Jan 03 2023 / Round the Table Magazine
By Mike Beirne
Consumers are looking for that stamp of approval when considering whether to buy a product or service, and they’re increasingly reliant on testimonials and reviews. When researching a purchase, 92% of consumers read online testimonials, according to BigCommerce, a provider of ecommerce platforms for merchants, and 79% said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to BrightLocal, a digital marketing agency.
As financial services professionals use client testimonials in their advertising, these endorsements are figuring more prominently when prospects choose an advisor. Gathering testimonials is a first step, and independent, third-party sites like Yelp and Google Reviews are a good place to find what satisfied customers have said about your service. (Check with the third party’s terms of service regarding any limitations on using testimonials from their site on the advisor’s site.)
But if the third-party site doesn’t have many or any testimonials about your practice, how do you collect authentic endorsements that you can use in your marketing? Sukanta Singha Roy, CFC, FSS, faced that dilemma. The nine-year MDRT member from Kolkata, India, knew testimonials posted on his website and other marketing outreach could help him stand out. He had no shortage of satisfied clients, and many had agreed to write an endorsement about his services. But they were stuck. They couldn’t find the right words, or what they wrote was too vague to be useful. So, he provided a nudge.
“Keeping a list of sample testimonials with you is essential and here’s why,” Singha Roy said. “When you send your sample testimonials to your client, the person can choose one of them and then customize it. They can build off the main idea of the sample and add specifically how they benefited from my service. This saves time for both parties and increases the efficiency of the process.”
But keep in mind that the testimonial samples should not be duplicated. If you send one client five examples of testimonials and one is used as a starting point, you should exclude that sample from examples you send when seeking testimonials from other clients.
“It is not about how fast you can use a testimonial, but about the variety and quality of testimonials you can post on your website,” Singha Roy said. “Keeping the customization option lets the client put their individuality in the testimonial even though the foundation has been provided. A testimonial can never be a testimonial if it does not have the individuality of the client. ”
The website for Singha Roy’s practice has a testimonial page with seven client testimonials posted, such as the actress who says her “financial planning and investment is on auto-pilot” and the director of a heating, air conditioner and refrigeration service provider who wrote that Singha Roy’s team “listens to customers and ensures recommendations are in line with customer expectations.” Testimonials should be an honest endorsement of your services from someone who benefited from your services. They work best when they:
- Are short and direct; long testimonials take too much time to read
- Mention specifics about the benefit delivered or the problem solved
- Use wording that is conversational and easy to understand
Advisors who solicit testimonials from clients should provide a disclosure notice with an opt out from publicly sharing their statement for marketing purposes. That step will show that the advisor clearly obtained consent from the person submitting the testimonial.
Get in motion
Video testimonials and shorts about financial products also are gaining traction. They can be a potent part of the advisor’s marketing toolbox since videos can be shared and go viral if the content is compelling. Consumers are twice as likely to share a video with a friend than they would other content like social media posts, blog posts, articles and product pages, according to an annual State of Video Marketing survey by Wyzowl, an international video production company. Singha Roy’s website has at least six animated videos shorter than five minutes long about complex products such as mutual funds, equity-linked savings and investment plans.
“We all know that there is a large percentage of website visitors and clients who have always preferred audio-visual content over reading. Reading takes time and effort while watching a video doesn’t,” Singha Roy said. “If you are given roughly 10 minutes to decide whether to choose one service, ask yourself, would you find that reading or watching a video to be helpful at that point? Most would say the video.”
When creating video testimonials, Singha Roy prefers to do so with the client in front of him.
“It can be at the client’s home or my office,” he said. “What I usually do is, invite them for lunch or dinner and then start a conversation about things that can be said in the testimonials. But the important thing is the client is present in front of you while you record the video. This way you can instill in the client to bring out real information and induce good remarks about you in the testimonial. It also boosts their confidence, and the testimonials turn out the way you want them to be.”
He added that your target audience’s preference is what matters here. If most of your audience prefers reading, use written testimonials. If your audience prefers video, offer that.
“Testimonials are a complete game changer. It is one great strategy to achieve success in our field because they serve both the prospect and the advisor. Testimonials help the potential client find useful information and benefit the advisor by showcasing what the customer is looking for,” Singha Roy said.