Referrals, Testimonials, LinkedIn Recommendations & Home-Based Business

Jeff Zbar

I finished a writing project last week. My first order of business was to send a hand-written Thank You card. Next, knowing the client was satisfied, I made a request: If you feel comfortable doing so, can you write a testimonial regarding the work I did for you?

The client said yes, followed up with the testimonial a week or so later, and I posted it to my writing site,

Why is this important? Because testimonials, referrals and recommendations are critical when looking for new business. They’re the highest form of Word-Of-Mouth Marketing. They’re powerful fuel when building Brand You.

No disrespect to Mr. Frost, but all this talk of taking the road less traveled belies one business reality: People say they’re pioneers. But when it comes to dropping money on vendors they don’t know, they hesitate. They don’t like making new paths in the in uncharted woods — especially if it may cost them money.

If they know someone else has been there first, invested hard-earned cash, and has lived to tell about it, the prospect is more likely to venture there themselves.

How can you get a referral? Ask.

If the prospect says No, ask why (I sense a Yes-No Decision Tree coming here…). If they say they’re uncomfortable promoting your work, ask why. Were you under the wrong impression about their appreciation for your efforts? If so, ask what you did wrong or how you missed meeting their expectations.

If they were OK with your work, do they have a policy against writing testimonials? If so, your request would die right there.

Do they not like to write – even a 50-word testimonial (which is just about the right length)? If so, write it for them, and submit it for their review. Nix the effusive accolades. Kind words with vivid descriptions of what you delivered are enough.

Be sure to include the person’s name and company (assuming they’re OK with being identified). Also link out to their site or a sample of the work you did for them. This form of marketing, after all, is a two-way street. Besides, in the online realm, inbound links are vital.

Once you’ve gotten the referral, post it to your Website. Put it in a widget that rotates testimonials on your site. Post it to your Facebook fan page. Syndicate it to Twitter. Tell the world.

Another client posted an unsolicited testimonial to his LinkedIn.

This isn’t about ego or grandstanding. It’s about building business.

And much as people say they’re pioneers, business is no place for the meek, timid, cautious or quiet. Since I’ve yet to meet a small business that ran a 30-second spot on American Idol, we have to use guerrilla tactics proven to deliver results. In this case, that means taking a well-earned testimonial, posting it to your site, and blasting it across all your social media sites.

If that’s the road less traveled, I’ll gladly travel it — and hope it makes all the difference.

Jeff Zbar, The Chief Home Officer
Copyright 2010, author retains ownership. All Rights Reserved

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