Marketing Strategies: 4 Secrets for Powerful Testimonials

This article is based on an excerpt from the book Attract and Keep Customers for Life by Terry Begue, owner of Begue Painting and a regular contributor to PPC magazine.

The power of testimonials

The most powerful marketing and selling tool at your disposal is something you can’t buy and can never own. It is the testimonial – the borrowed words of your customers, an unbiased summary of their experience working with you and your company.

The power of testimonials cannot be overstated. They communicate to the world how good you are without you saying it. They enable your past customers to do the selling for you.

Those who don’t know anything about you or your company will have more trust if they see others had a good experience when working with you.

Many times, I’ve had new customers tell me they’re hiring me just because I had painted for so-and-so up the street. They would say something like, “That guy’s picky. If you can make him happy, I’m hiring you.”

What I find even more interesting is they usually tell me that before I give them a price to paint their home. That’s powerful!

What makes a good testimonial?

Almost any positive statement someone says about you and your company can be a good testimonial. Just make sure it’s in their own words and that you have their permission to use it in your marketing.

Here are four questions that good testimonials answer:

1. How can you help me?

A good testimonial explains at least one benefit, what you did to improve their life in some way – saved them time, saved them money, or even brought back the pride they once had in whatever you improved.

2. Do you deliver?

A good testimonial refers to your promises and that you walk your talk. This can be as simple as you’re punctual, or easy to talk to and work with, or that you clean up the workplace at the end of each day.

3. How do you compare?

A good testimonial is comparative. Maybe they tried a competitor and were disappointed. Be sure they know you won’t use the competitor’s name. Never bad-mouth the competition to your clients. It pulls both you and your competition down.

4. Can you be trusted?

A good testimonial is credible. What I mean is the more information you can share about the person giving you the testimonial, the better. Include their first and last name and even a photo if they don’t mind. It creates a little more trust and says you’re not just making these things up. A video testimonial is even stronger.

I found that it’s easier to get a video testimonial than it is to get a written one. When your client is singing your praises to you, stop them and ask if they would mind if you pulled out your phone, and they repeat what they just said while you record it.

Some people don’t want to be recorded because they feel they aren’t prepared or don’t look right, but most don’t mind. If you treated them right, they usually won’t care. Still, be sure they know what you’re using it for and are OK with it if you’re going to post it somewhere.

Watch more samples of Terry’s testimonials at

Bottom line: How you’ll benefit

Besides a great endorsement, you’ll also see what’s valuable to your client – which may not always be what you think.

When I first started doing this, I expected the customer to say they liked the paint job first and foremost. I was surprised to see most people talked about our people skills more so than the painting we did. They would say things like, “Terry and his crew were polite and easy to talk to and work with” and “They stayed on schedule and did more than promised.”

Look at the good things your clients are saying about you, then go all-out to provide those same qualities to the next customer.

Terry’s tips: How to help them say what they’re feeling

Some people don’t know how to verbalize how they feel or how to put it in writing. Here are some ways to help them:

  • Just ask them what they liked the most about working with you, then listen to what they say. Tell them to write out what they just said. You can even remind them of what they said to some small extent. It’s still their testimonial. It just needs to be in their own words.
  • You can print out a few past testimonials and give them a copy to help them see what others have said. Sometimes they just need a little help getting started.
  • Tell them to go to your website and look at the ones already there. This will lightly suggest that they should write them in the same way. If you have a number of them, be sure to put your best ones at the top.
  • I saved the best for last: simply give them a questionnaire specially designed for collecting testimonials. I created one that works like magic! I ask two simple questions guaranteed to elicit a positive response. It’s their words – you’re just helping them get started. I’ve used this form to collect hundreds of reviews. There’s even a place for them to sign, giving you permission to use their testimonial in your marketing. You can download my free testimonial form at my website

Terry Begue founded Begue Painting, Inc. in 1978 in Hartville, Ohio. This article is based on an excerpt from his book Attract and Keep Customers for Life. Read more business-building stories by Terry in the PPC magazine archive.