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Are your testimonials doing more harm than good?

Three ways your testimonials could be hurting your business

Text version underneath if you’d rather read/skim than watch (or maybe you want to read AND watch).

You’ve probably seen me mention a few times that for me, your website is not a declaration of where you are now. You aren’t confessing everything you’ve ever sold. It’s not a documentation of what your business looks like right now.

It’s future-focused. What you put on your website is calling in what you want more of in the future. The people you want to work with and the offers you want to sell……in the future. 

It doesn’t matter if behind the scenes, you still make money selling something different - your website is future-focused. 

Now that’s difficult because we need to back up what we’re saying about ourselves with something that shows that we can do what we say we can do.

And so we usually use testimonials for that, which are past focused. 

I’m not saying don’t use them. I’m saying we definitely still need to use them.

But something that you need to be really aware of is that your testimonials might not necessarily be communicating the same message as the rest of your website.

I’m going to give you three ways in which your testimonials might actually be doing you more harm than good:

#1 Wrong Crowd

Do your testimonials represent the clients that you actually want to be working with? 

If you want to have a wide variety of clients, is that representative in your testimonials?

If your testimonials look like:

“Blah blah blah”, Laura, social media manager

“Hum-diddly-dee”, Lucy, social media manager

“Doo-bee doo dah”, Lucas, social media manager

You’re sending out quite a strong message that you only work with social media managers….even if the rest of your copy tries to explain otherwise.

So, if you are wanting to appeal to a broader audience, have you reflected that broader audience in the testimonials?

But similarly, if you have recently narrowed down your focus as to who you want to work with, if you’ve still got a website that lists all these different testimonials from all these people that don’t fit in that newly defined niche, then that’s going to be really confusing for someone looking on your website.

There’s this mismatch between what you’re communicating and what they’re seeing as evidence in your testimonials. 

#2 Products Passed Their Sell-By Date

The second way in which your testimonials can do more harm than good is if they are talking about products that you don’t sell anymore or don’t want to sell anymore.

That’s so easily done because we keep these testimonials, they say lovely things about us, and sometimes they’re scattered on social media or our home page - so even after we retire the offer sales page, the testimonials live on.

A prospect finds the testimonial, then they check out your sales pages and that thing isn’t there. There’s this mismatch between your testimonial and your website messaging.

This can keep you stuck delivering something that you don’t want to deliver because people see the testimonial and they think, oh, I’ll have a piece of that I want.

Then they message you and say, ‘Hey, I saw you did this for so-and-so. I would love that too’. And then it’s really hard to say no, because people are offering to give you money for something that you know how to do. And so then you’ve got that energy and time goes into deciding, do I go ahead and do something I don’t really want to do? Do I honor it cause they think I sell it?

#3 Boasting About Traits/Skills/Behaviours You Don’t Want To Trade On

The third way your testimonials can be undermining you is if they mention traits, skills or behaviours that you don’t want to encourage the use of. 

So many testimonials that say something about speed, deadlines or flexibility:

“Sarah was amazing. She turned the project around in record time after we had to bring our deadline forward”.

If you have an express service where you charge a lot more money because the deadline is tight, that’s where you would use a testimonial like that.

Otherwise, you are going to be attracting people who are last minute, haven’t thought things through, who are making their own poor planning your problem.

Praise for adapting to scope creep.

Praise for throwing in an additional skill that you have, just to get the project done (like a dash of copywriting just to get the website build finished).

Anything where you’re being praised for something that is outside the scope of how you want to be working - do not use that as a testimonial, because you’re just literally giving out this message that you love working for people who give you no notice, or ask you to do things you haven’t quoted for….and guess what you’ll attract into your business? More of that. 

It’s not just undermining your messaging. It’s actively encouraging people like that into your business. 

Adapting Past-Focused Testimonials For Your Future-Focused Website

You can either edit what you’ve got, or go back to the client and get something else.

You’ve got discretion over which bits of the testimonial that you use, so you can cut out mentions of anything you’d rather not boast about.

Or if you still have a relationship with that client, you can go back to them and  explain that you’re updating your website and send them specific questions for them to answer. And then you can use those answers to fashion into your own testimonial that works better with your new message (and check back that they are OK with it).

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