Turbocharge Your Fitness, Nutrition and Wellness Testimonials

These wellness testimonial best practices bootstrap a powerful and free resource that’s right in front of you. Isn’t that better than spending thousands of dollars on SEO and print marketing?

What is a testimonial?

powerful testimonialsA testimonial is a statement describing a positive experience or belief about:

-You or your team

-Your programs, products and services

-Your approach to doing business

-The positive experience or outcome for the customer

A comment that says simply “Juan is great” won’t carry much weight as a testimonial. A comment that says “Juan’s lifestyle class actually let me get off my meds” connects the dots between the people in your business, your programs, and the payoff for your client.

Why are testimonials important?

Potential customers want satisfactory answers to three key questions before they’ll buy from you:

1. Can I trust you and your business?

2. Do you understand what I want to do?

3. Can you help me solve my problem or reach my goal?

Testimonials help future customers answer these questions.

What are the major types of testimonials?

Endorsements, recommendations, proof statements and customer experience testimonials are the four most common types of testimonials:

Endorsements - a recommendation from someone with special standing – an expert or authority, or a celebrity, for example. They may comment on their own experience as a customer of your business, or they may comment favorably on your team’s qualifications and credentials or what they’ve heard from others about your business. They might also comment favorably on the approaches incorporated into your programs and services. Here’s an example of a testimonial regarding the credentials for the head of medical services at LoveOfLife, a hypothetical weight management program:

“Dr. Kinnard’s insights into weight issues for people over 40 are top-notch… Dr. Lucy Smith, chair, BigState School of Medicine.”

Recommendations - a positive comment from a prior or current customer or client. These testimonials are often general compared to proof statements or customer experience testimonials.

“The LoveOfLife program is fabulous!”

Proof statements - a positive customer comment specifically about the customer’s outcome or results. This type of testimonial shows potential customers that your busines does understand what they want to accomplish and is actually able to do it – Questions 1 and 2 above.

“I learned five great ways to handle emotional eating in the LoveOfLife program and made it through my wedding with no problems.”

Customer experience testimonials - a positive customer comment specifically about the customer’s experience with your business. This type of testimonial shows potential customers that the way you market your business is an accurate indication of what they can expect if they buy from you. It often gives prospects insight into how your business helps them accomplish their goals.

“The other people in the LoveOfLife program were so kind and supportive – no one ever guilted me about anything.”

How should our business get testimonials?

Spontaneous and unprompted praise is solid gold. And if you’re doing a great job of serving your clients and customers, you’re probably hearing frequent compliments.

Whenever a prospect, customer or client says something complimentary to your or your employees, immediately thank them and ask if it would be okay for you to share that with other customers. We’ve literally never seen a customer say “no” to that request! When they agree, write it down promptly, note who said it, and date it. If you have a marketing manager or department, forward it to them.

Don’t limit yourself to face-to-face or telephone conversations. Review customer emails, suggestion cards, survey comments and similar communications for positive comments. Follow-up on these potential testimonials and ask the sender if you can use their feedback.

Can you ask for a testimonial?

Sure. Here’s a graceful way to ask for either general or specific testimonials:

First, choose your time. The best time to ask is when your client or customer feels that his objective in choosing your business has been reached. For example, perhaps your client has maintained her weight goal for three months.

Then use these talking points:

For a general testimonial:

Just ask your customer something like “How do you feel the program’s been working for you?”

She’ll probably say “It’s been fabulous…I’m hardly ever hungry because of all the great snack ideas you gave me.”

Then you say “Wow, that’s great to hear. Would it be OK if we shared that with other customers?”

For a testimonial about a specific aspect of your program or service: Say something like “How has the stress reduction aspect of the program worked for you?”

Your client will say something like “Oh, that part’s been great – I just use the tips you taught me when I feel myself getting tense.”

And you say “”Wow, that’s wonderful news. Would it be OK if we shared that with other people?”

When your customer agrees that it’s fine for you to share the comment, ask her if it’s OK to use her full name or if she’d rather you just used her first name. That’s all there is to it!

What’s the best source for a testimonial?

Think broadly. Customers are only the first place to start looking for testimonials.

