When it comes to marketing, it’s understandable that most of us think about how we can promote our own businesses. But because good marketing is about building relationships, and the best relationships are built by giving as much as you receive, it’s worth thinking about the testimonials you write for other businesses.

Not only is writing a testimonial a nice thing to do (think how good you feel when someone writes one for you), it can have a bounce back effect on your business. The company you’re talking up will be much more likely to use your services in return, and hopefully will promote your testimonial widely, highlighting your association with their brand.

The key though, is to write a really powerful testimonial. And that doesn’t just mean saying you thought their services were ‘good’. A testimonial should be much more than that. It should guide the right kinds of people to the business you’re referring, and help those potential customers and clients to make the decision to buy from them or use their services.

Here are a few things to bear in mind:

Set the scene for your testimonial

This is the part that many people miss off their testimonials, but it can be incredibly useful for people to understand what it was that drove you to use a particular service. For example, you might explain that you approached an accountant because you were so stressed by trying to figure out your tax form, or that you decided to hire an interior designer because you wanted to be sure you got a good price when you put your house on the market. Whoever is reading your testimonial might be in the exact same position, so you’ll immediately catch their interest, provoking them to read on and see how your issue was solved.

Explain how the business met your need

Which is why the next thing you need to include in your testimonial is a specific way in which the business met your need. Saying someone delivered a great LinkedIn workshop is fine, but it’s not especially helpful. If you can say that they clarified the importance of building relationships on LinkedIn for you, and set out the steps you could take to initiate conversations with useful connections, then that’s much more powerful.

Differentiate them from the competition

There are likely to be lots of businesses doing whatever it is that the business you’re referring does. So what made them special? For example, if your web designer was able to ask clever questions in order to draw out what you actually wanted from your new site, without making you feel stupid for not knowing what parallax means, then this is something to highlight alongside their technical or creative design skills.

Say who you’d recommend them to

Not every business is suitable for every clients. If you can say who you feel would benefit from a particular service and why, you’ll help generate the right kind of leads. So if you know your photographer has a real flair for making people relax, you might recommend them to anyone who hates having their photo taken. Or if you know your designer has a great branding package, you could recommend them to start ups looking to sort their logo, website and business cards in one shot.

Keep it real and don’t over edit

Finally, while taking all of the above into consideration, don’t stress about creating a paragraph of perfectly written prose. Marketing copy has often been edited to within an inch of its life, which is fine - but a testimonial should feel different. The beauty of a testimonial is that it’s written by a real person rather than a copywriter, and it’s ok if it comes across as such.

Once you’ve written your testimonial, share it as widely as you can - submit it as a Google review, a LinkedIn endorsement, a Facebook review or whatever else you can. You’ll earn the gratitude of the business in question and, if they use your services at all, you can be sure they’ll return the favour.

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