Testimonials and word of mouth is huge when it comes to selling anything or getting new clients. Many studies have shown that social proof is the biggest influence when people make a decision whether to buy a product or service or not.
A recent survey on online reviews by Bright Local found that:
- 88% of participants had read reviews to determine the quality of a local business
- 72% said that positive reviews make them more trusting of a local business
- 7 out of 10 consumers said they either visit or call a business after reading positive reviews
Great information, but what if you don’t have any testimonials or reviews? What do you do then? In today’s post, our experts share their answers to this question.
Q: Testimonials and “word of mouth” are important factors for getting new clients. But what do you do when you are first starting out?
Kathleen Prasad, Animal Reiki Source & SARA
Tip 1: Don’t be afraid to give it away!
Offer your service as a volunteer for staff and volunteers of a nearby nonprofit. They are doing good work in the community, and it will feel good for you to support them. If they like what they get, ask them to write you a short testimonial.
Tip 2: Make like-minded friends in the field!
Meet with professionals in complementary fields and offer a trade, service for service. If they like what they get, ask them to write you a short testimonial, and you can do the same for them.
Amy Snow, Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute
Getting started in a new acupressure-massage business can be challenging and exciting. Here are some things you can do to get the ball rolling:
- Send an email to everyone you know announcing your new business, include your website and all your contact information
- Send a media release to all the publications, TV, and radio stations in your area
- Contact all the animal breed clubs and organizations in your area to find if they have a newsletter you can write a short article
- Ask if /when the clubs and organizations have events and offer to do a demo and a short talk
- Have a table or booth at their shows and do demos there
- Are there other complementary practitioners you can set up a referral network?
- Equine practitioners can go to local barns, stables, or liveries and offer to do a half-day workshop
- Leave your cards or brochures at shops or animal care facilities
- Are there vet clinics who are open to complementary services?
- Tell people what you are doing and where you will be on your Facebook page
- Use social media to get the word out about your practice
- Have a party of friends and family and ask them for referrals, contacts, and ideas.
It is up to you to go after business. Take the time to write a marketing plan complete with goals, objectives, and specific tasks to be accomplished in a timeframe. Keep this marketing plan in front of you consistently so you can adjust it as needed. Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute has an inexpensive business planning online course which includes a detailed marketing plan format for you to fill out and use as a base. It is a useful tool and will help you stay on target.
The main thing to remember is to keep going and don’t let anything stop you. Being determined will get you where you want to go!
Theresa Gagnon, Mending Fences Animal Wellness
The only way to get that is to ask. “The best compliment you can give is a referral” is a phrase that some have printed on their business cards. You could also give discounts to current clients that give referrals.
The best way to get referrals is to be true to your profession. Always give your best effort, stay within your scope of practice, be reliable, don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know, but I can find out”, and don’t get involved in gossip. You build a reputation one client at a time. Generally, it takes about 3 years to build a good client base. Be patient and keep plugging away.
Cattie Coyle, Animal Wellness Guide and Cattie Coyle Photography
Definitely always ask for testimonials. If you don’t want to do it face to face, send a follow up / thank you email and take the opportunity to also ask if the client would be willing to write a short blurb where they share their experiences with you and your services.
Even if you find it uncomfortable to ask, it’s well worth it. I recently experienced the power of testimonials firsthand myself: I added customer testimonials to the listings for my greeting cards on Etsy and saw an immediate surge in sales. The testimonials had been there all along, but in a different place on the site; it was placing them right in the listing that made the difference.
This illustrates another important point: Once you get testimonials, make sure to place them in a spot where you have a call to action on your website / blog / store / brochure (i.e. a “Buy” button, or “Give us a call to schedule a consultation”, etc.).