How to Get Good Testimonials

By Ron Rosenberg

In the past, we've discussed how important testimonials are in your marketing strategies, and lamented the fact that so few businesses use them at all - let alone to their full potential.

When I point out the lack of testimonials to clients during their "Marketing Makeover" sessions, I get a lot of "yeah, but" kinds of responses, as in, "Yeah, I know they're important, but I just don't know how to get them."

Fortunately, there are several proven methods for getting testimonials, and we'll review some of them here.

Feedback Forms

The simplest and most obvious way to get testimonials is the feedback form. You can include one in a product shipment, send one via e-mail, or just drop one in the mailbox.  Just link it to your CRM system or to a web-based survey tool and you can get great input to use for your testimonials.

Be very careful, however, about the questions you ask on these forms because they will certainly dictate the format of the answer. If you ask people to rate your product, service, delivery, or support on a scale from 1 to 5, then you’ll end up with averages and a table of results showing the percentage of each score.

Testimonials like this are interesting...but not compelling - in other words, they might register as "favorable" in the objective left-hand side of your brain, but will come up empty in the subjective right brain.

Instead, try to ask a few key open-ended questions, preferably ones that help address common objections or concerns people might have in selecting you in the first place, questions like:

  • Some people are still nervous about buying products like ours online - how did we make this easy for you in this case?
  • What's the one thing we did great for you this time?

Follow-Up Calls

Doing follow-up calls is also a great way to get testimonials. For example, after a transaction with your customer, you can have an employee or member of the management team call to make sure everything went exactly as expected, and answer any questions.

Your representative might ask questions like these:

  • What was the main reason you picked our company?
  • What’s the most important benefit you’ve gotten so far from working with us?
  • How has this helped you in your own business?
  • How has this helped make your life easier?

You can use this technique for anything your organization offers: memberships, events,
products, services, etc.

Of course, as with any effective tool, be careful not to overdo it - it's one thing to call a new customer, or to follow up on what you know was a tricky order, but calling every single week can get a bit annoying and have a negative effect on satisfaction levels.

"Ethical Bribes"

The speaking part of our business - where I'm paid to present keynote or breakout sessions at conferences and other events - has become virtually 100 percent "repeat and referral." Either the client invites me back to speak at another event, or someone in the audience really likes what they've heard and invites me to present at their event.

Either way, it's a very efficient and cost-effective way to do marketing, and since word-of-mouth is an extremely powerful resource, we do everything we can to encourage this.

When we book one of these speaking programs, we have a very high level of contact with the client - from the initial contact to the post-program follow-up. And we do everything we can to make sure the actual program is as good as it can possibly be.

So the best time to approach our clients for their feedback is right after the program - when the favorable comments they've gotten from the program attendees are still fresh in their minds.

Personalized Thank You Card

That's why our post-program process includes sending a personalized card (using a service like Send Out Cards) that contains a $10 Starbucks gift card.  The copy inside the card reads:

Hi <First Name>,

I've enclosed a gift card so you can grab a cup of tea or coffee and take a moment to savor the culmination of yet another successful event! It's a small "thank you" for inviting me to speak at your event!

You and your team were tremendous to work with and that really helped ensure that my presentation was a success and an outstanding experience for your members and guests.

I received a lot of positive feedback from the people I spoke with after the program. I hope you were as pleased as they were with the presentation, and that I exceeded your expectations and positively represented your association.

As you probably know, all of our speaking business is repeat and referral so we'd love to hear your feedback as well to help us improve what we're doing. You'll receive an email in a few days with a link to a special page where you can let us know how we met your goals and determine when to contact you for future events.

Thanks again and we look forward to working with you again soon.

Ron Rosenberg, QualityTalk, Inc.
Speaker, Author, Coach

Followup Email

We then make a note in our automated marketing system that tells it to wait 7 days (enough time for the card to be delivered), and then send this e-mail:

<First Name>, I Hope You Took Few Minutes to Grab that Cup of Tea or Coffee...on Us!

Hi <First Name>,
Again I wanted to thank you for inviting me to present at the <Name of Event>! We had a lot of fun and I hope your participants were able to take away some new ideas and valuable strategies to help them grow their businesses or organizations and improve their bottom-line results.
As I mentioned in the card I sent you a few days ago, all of our speaking business is repeat and referral so we'd love to get your feedback and comments to help us serve our customers and clients even better.

Click here to go to our special feedback page. There are only four questions so it will take just a couple of minutes to complete.

Thanks again for allowing us to represent your association to your members. We look forward to working with you again in the future to help you and your members achieve new levels of success!

Ron Rosenberg
Speaker, Business Coach, Author

Of course, we love our clients and think they deserve a treat after all the effort they put into their events. But the fact that we send them a card in the mail and include the gift card makes it more likely that they will respond to our feedback request.

And, as you might expect, if they don't respond to that e-mail, we have the system automatically send out a polite reminder a few days later.


You can do a contest where you offer a prize of some sort to the person who gives the best testimonial and backs it up with tangible business results. Sure, the prize itself might cost you a bit, but it’s worth it if you get a great testimonial that lands a customer worth a significant amount to you over the long run.

Testimonials with specific benefits make the most impact and are the most effective ones, but there are regulations put in place by the FTC and other regulatory agencies that you must understand and comply with so be sure to seek appropriate legal counsel to be sure you’re using the testimonials correctly.

Get Started Now!

With all the options available for getting good testimonials, there's really no excuse for not using them. Remember, what someone else says about you carries more weight than what you say about yourself. From now on, let your testimonials do some of the talking!