. They know you, trust you and recommend you; so why not get it in writing?
  3. They describe your relationship with them. Professional services are, more often than not, a partnership that works together for the long haul. Prospective clients want to know what you’re like to work with.  What others say about this will alleviate concerns.
  4. Use their words, not yours. If your testimonials start to sound like your brochures, I might just start coughing.  Testimonials are far more believable when written in the words of your client, using plain, spoken language – not grammatically authored hyperbole.
  5. They share success. A good testimonial will provide specific details and quantifiable results.  They may name team members, projects, methods and tools used to deliver the solution.  These add credibility.
  6. Are long enough to tell the story but short enough to read quickly (just a paragraph or two).
  7. End with a recommendation to use your services.


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