Sample Testimonial Makeovers
An excerpt from the publication, Secrets of Mouthwatering Marketing Copy, by Marcia Yudkin.
Get more details or order your copy now.
If you'd like to test yourself, first view the "before" versions without my comments and revisions.
To make your comparisons easier, I've included the "before" versions below, together with my comments and the "after" revision. Naturally, any changes you make in a customer's quote require the permission of the customer prior to using them in your marketing.
The "After" Versions
"Prior to learning about CBSI, I was disabled and unemployed with back problems. I now have people helping me and I expect my income to double." - M.B.
First, the phrase "now have people helping me" could mean either "now have people taking care of me because of my back problem" or "now have people voluntarily helping me run my business," neither of which attests to the power of this business opportunity program. Second, "I expect my income to double" is extremely weak. Many people expect their income to double from year to year. Does it actually do so? Get the specifics. Finally, even though the company says they have the original testimonial on file, the attribution to "M.B." appears flimsy. They must fully identify the person who wrote this.
"Prior to working with CBSI, I was disabled and unemployed with back problems. My husband and I now employ three people in a business that grosses $22,000 a month." - Marilyn Baxter, Lincoln Falls, Nebraska
Rudy, Exelrod & Zieff LLP has been very pleased with results of its website developed through Lawinfo.com. Because our firm is easily locatable through the major search engines, we are finding that numerous people are contacting us who otherwise would not. Additionally, Lawinfo.com handles modifications of our website easily and otherwise provides good service.
Alan Exelrod, Rudy, Exelrod & Zieff LLP, www.reztlaw.com
"Numerous people" is vague. I would ask this attorney how many that would be - three a month, thirty a day or what? "Handles modifications of our website easily" is unclear - does it mean that Lawinfo.com makes changes soon after you e-mail them in, or that they have a procedure in place to enable site owners to do it themselves? While this question is undoubtedly answered elsewhere on the site, it can usefully be clarified within a testimonial like this as well. Next, what is meant by "provides good service"? I don't think the "Sincerely" is necessary. Finally, all testimonials should have quotation marks around them to make it explicit that these are the customer's exact words.
"Rudy, Exelrod & Zieff LLP has been very pleased with results of its website developed through Lawinfo.com. Because our firm is easily locatable through the major search engines, we now have more than thirty new clients a month that we would not otherwise have. Additionally, Lawinfo.com posts our e-mailed website modifications within a day, is always up and running and resolves billing issues promptly."
- Alan Exelrod, Rudy, Exelrod & Zieff LLP, www.reztlaw.com
"Kidspiration is fun! Students will think they are playing while they are engaged in language development, concept building, and acquiring a variety of learning skills such as classification and sight word knowledge." - Renee Schorr, Early Childhood Teacher, Winship Elementary School, Brighton, MA
All nine quotes on this site use "will" or present tense, referring to predictions or guesses about results. Not one testimonial talks about real-life, classroom-tested results. Overall, this conveys a strong sense that the product has neither been released nor tested in actual classrooms. Poking around on the site, I learned that is absolutely untrue. The site thus needs to go back to its testimonial writers for real observations or get new quotes from those who have seen the product in action.
"Kidspiration is fun! Students in my classroom believe they are playing while they are engaged in language development, concept building, and acquiring a variety of learning skills such as classification and sight word knowledge." - Renee Schorr, Early Childhood Teacher, Winship Elementary School, Brighton, MA
I just wanted to send you a note that I am very pleased with the flowers. You did a fabulous job!!! Please add me to your list of references as I would be glad to give you a good reference. Thank you again for all your help! - Claudine
The wedding flower company that posted this blurb clearly was not thinking. It does not make sense to quote someone who offers to serve as a reference without providing a way for that to happen. On the contrary, it undermines confidence, since the posting of this notice without identifying information or a link is practically self-contradictory. In addition, "fabulous" doesn't say enough. I'd ask the customer, "What exactly did you like about the flowers?" And I'd ask for a photo, on the ancient theory that a picture can be worth 1,000 words.
"I just wanted to send you a note that I am very pleased with the flowers. They were exactly as they looked in your picture, fresh and sweet-smelling. You can see in my photo [accompanying it on the page] how thrilled I was and how well they matched my dress. Thank you again!" - Claudine Hopkinton, Durham, NH
"The flexibility of your software is a major reason why we selected Synygy. I do not believe your competition is as flexible as they say"
Yes, this is how it appeared, without a final period. There was another paragraph in quotes beneath it, also completely unattributed - or so I thought. I looked at both paragraphs for about ten minutes before I spotted a Siemens logo off to the left of the top paragraph. This layout didn't work. Apparently the paragraphs came from the Siemens company, but from one person there or two? It reduced credibility not to have a name attached to the opinion. Finally, the statement "I do not believe your competition is as flexible as they say" had no basis. As presented, it amounted to rumor or speculation. The quote needed some backing for its claim of greater flexibility.
"The flexibility of your software is a major reason why we selected Synygy. We had previously tried four competitors' software and none of the others could be integrated with other systems that we need to keep." - Harriet Bernais, Siemens
"I am pleased to extend and share my experience in using JobStreet.com as one of our recruitment resources. With the recent advertisement in JobStreet.com, we received overwhelming responses from all over Malaysia and managed to achieve our hiring plan successfully. We considered the services provided were excellent with a comprehensive package which allowed us less selection time frame for potential candidates selection." - BI Technologies, Ismail Mohamed, HR Manager
It detracts from the quote that Mohamed says they used this service as one of their resources. In fact, the first sentence can be cut. The biggest problem, though, is the phrase "overwhelming responses," which could easily be taken as negative by some readers and a reason to look for a service that offered more selectivity in responses. Likewise, does the phrase "less selection time frame" mean they were forced to make their selection quickly (not so good) or they were able to do so (good)?
"With our recent advertisement in JobStreet.com, we received more than sufficient responses from all over Malaysia and were able to achieve our hiring plan successfully. The services provided were excellent, with a comprehensive package which allowed us to complete the process in half the time of previous hires." - BI Technologies, Ismail Mohamed, HR Manager
"Your tapes are like gold to me! I was overweight, a junk food eater, never exercised, a complete mess. I've listened to my tapes (approximately 4 years now), and they have helped me more than anything. I listen all night on an auto-reverse tape player. Thanks so much." - Phyllis Hoga, Warren, OH
Boy, oh boy! Lots of serious problems here. First, any time you say "I was..." you have to say "Now I'm..." Second, some readers will be taken aback by the four years, thinking that they would prefer to have their problem solved much more quickly. Third, it may not be obvious to someone not familiar with psychological tapes why it's a good thing to have them going all night.
"Your tapes are like gold to me! I was overweight, a junk food eater, never exercised, a complete mess. Now I'm slender, eat a balanced diet, work out twice a week and feel good about myself. By continuing to listen to my tapes on auto-reverse for approximately four years now, I've managed to keep these changes in my life without conscious effort. Thanks so much." - Phyllis Hoga, Warren, OH
Charles Cordes, Automotive Engineer:
I enjoy work that uses my hands, so I do a lot of different crafts. I have been using Cure-dents® for years, but just recently found how wonderful they are for craft work. Cure-dents® are very strong, resistant to chemicals of all sorts and economical enough I can keep plenty around.
Cure-dents are a kind of toothpick. On a page trying to convince Web surfers to buy them for the good of their teeth, I don't think it helps to evoke a mental picture of using the product in conjunction with engine oil or airplane glue. This is an interesting story, but I think it's best used in some other context than in a list of testimonials intended to bolster the product's primary use.
[Deletion of the testimonial.]
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