Gathering and utilizing authentic customer testimonials is a great way to a) get closer to your customers and b) offer proof that your company delivers. People can be very motivated by the comments of their peers.
I often find that while most business owners understand the power of testimonials, they don’t always know the best way to acquire them.
So, here’s an idea that I think works on a number of levels. (I actually got this from a participant in a workshop I did for Apple Specialists attending Macworld.)
Why not create an event around gathering testimonials. Invite your best customers for a networking social happy hour. Promote the event as a chance to network, swap stories and star in the creation of new marketing materials for your company. Give it a Hollywood theme. (This probably isn’t something you would do large scale, this is for those customers that are advocates already.)
Hire a videographer and photographer and then throughout the course of the evening, let your customers cycle through the video seat to tell their story of success with your firm. Most people enjoy being on camera once they do it and the whole group will be entertained by the event and feed off of each other’s energy. (This is something you should be doing anyway so why not do it all at one time.)
Yes, this is a bit of a self-serving event on the surface, so I do believe you need to be very selective about invitees and keep it very light and fun – participation in the testimonial part is completely voluntary. But, I think you will find that your customers think this is great too. (Wine helps)
Another way to motivate your customers to participate is to offer to allow them to also create a quick video overview of their company while at the event that they can use in their own marketing efforts.
Once you capture the video, audio and still photos from the event, you’ve got a testimonial and success story library that could infuse your marketing materials, broadcast and print ads for years. And, you’ve created a customer loyalty and community building event that just may become next year’s hottest party to crash!