First, an experiment.
Think of something you’ve always been afraid to do.
Now, find a bunch of YouTube videos of people doing that scary thing. Watch a video a day for the next month and see what happens to your fear.
This experiment mimics a study that was done on preschoolers by psychologist Robert O’Connor.
O’Connor made videos of solitary kids watching a social activity. After a short time, the solitary kid in the video would join the activity, and soon they would be laughing and having fun with the rest of the group.
When Robert O’Connor showed these videos to shy, withdrawn children, they became more socially active. In follow-up studies, O’Connor found that the change was long-lasting.
In fact, these formerly shy kids often became social leaders in their schools.
This is the power of social proof. When we see other people behaving in a certain way, we are more inclined to do what they are doing, even if it goes against our nature.
This phenomenon is deeply ingrained in human nature, and you can use it to your advantage.
If you’re afraid of public speaking, start watching TED Talks—or even go to live speeches and presentations. If you want to exercise more consistently, watch videos of people working out.
A time-tested key to success is to join mastermind groups where you socialize with people who are doing—or have already done—what you want to achieve.
And just as you can use social proof to improve yourself, you can also use it to influence other people.
Using Social Proof to Make People Laugh
In the 1970s, television executives added recorded “laugh tracks” to sitcoms. (If you’re too young to know what I mean, just head over to YouTube and watch any clip from “Gilligan’s Island” or “The Brady Bunch.”)
Even though the audience knew this laughter was fake, surveys found that people thought the same show was funnier when fake laughter was added.
When we see other people enjoying something, laughing, or simply using a specific product or service, we’re more inclined to do the same.
How can you harness this power in your business?
Obviously it’s good to have followers, likes, and lots of people engaging with you on social media. But this has more to do with your content than your actual business.
Positive reviews are a stronger form of social proof, but these are subject to the idiosyncrasies of the people who choose to write a review.
However, there’s one kind of social proof that you can control.
The Gold Standard for Social Proof
Testimonials are the gold standard for social proof.
Each testimonial represents a live human being who used your product or service, loved it, and went out of their way to say something wonderful about you.
When a prospective client is deliberating whether to choose your business or a competing alternative, including the choice to do nothing, they’re going to look at your testimonials to help them decide.
If you don’t have prominent testimonials, most of that potential income evaporates. Your business is losing tens of thousands of dollars that you don’t even know about.
Now for the good news. You can harvest testimonials. Very few businesses do this, but the problem is very easy to fix.
All you need to do is ask.
If you do good work, you have customers and clients who are happy with the results you gave them. Many of these clients would be happy to share their positive stories.
(If you don’t have a lot of happy clients, you need to fix that problem before I can help you.)
How to Harvest Testimonials
To regularly harvest positive testimonials, you need two things.
First, you need a system for asking people for testimonials. You probably already have a process for engaging, nurturing, closing, and invoicing. All you need to do is add a request for testimonials to the client journey.
That’s the easy part. You can simply as a follow-up call or an automated email to your process.
The second thing you need is a way to overcome objections.
This problem can be insidious, especially when dealing with your best clients.
Driving Away Your Top Clients
Because someone likes what you did for them, and likes working with you, they don’t want to say “no” when you ask for a testimonial.
But writing or recording a testimonial takes a lot of work. Thinking about what happened and what to say about it carries a heavy cognitive cost. Plus, many people are self-conscious of how they’re going to look or sound.
Someone may agree to do a testimonial for you, but when they’re dealing with the friction that comes with it, it’s hard to follow through.
They might just throw together something generic off the top of their head, or they might put off doing the testimonial indefinitely.
And it gets worse from there.
Your client is now neglecting something they said they would do, and they’re going to feel guilty. They might feel embarrassed or uncomfortable the next time they hear from you.
Over time, they might forget all about the testimonial. Now they just notice they feel uncomfortable whenever they think about you.
So, not only do you lose the testimonial, but you might lose a valuable client.
An Easy Fix for a Tough Problem
Here’s how you reduce friction, get better testimonials faster, and keep your clients loyal and happy.
When you ask for a testimonial, promise the client that you have a way to get them done easily.
If you’re understaffed and have a low budget, give your client a short survey. Google Forms are good for this, and they’re free.
Ask specific questions so your client doesn’t have to think too hard. Include spaces to write short responses in their own words.
Then you can take these answers and edit them into a nice text quote.
Better yet, schedule a Zoom call and interview the client using the same questions. You can record the interview, and when you edit you’ll have an incredible video testimonial.
How to Get the Most Out of Each Testimonial
It’s best of all to have a third party do the interview, because people are going to be more candid and spontaneous when they’re talking about you to someone else.
If you can’t get a third party to do the interview, then at least get an assistant or an employee who doesn’t normally interact with the client.
Make sure the client knows the interview is going to be fun and easy. They’re going to hop on a call, answer three or four questions, and be finished in 10 minutes or less.
A Foolproof System for Dazzling Testimonial Interviews
I have done dozens of these testimonial interviews, and I have a detailed system I’d like to share.
I’ll be writing more about this in the future, but here’s a quick rundown.
- Asking for a testimonial simply involves building rapport and reminding the client of why they were so happy with you in the first place. I use templates and calling scripts to make this easier for my clients.
- When a customer agrees to do a testimonial, offer them some coaching. This “coaching” preps them for the call so you’ll get a higher quality testimonial.
- Prepare for the interview with specific questions that draw out the client’s story. Ideally, ask them for the “before” and “after” pictures of the transformation that you created for their life or their business. If you can get concrete numbers in terms of time saved or money earned, your testimonial will be pure platinum.
- Now that you have them raving about all the amazing benefits of doing business with you, ask them, “do you know anyone else who could use these same benefits?” (Put this question in your own words and make it a natural part of the conversation.) You might get a referral as well as a testimonial. If you do, be sure to ask, “Is there anyone else?”
- Take the video, audio, or transcript and edit out the small talk. Remove anything that wouldn’t help a potential client choose you.
- Move the most dramatic or positive statement to the very beginning of the testimonial. Open with a bang!
- Show the final product to the client and get their permission to use it. (Ideally do this through email so you have a written record)
- Dress it up. Get a professional editor to remove background noises and make color corrections. Add subtitles and transitions to the video. If you’re a B2B and you have a written testimonial, see if you can put the text on the client’s company letterhead.
- When you post a testimonial online, include a photo of the client or their company logo. If you post these on your website, include a link to the client. (Don’t include this link in social media or landing pages, as it may impact the performance.)
How to get all nine of these steps done for you
Does this sound like a lot of work? Believe me, it is!
I’ve gone through this process dozens of times with individuals and business leaders including wealth advisors, parents, lawyers, school administrators, REALTORS®, engineers, retirees, CEOs, students, and coaches.
You’ll get a better result by working with someone who has been through the process.
That’s why I created iTestimonials. This is a hands-off, done-for-you service that covers all nine of the steps above. All you have to do is provide the satisfied clients. My team and I will handle all the scheduling, the interview, and the edits.
Just to be clear, this is NOT a recurring expense where you have to pay to host your testimonials somewhere else.
You will get a high-quality MP4 that you own forever, and can use in any way you wish.
I’m training new interviewers to fill in as this service grows, but currently I’m doing all the interviews myself, and I directly supervise the editing. Just visit iTestimonial.io/info and I’ll hook you up.