Archive for June 9th, 2009

A Few Words About Testimonials and Public Client Lists

There are all kinds of good reasons to use testimonials on your business website and marketing, but be sure to pay attention to these caveats first:

  1. Make sure the clients whose testimonials you use are aware that they may get contacted by your prospects. It’s never a good idea to put clients in a position of being caught off guard.
  2. Make sure those clients are happy to talk with your prospects. Only display the contact info of clients who absolutely don’t mind being contacted. If contact from your potential clients is going to irritate or inconvenience them in any way, don’t provide their contact info to the general public.
  3. Assign and use testimonials according to these three levels:

a) Public testimonial with full client names, photo, links and contact info;

b) Public testimonial with just client’s name and/or company (no direct contact info); or

c) Private testimonial and contact info provided only to prospective clients who are in the advanced stages of the consultation/retainer process.

I also thought I’d address client lists in this post and why displaying your full client roster may not always be a good thing.

First, understand that the reason you’ll see colleagues displaying a client list is that it gives the appearance that they have “all” these clients and are super successful.

That’s not a bad thing per se. It also might not be the truth.

It can be misleading because these lists sometimes include people they’ve worked for that are merely one-time/occasional project customers and not actual, long-term retained clients.

You’ll have to decide whether you want to take the chance of being viewed by some clients and prospects as being deceptive if they eventually learn the actual truth.

And here’s another reason. It’s not very pretty, but it’s something to be aware of nonetheless: If you provide a public listing of your clients, there are others in our industry who will try to steal them.

Some will even call your clients posing as prospects and try to glean some competitive intelligence about your company and your work with that client.

It’s icky and goes against industry ethics, but it happens.

My recommendation is not to provide your full client roster to the public. Instead, use a sprinkling of testimonials from those clients (just a small handful, or even just one or two is plenty) who you know to be absolutely loyal to you.

Happy clients are going to stay with you, but that doesn’t mean you have to lay a direct path for any would-be interlopers to bother them.

On the other side of the coin, I’ve also heard from clients who’ve commented that they’ve found their names on client lists even though they weren’t happy with that Administrative Consultant’s skills or service.

You’d think it would go without saying, but since it’s not, I’ll spell it out: It’s not to your benefit to list people who haven’t had a satisfactory experience working with you. If that’s the case, they aren’t going to appreciate being contacted off-guard by your potential clients, and they aren’t likely to give you a glowing recommendation.

When all is said and done, hype and smoke and mirrors really isn’t a good policy. There has to be substance to back up the image you project.

Grow your business authentically and truthfully, and it will reward you in dividends a hundredfold.