Janet Mobley was working with an auto repair shop to improve the shop’s marketing efforts. Mobley, the owner of marketing and graphic design firm FatCat Strategies, Raleigh, N.C., and a 16-year marketing veteran, suggested to the shop’s owners that they use customer testimonials to supplement their marketing. But the owners, Mobley says, were not comfortable gathering testimonials. At that point, the office manager opened a desk drawer and brought out a handful of cards, thank-you notes for many jobs well-done. The owners had the material for testimonials already; they just didn’t think of the cards in those terms. And that’s a lesson for senior advisors.
Thank you very much
Seniors may be among the last people in the country who actually take the time to write thank-you cards. The more tech-savvy among them may even send thank-you e-mails. Either way, those notes of thanks represent one great way to gather customer testimonials: Take advantage of the praise you get without even asking for it. If a client sends a card with a glowing sentiment written inside, get her permission to repackage it as a testimonial and get it into your marketing materials and on your Web site.
To get clients interested in sending notes of thanks, advisors have to be sure to take care of rule No. 1 in the testimonial game…
1. Earn it. The best–and most difficult, but worth it–way to garner customer testimonials is to make yourself worthy. Be the advisor you claim to be and your clients expect. Promise the moon and the stars, then deliver the moon, the stars and the planets.
“The No. 1 way to get testimonials,” Mobley says, “is by offering great customer service. Financial professionals are in the helping profession. They’re doing their job best when they are genuinely trying to help solve clients’ problems.”
The auto repair shop wasn’t even trying to gather testimonials, didn’t feel compelled to do so and yet the owners had a drawer full of them when the time came. Simply by doing a great job and offering exceptional customer service, the shop was a testimonial-generating machine. Advisors have the capability to do the same thing — with people’s money, their most valuable asset.
2. Use their words. Whether you take great notes during a meeting or record the proceedings — with client permission — never let a moment of praise go undocumented. If a client says something that strikes you as testimonial-worthy, be sure to get it down so it can be presented to the client later.
Being an advisor is all about coaching, and testimonials are just another area where clients may need that coaching. “There’s nothing wrong with helping them along with the words,” says Jeff Kopitz, president of the National Ethics Bureau, in Carlsbad, Calif. “But definitely get their OK. Make sure they are comfortable with the wording, and get permission to use their name.”
In fact, failing to get permission from clients to use their words in your marketing is one omission that could cost you. Kopitz sees it as a big ethical breach, one that is so easy to avoid. (For more mistakes to avoid in gathering testimonials, see sidebar at left.) While Kopitz suggests that using a full name and city of residence is most effective, bashful clients might be placated with a first name, last initial arrangement.
Phone conversations are another time clients will extol an advisor’s virtues, so be ready to capture those sentiments, too. Mobley says that advisors who’ve made testimonials a regular part of their marketing plans will be less likely to miss these opportunities.