How to Build Super Credibility Without Testimonials

by Dean Rieck

Part 1 > Part 2 > Part 3 > Part 4

Here's a typical phone conversation with a client during the research phase of a direct mail project:

Dean: "Okay, we've gone over product features, your customer profile, the offer, and all the other points on my list. Oh, yes, there's just one more item ..."

Client: "What's that?"

Dean: "Testimonials."

Client: "Testimonials?"

Dean: "Yeah. How many testimonials can you give me? Thirty or so to choose from?"

Client: "Uh ... actually."

Dean: "If you only have twenty, that's okay."

Client: "Hmmm ..."

Dean: "Can you give me say, ten?"

Client: "Well ..."

Dean: "Five?"

Client: "It's kind of embarrassing, but ..."

Dean: "You DO have testimonials, right?"

Client: "Oh, yes. Absolutely!"

Dean: "How many?"

Client: "Well ... a gentleman from Ohio wrote us with some kind words a couple of months ago. Let's see, where did I put that?"

This is the point in the conversation where I sit back in my chair, close my eyes, and start daydreaming about selling off some investments and opening a quaint little bed-and-breakfast. My wife could handle the guests. We'd hire a couple of people to help clean and cook. And I would just tend the garden all day. It would be so peaceful and quiet and ...

Client: "AH-HA! Found the letter!

Dean: "Anything we can use?"

Client: "He says he loves our product and uses it all the time. How's that?"

Dean: "You ever stay at a bed-and-breakfast?"

Getting Creative With Credibility

Testimonials are a great way to support and prove your claims. And they take advantage of the powerful psychological principle called Social Proof: If others are doing it, it's a good thing to do. And when the display of social acceptability becomes big enough, when lots of people are shown doing it, acceptability transforms into desirability. This is what I call the Bandwagon Effect, and it is one reason I suggest that you present testimonials as a group rather than individually.

However, a testimonial is just one way to use Social Proof to your advantage. With just a little thought, it's easy to come up with dozens of other techniques. Here are some of the most effective.

I hope you've learned some useful testimonial techniques in this series of articles. But remember that the strategy is more important than individual tactics. Once you understand how persuasive Social Proof really is, the techniques at your disposal are limited only by your imagination and persistence.

Copyright © 2000 Dean Rieck. All Rights Reserved.
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