Want to promote your business? Ask your customers for a reference
Alex Malouf

Want to promote your business? Ask your customers for a reference

Customer testimonials are the most powerful form of promotion. In a special piece to SME10X, I share my view on why testimonials and asking for a reference goes a long way to enhancing your brand

I’ve worked in public relations for two decades, and there’s one thing which still gets me excited. It’s customer references. There’s nothing better than a happy customer, except for a happy customer who is willing to talk publicly about why they’re happy with your service or product. For the media, a customer story is as good as it gets. It’s not advertising, as in you talking about yourself. Instead, a good customer reference is a great story for telling, be it in print, on the screen, or digitally.

Customer testimonials are the most powerful form of promotion. They’re third party, and they don’t have any self-vested interest in promoting you and your business for any other reason than you are delivering above and beyond their expectations. And they’ll be trusted more by existing and potential customers than any marketing material you can push out. Customer references can lead to more customer business. And the best thing about asking customers for a reference is that they’re free.

Customer testimonials lead to brand advocates. And brands who make the most of customer testimonials can generate an additional double-digit growth in sales.

So, where do you start? It’s pretty simple. You know your customers, and you’ll know who the happy ones are. Reach out to them, and ask them if they’re willing to be a reference for the media.

Second step is a little bit trickier. But here goes. Write the testimonial on behalf of your customer. Yes, you heard me right. It’s much quicker and simpler to do this, in terms of both getting the customer to approve the content and for you to get the testimony that you want.

So, how should a testimony look? Firstly, keep it simple. Write down what the customer was looking for, how you exceeded their expectations, and how it has helped them and their business. It’s as direct as that. No waffle, no excess words. The more direct the wording is, the better it is.

And don’t stop at the written word. Getting a quote to use in print or online is the first step. The next ask is to get that reference on film. Make it short, no more than a minute tops.

The final step is sharing. Once you have the reference, you’ve now got to share it. There’s the typical press release, which helps to get the story out. Use social media as much as possible, both your accounts and those of your customer’s. And even put some paid media behind the customer testimonial.

That’s it. If you want to promote your business, the best way is to get someone else who’s happy with your product or service to do it for you. Now go and ask your customer for a reference.