Testimonial Talents – Securing Sweet Somethings

As Valentine’s Day approaches, you cherish the sweet little things your loved ones say to you… but do you keep a file of the nice things your satisfied clients say? You should. Word-of-mouth marketing is essential for real estate success, so why not help spread “the good word” yourself? If you think that you don’t have testimonials, you may not be looking in the right places. If you don’t have a file in your marketing folder called “testimonials,” chances are good that you are missing golden opportunities.

How Do I Collect Testimonials?

Pay attention. When someone says something nice to you, thank them and ask them immediately if you may use their flattering words in your marketing materials. Most people are so pleased that you would want to quote them, they will agree.

Then next step is to jot down the exact wording. Do NOT rely on your memory. Write it down. Also write down who said it, when they said it and a brief sketch of the circumstances. For instance:

John Smith (who bought the Gellar property on 8th street in November) said “I don’t know what we would have done without you, you made our move across the country easier than our last move across town! Jane and I can’t thank you enough.” – February 7, 2005 over lunch at the Wheeler Café in Oldstown when discussing his sister’s (Julie’s) upcoming wedding. John Smith 223.456.1234 – john@myisp.com – works at Brainy Electronics in Southview.

If you get an e-mail from a client, or a letter with praise and kind words – print them off and highlight the quotes you like best and drop them in your testimonials file. Don’t wait, do it immediately.

Get Permission in Writing

When you are planning to use someone’s name, you need permission and you need proof that you have permission. With a verbal testimonial, you can get permission on the spot, but you still need to follow up to get the written form.

With a letter you will need to ask for written permission as well. For an e-mail, you can simply reply to the e-mail asking for permission and print off their reply for your testimonials folder.

Consider these permissions legal documents, because that’s what they are. You are getting documented permission to use their name and their words to promote your business. Don’t skip this step.

How Do I Ask?

I find that e-mail is the best way to make the request. It’s less stilted than writing a letter and expecting them to sign it giving permission and remember to send it back. It is less of an intrusion on your clients if they need only to hit “reply” and say “Sure! Feel free to use that quote.”

To ask, you need to ask right away. That doesn’t mean that you can’t ask for permission to use older quotes, but the sooner it’s handled, the less explaining and “staging” you will have to do to remind them. The sooner you ask, the more likely they will be to remember the quote you reference and to give their permission. For example with the case listed above, I would e-mail the following request:

Dear John –

It was wonderful to see you again and I’m happy to hear that Julie and Joe are planning to wed this spring. Sounds like you and Jane are settling in well here in Oldtown. I wanted to make sure you were still willing to let me use the following quote in my web and print marketing materials:

“I don’t know what we would have done without you, you made our move across the country easier than our last move across town! Jane and I can’t thank you enough.”
-John Smith Resident of Oldtown

It was so kind of you to say, and I want to let others know that I can help make their move easier too.

Thanks again for letting me know that I made a difference for you and Jane, it makes my work even more rewarding. If I can ever be of service to you, to Julie and Joe, or to anyone you know who may be planning a move, just give me a call.

Thanks and have a great day,

Joe Agent

For an older more “stale” testimonial, you will have to “set the stage” a bit more, and there’s always the risk that your client may not remember. In the example above, if it happened six months ago, you would have to add more information:

Dear John –

I saw Julie’s wedding announcement in the paper on Sunday and it reminded me of our lunch at the Wheeler Café back in the summer, when you first told me she and Joe were getting married. Six months certainly passes quickly these days!

It also reminded me of your kind words that afternoon and since I’m currently updating my marketing plan for the new year, I wanted to ensure that you were still willing to let me use the following in my web and print materials:

“I don’t know what we would have done without you, you made our move across the country easier than our last move across town! Jane and I can’t thank you enough.”

-John Smith Resident of Oldtown

It was so kind of you to say, and I want to let others know that I can help make their move easier too.

Thanks again for letting me know that I made a difference for you and Jane, it makes my work even more rewarding. If I can ever be of service to you, to Julie and Joe, or to anyone you know who may be planning a move, just give me a call.

Thanks and have a great day,

Joe Agent

Starting from Scratch

If you haven’t been collecting testimonials and if you don’t have a file with those nice things people say, don’t worry. All is not lost. You can be more proactive to collect them and improve your customer service at the same time.

Since this is the beginning of a New Year, it’s a good time to ask clients to help you improve your service with an e-mail request:

Dear John –

I hope you and Jane are doing well and that Sarah is enjoying school.

I’m writing today to ask for your help. Every year I like to do a self-review of my professional performance. Knowing what I did that helped my clients and where I can improve will help me to improve my service for others. Please respond candidly to the following questions:

  • In what area(s) was/were your real estate transaction most difficult?
  • What could I have done to make this easier for you?
  • What areas were most enjoyable?
  • What role did I play (if any) in making this more enjoyable?

I do thank you for taking the time to help me conduct my service self-review and for permitting me to help you with your real estate needs in 2004.

Please call me if you have any questions, or if I can be of any service in the future.

Best wishes for an enjoyable 2005,

Joe Agent

Testimonials are effective marketing tools for any business and are especially important in service industries like real estate. Now is the time to start your own testimonial collection or it may simply be time to update and existing one.

Either way, saving testimonials and securing permissions means you have more arrows in your marketing quiver. Why should Cupid be the only one hitting the “bull’s eye” this month?

© Copyright 2005 by Angela Allen Parker of Wicked Wordcraft

This article first appeared in the February 2005 “Word Magic” column at www.epowernews.com.

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