Dear Danielle: What If I’m New and Don’t Have Any Testimonials Yet?

Dear Danielle:

What if you are brand new and only have one testimonial for your site? Should I wait until I have more and add that component later? –EB

Heck no! Get ‘er up on your site today. :)

You’ve heard the expression “you gotta use what you’ve got.” Well, if you only have one testimonial so far, work it, girl!

So how do you do that? By making it a feature on your site instead of an afterthought. That means using the client’s full name and link to their site. Bonus points if you can add a headshot (people like to see faces with names). Give it a dedicated page, perhaps, and even list the client’s contact information.

(Caveat: Make sure you ask and that the client gives you permission to do this first. Inbound links are always great for SEO so it doesn’t hurt to point that out as well.)

People are skeptical about anonymous testimonials so you never want to use initials or only first names. Prospective clients put more stock in testimonials they can see are from actual, real people.

You also don’t need millions of testimonials, just a handful of quality ones. So the other thing I recommend you do immediately is institute a feedback process in your business. For example, in my business, I solicit feedback from my monthly retained clients every 3 or 6 months and immediately upon project completion from any project clients I work with.

The very best way to get your feedback process going is with my Client Feedback Form which you can get from the Success Store. My Client Feedback Form is designed especially to help you elicit meaningful testimonials and start building great before/after case studies.

Now, what if you don’t have any testimonials yet? There are a couple things you can do.

  1. Use comments/reviews of past employers.
  2. Use comments/reviews from volunteer work you’ve done.

Again, get permission or ask them if they’d be willing to write something fresh for you.

Anyone who can speak to the quality of your skills and professional qualities and how great it is to work with you can provide you with a testimonial. It doesn’t necessarily need to be clients. It’s just better coming from paying clients so work toward replacing those employer/volunteer testimonials as you get established.

Here’s another great little trick you can do that has lots of credibility and “social proof” (which, again, is ultimately what clients are seeking in testimonials)…

If you are using social media like Twitter and Facebook, you can use those positive comments you get as testimonials. Post them on your website. Compile them in a PDF. You can even use widgets to your advantage such as the Twitter Faves widget (really simple: whenever someone says something nice about you, favorite it and it will show up in the widget, which you can place on your website).

Let me know if that helps you, and if anyone else has tips, please do share in the comments!

7 Responses

  1. Danielle,
    Though I am all for change, progress and creativity, can we really keep up with the fast pace of a daily tech innovation? What about security, privacy and other issues attached to it.
    How do you feel the “Hybrid Age” will affect Virtual businesses, what are the pros and cons you foresee? Please see a link below.
    http://hybridreality.me/?page_id=1855
    Thank you.
    Kind regards,
    Brigitte.

  2. Hi Bridget :)

    I’m not sure how this relates to this particular post. Can you elaborate?

    Or, if this is a new question, be sure and submit those here: http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/blog/ask-danielle/

    That will help keep things organized and on topic. :)

    Thanks, Bridget!

  3. Karon says:

    I have LinkedIn Testimonials from former employers and co-workers. Is it ethical to use these as copy? I’d like to pick snippets from them to use on the web, in presentations, etc. Do I need to just link to LindedIn on my web site or can I pull from them?

  4. What do you think would be unethical about using these? Those folks left you those testimonials to help you. Use them!

    Don’t link to the testimonials. Put the content on your website. You want your site visitors to remain on your site learning about you and how you can help them as much as possible so give them all the info they need right there.

    And wherever possible, use photos, full names and link to their website (make sure it opens in a new window and doesn’t click your site visitors away from your site). This adds credibility as your site visitors will see these are real people and real businesses who are recommending you.

    Personally, I think it would be ridiculous for someone to leave you a testimonial but then not want you to use it in whatever way is most helpful to you. But I realize there are ridiculous people in the world, lol. If there is anything you are feeling unsure about using, when in doubt, simply contact the person who left the testimonial and let them know how you’d like to use it just to make sure they are on board.

  5. Kattie Johnson says:

    Danielle, this was very informative. Over the years I have received numerous certificates of recongnition from past employers and volunteer work would they suffiice as testimonials?

  6. I understand what you are saying about not using full names, however, what I’m planning on using as testimonials right now (because I’m brand spanking new) are past comments and portions of letters of recommendation from attorneys I have worked for and with in the past. Some of those are prosecuting and defense lawyers and I wouldn’t want to attract any unnecessary and unwanted attention to them or myself. Is first name and last initial ok?

  7. Absolutely, Susan. :)

    You gotta work with what you have at the moment, and sometimes that means you arne’t able to optimize them as fully as you’d like. That’s totally okay.

    I’m just saying that you want to shoot for that goal of having full names eventually on at least one or two of your testimonials, only because people will see them as more credible and legitimate.

    And remember, it never hurts to ask. They might be totally fine with you using their full name.

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