I'm writing this article nestled in my retreat house where I teach Holistic Business Building seminars to practitioners in and around beautiful Berkeley Springs, WV. This house is a wonderful example of the power of testimonials from folks who have "been there and done that."

When I bought this home 2 years ago, I had a clear vision of how I wanted it to look and feel for my seminar and retreat participants. What I lacked was the contact information for the many professionals who would help me make my vision a reality.

My solution? I sent an e-mail asking acquaintances for testimonials on their first-hand experience working with the type of trades people I needed.

The most interesting result of my e-mail was that everyone replied! Even those who couldn't provide a name and testimonial took the time to reply. People WANTED to share their experiences, good and bad; they WANTED to help me find the best service and product to meet my goals.

Your past and current clients are a persuasive testament to the value of your services and products, and the specific results you deliver. Have you tapped into that wellspring of client-magnet information?

A good testimonial (and I'll define that in a moment) has tremendous power to motivate prospective clients to purchase your product or try your service. And with my step-by-step guide to powerful testimonials, it couldn't be easier.

A great testimonial will motivate a prospect to:

• Identify with your client's experience
• Believe that the testimonial was written by a real person
• Overcome skepticism about you and the results you will deliver
• Want the specific results you can provide

In other words, a great testimonial inspires a prospective client to take action! When a prospect reads a great testimonial about you, they will:

1. Identify with your client's experience: Great testimonials are written from the perspective of your ideal client. Readers should recognize themselves in the verbiage, seeing similar demographics, similar need, or both. Ideally, your reader will recognize that the author of the testimonial faced the same challenges and desired the same result as the reader does, a powerful connection and incentive to continue learning about you and your solutions.

2. Believe that the testimonial was written by a real person: I don't know about you, but I'm highly suspicious of testimonials that don't include the writer's full name, include only their initials, or, worse yet, don't identify the author at all.

To let your readers know that the testimonial did indeed come from a client of yours, identify the author by including some or all of the following: full name, company, city, website, and/or a photo. If you crave the latest technology, include audio testimonials on your website, direct quotes from your clients to your readers.

On my "next to accomplish" list is to investigate Audio Generator and Audio Acrobat, programs for recording and posting verbal testimonials. (Readers, I'd love to hear your "testimonials" on such technology.)

3. Overcome skepticism about you and the results you will deliver: If you know that price, location, or competition is a stumbling block for potential clients, feature a testimonial that addresses that doubt head on! Your reader will "see themselves" in the testimonial, and read how their exact concerns were addressed and overcome. Such testimonials can be even more powerful than ones with all positive verbiage. For example:

"I was attracted to the topics offered in your teleclass, but I was hesitant to pay what I thought was a high cost. I'm on a tight budget, and it seemed like an extravagance I could do without. But within the first week of class I could see that the tuition was a small price to pay for the client-attracting tools you shared with us during each and every class."

Powerful testimonials speak directly to your ideal clients' greatest challenges and goals. Prospects will be compelled to investigate further when you directly address what is most important to them.

4. Want the specific results you can provide: Great testimonials are all about the tangible results that you deliver, and not about abstract generalities. And, of course, the results must be of importance to your ideal client!

Great testimonials are first-person accounts detailing how the user improved after experiencing your product or service. Note! The testimonial is NOT about you, but rather the specific results the client achieved after a session(s) with you.

It may sound counterintuitive, but your best testimonials will likely focus heavily on the writer rather than on you and your company. For example:

"I'd been suffering with sciatic pain for 5 years when I first signed up for a body-energy session with Alexandra. Before that I'd tried half a dozen different modalities and had resigned myself to living with the discomfort. I was most pleasantly surprised when I realized that, after my first session, my sciatic pain was almost completely eliminated! I'm now on a regular regimen of sessions and I'm able to resume activities I long missed, like gardening and hiking!"

So now you know that a great testimonial inspires prospects to Identify, Believe, Overcome Skepticism, and Want. But how exactly do you inspire happy clients to write great testimonials for you?

Here are five easy steps to guarantee that you receive great testimonials from your clients.

Step 1: ASK - do you lack testimonials because you don't ask each and every client if they will provide one? As I’ve already shared, people WANT to share their experiences, and you deserve testimonials for the great work you do!

Step 2: KEEP a written record of the results your clients are achieving because of your products and services. For instance, I end each coaching session, class, or retreat by asking participants, "What insight or value became apparent for you today? What's the greatest benefit you received from today's session?"

Such inquiries encourage clients to reflect on the value they are receiving as well as create a written record of specific and tangible benefits. It's a snap then to retrieve this information when it's time to request a testimonial!

Step 3: SEND an e-mail (my preferred method) to your clients requesting a testimonial and include the specific benefits you tracked in Step 2 above. They'll really appreciate not being faced with a blank piece of paper when it comes time to write a testimonial, and your response rates will greatly increase!

Request approval to edit only for grammatical clarity, such as tense and punctuation. And always send the author a copy of the final version you intend to use in your marketing. They should give their final approval before the testimonial appears on your website or brochure!

Step 4: THANK your client personally for taking the time to write a testimonial for you, and let them know when and where the testimonial will appear.

Step 5: CONTINUE asking for testimonials, particularly for new products, skills, and services you offer. Periodically update your website's Testimonial page to highlight your newest offerings.

Specific, tangible benefits are the key!

Imagine that you are a prospective client reading the following testimonials. Decide which is more likely to move you to action (one of the side effects of a great testimonial).

"Anne is a great listener and creates a wonderful sacred space where I can raise my level of self-awareness. She helped me immeasurably when I went through tremendous career and family challenges. I love the accountability of coaching, as Anne tracks my progress and celebrates with me as I reach each new goal. At the end of each session, I am able to more clearly see my own value and my own capability. In short, I think Anne is a GREAT coach."


"My goal in hiring Anne was to attract more clients and find a method of marketing that didn't make me queasy. I used Anne's templates, particularly the Marketing Funnel and the Ideal Client Worksheet, to write a plan of exactly what products and services will bring me maximum clients. I've added eight new clients within the last month, while spending less time and money than before, and now I look forward to marketing my business with methods I find authentic and fun!"

I refer to the first testimonial as a "Yearbook" quote, wonderful words you might expect to see written in one's high school yearbook. While heartfelt and authentic, these sentiments speak about my attributes, not about the results my products and services will deliver.

The second testimonial identifies tangible benefits the client received and the effect it had on her business. Which testimonial do you think will inspire potential clients to action? The second one will, with its details of specific and tangible benefits.

How does a newbie accumulate testimonials?

If you're relatively new in business and don't yet have many testimonials from paying clients, I have this suggestion while you are starting out.

Using the five-step process I outlined above, ask for testimonials from individuals who have experienced your services for free or at discounted rates while you were starting up. Use these as you continue to build your business and add to your collection of testimonials.

It's a cyclical process!

By the time a prospect becomes a client, you've already invested a lot of time and energy attracting them to your holistic practice. If you are business savvy, you'll ensure a steady stream of customers by asking for great testimonials that will help you attract new clients, who will, in turn, sing your praises to your future customers.

Author's Bio: 

Anne Kelly supports Holistic entrepreneurs who want to earn a good living while doing what they love. For free tips and articles on building your holistic business subscribe to Anne’s monthly newsletter, delivered to your e-mail address (privacy guaranteed). One-on-one or group coaching, and Holistic Business Building Teleclasses are a few of the services we provide. Read an archive of free articles and subscribe today at www.ANewLeafCoaching.com. (301) 693-9580