I once asked a copywriter for a testimonial to put on my old website. He immediately asked me what, specifically, I wanted him to testify to. Creativity? Ability to speak to clients? Or was it about a specific piece of work that I was proud of?

In short, he was asking me the kinds of questions I ask for in a copywriting brief.

Understanding how to ask for a testimonial is a more important task than actually writing one. Because the right questions will elicit the best answers.

Why are testimonials great copy?

Someone else singing your praises is infinitely more believable than you singing your own. Being able to put the words of your clients on your website gives you more credibility in the eyes of your prospects. The more testimonials you have throughout your site, the more credibility increases.

Integrating the social recommendation tools such as Facebook ‘Likes’, Twitter links, ratings, reviews and comments all provide extra copy (and SEO keywords) for your website without you having to sit down at the keyboard and write it yourself.

That’s what I call great!

How do you get a great testimonial?

You ask for it. You ask a specific question, or set of questions. The more specific the better.

  • How did our work make you feel when you first saw it?
  • What percentage change in sales has occurred since our work?
  • Which part of the work stands out for you as the most surprising?

Hint: Don’t ask questions which can be answered ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

A great question will spark a lengthy (hopefully) response and will need some copy editing. That’s usually okay with clients. Just give them the respect they deserve and run the edit past them.

Social testimonials

Many clients of my copywriting services prefer to email a short quote answering my specific question, but some are a little shy.

Have no fear. There are plenty of options that allow you to get great testimonials in other forms. You could ask for a LinkedIn recommendation, a review on a blog, or comment on your site. You could ask for your client to rate a product on your own site, or your business on Google Places.

Coming next in the series: Testimonials and copywriting Part 2 – Can you write it for me?

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