A testimonial can be a powerful tool to persuade people into purchasing a product or service and must be well-thought-out and well-written. If a testimonial appears less than truthful, it may actually harm your reputation and your audience will think everything in your ad, mailer or website is fake as well. Anything that sounds unbelievable will appear insincere or dishonest and reflect directly on your corporate values.

It’s perfectly okay to ask your customers for testimonials. Make sure to ask if you may include their identity before you publish anything and include the customer’s full name and location. If they are speaking for a business, include that name as well. If they have a website, link it to your testimonial to add credibility. A photo of the person is also important just make sure that the picture appears to be the real person and not too much like a picture perfect model.

A testimonial must be specific and not just talk about how wonderful your company is, or how well you do what you do. They must answer how you are different from the competition and how your product or service will benefit them, solve a problem or add value in some way. A prospect must be able to relate to your satisfied client and the story they are telling.

The testimonial should be readable if you want it to do its job. Try to keep the copy to three lines of text or less. If a customer gives you a very long letter, edit it to a few comments and then ask for their approval on the edits.

Asking for a testimonial from your client is a great way to strengthen your business relationship with them because it shows that you value their opinion and believe others will as well. Start gathering and using testimonials now as a part of your customer service program to build goodwill with existing clients and add new business along the way.