  • Customers - current and previous (and don’t overlook comments from their friends, family, and coworkers…)
  • Celebrities - people who are well-known locally, regionally or nationally who influence the opinions or buying behaviors of potential customers although they have no special expertise in your field. They’re most effective in providing testimonials when they’ve actually used your product, service or program.
  • Experts and authorities in your area of expertise - for example, a well-regarded physician in your community Members of professional associations - associations of business owners and managers in your industry, like the American Dietetic Association, the Medical Fitness Association, the American Physical Therapy Association, IHRSA or the Yoga Alliance.
  • Members of business organizations - networking organizations like BNI, Kiwanis, NAWBO, Altrusa and others
  • Members of community assistance organizations - local volunteer organizations that work with domestic violence victims, teens in need, etc.
  • Vendors and suppliers – key professionals like CPAs and attorneys plus the companies you buy materials and supplies from
  • Board of directors and business advisors - often well-connected individuals who are well-respected in your physical or online community

What do the best testimonials accomplish?

The most effective testimonials do one or more of the following:

  • Remind potential customers about the emotional pain or benefit of tackling the problem they’d like to solve or the opportunity they’d like to capitalize on.
  • Reflect a real-life experience that other prospective clients can relate to
  • Share an unexpected benefit or payoff that would appeal to others
  • Spark curiosity or interest from others in similar situations
  • Address potential anxieties, fears or concerns that potential customers may have about making this purchase decision

What format should our testimonials follow?

These guidelines will help you present your testimonials for maximum effect:

  • Date each testimonial (“4/13″). It’s a very effective way to subtly reinforce your track record.
  • Use the customer’s real words. Edit only for clarity and space. Don’t rewrite their positive comments to sound more “corporate” or more “salesy”.
  • Use customer’s names – either the full name, or first name + last initial. Include a company affiliation if that will reflect well on your business.
  • When possible, include a small photo of the customer.
  • Caption each testimonial with the customer’s name and a very brief description of their situation – for example, “Debbie L., 45 and busy mom of 3, conquered emotional eating.” It makes it easy for potential customers to see similarities between their situation and your customer’s.

Printed and online written testimonials are traditional and very effective. Include a quick digital photograph of the customer next to his or her testimonial to personalize their feedback.

Audio and video recordings are also terrific options that are increasingly available to even small low-tech businesses. Simple do-it-yourself audio and video clips are quite effective if you have basic mastery of the equipment and good aesthetic judgment. The cost of more elaborate professionally-produced video testimonials can make sense for larger wellness businesses, or for use with more sophisticated corporate prospects. And a smaller wellness business might choose 2-3 testimonials that get “top of the line” treatment by a professional videographer and then provide additional ones using simpler do-it-yourself techniques.

How can we use testimonials?

Fifteen possibilities to get you started:

  • On the back of your business cards
  • In your newsletter
  • In your advertising
  • On your website
  • Your on-hold message
  • In your brochure
  • In your e-mail signature
  • In proposals to corporate customers
  • On any direct-mail materials
  • In printed products
  • Your company voice-mail announcement
  • Case studies of successful clients and customers
  • Display boards and bulletin boards
  • Inserts in pocket folders
  • Playback on in-store monitors

Put a reminder on the appropriate employee’s calendar to rotate testimonials in frequently-revised places like your newsletter and website.

For business cards and marketing materials published less frequently, make sure you rotate testimonials every time you order a new batch.

Just remember: Practically every wellness business – whether you employ one person or hundreds – can improve its use of testimonials. Follow these tips and you’ll empower your customers to do your marketing for you.

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Leslie Nolen, Radial's president, is the nationally-known expert on the art and science of selling health and wellness.

Comments

  1. Keevin R. Davis, M.D. says

    I was told the best way to do testimonials are to write them and ask the person to sign them in the interest of their busy schedule. What are your thoughts on this.
    Doctors in the Kitchen doctorsinthekitchen.com

  2. says

    KD, I think that’s terrible advice. Clients who love what you do WANT you to be successful. They are happy to say nice things about you. And what they say will always be more heartfelt and authentic than anything you come up with. Putting YOUR words in their mouth is a bad idea.

    Now, sometimes a client will ask you to write a testimonial for them to sign – but honestly, I still don’t recommend it, and here’s why you shouldn’t need to do this:

    Generally, happy clients will spontaneously say nice things to your face, or they’ll send you happy emails – and all you need to do is say “Thank you so much, I really appreciate that, would it be OK if I shared it on our website” or something similar. Ta-daa! Another testimonial!

    I’ve had quite a few folks over the years tell me “Oh, our customers love us.” But they have almost no spontaneously positive customer feedback of any kind. That tells me that there is a disconnect between how well THEY think they’re doing and how well their CLIENTS think they’re doing.

  3. says

    Glad they’re useful. The truth is that wellness clients and customers find the words of their peers far more compelling than any other single piece of marketing you can put in front of them. That’s why real customer feedback is always our starting point when we develop new marketing copy for clients.

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