If you are a meetings industry supplier, your website should feature a collection of testimonials from past clients who are happy to tell the world what a great job they saw you do on your last conference or meeting. But if a testimonial lacks a basic level of social proof, it does more harm than good.
Consumer Internet investor Aileen Lee defines social proof as “the positive influence created when someone finds out that others are doing something.” Although that explanation is pretty general, the power of social proof is in the specifics:
- Does the testimonial just say that you’re fabulous, or does it say why?
- Does it just lay out what you did, or describe the specific return the client received on his or her investment in your product or service?
- Is the information in the testimonial qualitative, quantitative, or a bit of both?
- At its most basic…does the testimonial include the name and affiliation of the person who provided it?
In an age when LinkedIn makes it easier than ever to give testimonials, it’s never been more important to get this right. When you’re asked for a referral, remember that a proper business-to-business testimonial provides just the facts—what the vendor did, and why it mattered. It refers only to your direct experience, based on qualities and behaviours you’ve observed directly, and it tells the story as fully and clearly as possible.
Some hotels, CVBs and other hospitality and meetings industry organization have told me they don’t want to name clients, for fear that competitors will go after an important source of business. Baloney, I say. If your testimonial sources are that fragile, you may not want to quote them in the first place.
Your business objective with any contract is to leave the client so thoroughly delighted that they would never think of looking elsewhere—and that’s the story you want every testimonial to tell. That’s why I love ads for the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, who name and even show a picture of their clients with their testimonial!