Testimonials: Almost Their Own Words
Over the past year or more, a Lincoln bank has run a series of testimonial ads that features their customers. I saw the latest version begin its run in the newspaper last week.
These are good-size ads, typically six inches high by eight wide and sometimes larger. Each has a short headline, a photo of the customers (one or two), and the copy consists almost entirely of their personal testimonials explaining how the bank helped their real-life financial situations.
I’ve enjoyed reading these ads. They’re a perfect storytelling promotion, and we know storytelling appeals to people. Their warm, personal stories almost make readers say, “Hey, that’s what I want.”
The key to the success of the ads is the personal language style used. They always sound like the people are telling me their stories face-to-face.
But I was disappointed with the recent ad. Why? Because even though the young husband and wife in the photo are appealing, the ad lacks its usual personal touch. See for yourself. Here’s the last paragraph:
“We’ve been at different ends of the spectrum — from newlywed students who were just starting out to now, being successful in our respective careers. Through it all, we’ve been the same people to Union Bank. They treat us for who we are. And we respect that.”
It’s not bad copy or great copy. If it weren’t a testimonial, I’d probably let it pass. But these are supposed to be words from the mouths of this nice, smiling, All-American couple.
How often do you use the word “spectrum” in your conversation with friends? Or, “respective careers”?
When you’re creating a testimonial or editing one submitted by a customer, forget about pleasing your fifth-grade English teacher. (Or in my case, my scary eight-grade English teacher.) Write a testimonial like “normal” conversation. No thesaurus-generated language.
Here’s what I mean. Here’s the testimonial paragraph above rewritten to sound more conversational.
“Our life has changed so much. We’ve gone from being newlywed students to being a family with kids and successful careers. During all this time, Union Bank has treated us with the same respect and has always given us the kind of service we really appreciate. It means a lot to us.”
Better? Which sounds more like it came out of someone’s mouth instead of off a computer screen?
So my point is this: Use testimonials, but don’t use any that are stilted or read like they’re being submitted for an English class assignment. They won’t sound authentic. People won’t believe them.
If you can’t smooth out the copy yourself, get a professional copywriter to help you — and don’t let the copywriter get away with stilted-sounding copy.
Testimonials will draw attention to your company. Make them as inviting and effective as possible.