What Can Testimonials Teach You About Your Business?
Did you know that client testimonials can answer some of your biggest questions about your business?
For example, "What value and benefits do I offer to clients and customers?"
It's easy to get stuck on this question. We are so close to the work we do and the products we create that there's basically no objectivity.
Wouldn't you love to know...
- Exactly why clients choose you
- What value clients get from your services and products
- What people say when they recommend you to others
Well, you can. And it's a pretty simple exercise to find out.
Today, I'm sharing my one of my favorite ways to clearly understand the VALUE of your products and services: ask.
I want you to consider the following exercise that you have the power to do this week - right now - with the resources you have. It'll cost you nothing AND it'll yield some of the best insights and bonuses for your businesses you could ever imagine from something so simple.
Ready? Let's go.
Go to the Source: Interview Your Clients and Customers
Sometime this month, I want to encourage you to conduct a series of 5-10 client or customer interviews via phone or video chat. I'm not talking surveys - I'm saying conversations that can massively influence your business and your marketing going forward.
Here's why it's so valuable to interview your clients directly:
- Objectivity & Familiarity: Your clients and customers know your service or product from a different perspective than you do, so they are a fantastic source of objectivity that you need to better understand your messaging
- Brand Affinity: Their words reflect how they feel about your business
- Insight into your word-of-mouth marketing: Their words reflect how they talk about your business when they recommend it (or don't)
- Insight into Untapped Opportunities: They may see opportunities for your products or services you can't see
Here's who to interview:
- Past Clients or Customers: Even if it's been awhile since you worked together, there's great value in reconnecting (it may even lead to new business by getting on a past client's radar).
- People you've done work for or created products for free or as part of your job: New to business and don't have past clients? Ask people you've done projects or created things for free or as part of your career. They will still have insights about you and what you do that you may not already have.
- 5-10 - the more, the merrier: I recommend talking with at least 5-10 people so you can get a sense of an average.
Best Practices for Conducting Client Interviews
- No Written Surveys for this: People are busy. They have time for 10 minute phone calls - they don't have time to write your survey responses and it's harder to give complete or compelling answers via writing versus a conversation. If you do a survey, you'll wait forever for the reply.
- Video Chat: In-person isn't necessary, but video chat is ideal so you can see the person and connect more deeply. Phone also can work. We recommend Zoom for reliable video chatting (better than Skype and Google Hangout).
- Record the Conversation: This way you can be present and not feel stressed to write every word down. You'll also have a way to refer back to it. Just make sure to ask the person you're interviewing if you can record the conversation. If they call you and you use Google voice, just hit "4" and Google will record it for you. If you're on video chat, use its recording feature OR just record the audio with your Voice Memo function.
- Ask no more than 4-5 questions / Keep it to 10 minutes: Be respectful of your client's time and pick the most important 4-5 questions you want to better understand. One question we love is "When you recommend our services, what do you tell other small business owners?"
Post-Interview Exercise > Transform Your Business Messaging Using Your Client Testimonials
- Review all of your interviews and see what commonalities exist (great if you've gotten a wide sample especially).
- Pull out the words and feelings that pop for you across the interviews.
- Infuse these words and feelings into your existing messaging, or work with a writer like me to translate your clients' perspective into your marketing wording.
I did this exact process in Summer/Fall of 2016 and the results were absolutely incredible for me.
Here's what I learned and did as a result from conducting client interviews:
- What I thought was my value to clients and the actual value to them was very DIFFERENT: Throughout the first several years of Greatest Story, I felt people invested in our services because they liked the idea of storytelling and had a desire to tell their own story. I thought the value was about getting that story and the other materials like logo, tagline, etc. What I learned: our clients felt stuck and / or overwhelmed when they came to me - and my work helped them move forward and gain confidence. Having their story articulated professionally gave them the confidence and the assets they needed to be successful and keep going with their business. This was very different than what I'd thought just from my own perspective.
- I rewrote my entire website to better attract and speak to ideal clients: During Batch December, I rewrote (and rebuilt) Greatest Story's website to reflect this value and the real challenges that our clients face - using their words. Now I feel like it tells a cleaner, more compelling story about the value we offer and the kind of work we love to do to help clients move forward.
- I created an entire event geared at helping our ideal clients get started with branding: Knowing what mattered to my clients in the past helped me shape a signature workshop (Small Business: Best Foot Forward) tailored exactly to their needs.
- I now have fantastic, comprehensive testimonials! I typed up the interviews and sent them back to clients for their records. Many have left their words, pulled from these interviews, as great reviews on our facebook page. Bonus!
Here's one of the summaries I was able to create from asking 4-5 questions in this client interview format:
"Greatest Story Creative is very thorough! They are unlike other companies on the market that either give you huge price tag on the front with very little on the backend. I got so much value and had such a professional experience!
I’d wanted to start a blog for a number of years but felt overwhelmed to accomplish it on my own. After seeing Annie speak, I felt she could make it a reality because her process is so thorough. Our work together encompassed not just a logo, but a website and the story behind it and working with a photographer to get the pictures of the story. It really was a full soup to nuts process that helped tremendously. If I had carried it on my shoulders it probably would have taken another 2-3 years to have the guts!
My new blog is great - it looks fantastic and professional and what I’d hoped it would be. It just exceeded expectations in a lot of ways – the formatting, the fonts, the colors, all these things that I think you wouldn’t get necessarily doing it on your own.
Annie came to the table with a big bag of strengths from her prior career and was drawing from years of experience. She was easy to talk to, good to work with, and a great project manager. I think when you hire someone for something like this, you’re hiring for their profession and also for their experience – and when it comes to Greatest Story Creative, I definitely got both."
Crystal V. of The Belle Wall
These are just a few of the great changes and insights client interviews have led to for me.
In fact, they are so powerful, I've made them a part of my client process in 2017 - the last meeting of any project is a client interview to better understand my clients and their experiences.
Your Turn: Will You Ask Your Clients for Interviews?
Have I convinced you yet? I'll tell you that I was afraid to do this - especially to go back and do interviews with past clients (what will they say? Did I do a good job?) - but the results have been incredibly rewarding and pretty game-changing.
The concept of client interviews came up so often at Q&A during Best Foot Forward and in the resulting strategy sessions, I knew I needed to share it with you.
So now that you have this info - will you ask? I want to know what you learn, and I think you'll discover a lot more than you're expecting.