Even though we may feel uncomfortable asking our clients for testimonials, when it comes to growing our businesses, we have to step up to the plate.
Testimonials are powerful. There’s no denying that. But I keep hearing from translators and interpreters who say they feel uncomfortable asking their clients for them. “Do you really think they will give me one? Am I overthinking this?” My response to these questions: “Yes and yes.”
We all purchase services or products and then receive messages to leave a review, so how is that different from asking a client for a testimonial? Why do we feel uncomfortable asking our clients to give us a few words of praise? I can only surmise that part of this discomfort stems from the nature of the work we do. We like to stay behind the scenes for the most part. But when it comes to growing our businesses, we have to step up to the plate and ask.
Your potential clients, just like you, want to make sure they’re purchasing a sound product or service. Who wouldn’t? That’s just one of the many reasons why providing client testimonials is an effective way to market your business. But you have to be smart about how you request and use testimonials so that one client’s words can influence the decision-making of another. Here are my top tips for leveraging testimonials for your business.
Testimonials from clients have much greater impact than those from colleagues. Show how you helped a client solve a problem. This is how other potential clients will be able to connect with the testimonial. They want to know what you’re capable of doing for them! If you simply share testimonials your colleagues write for you, then you’re not really showing those who pay for your services anything other than what your peers think. While peer support is important in other aspects of your business, the last thing you want is for a potential customer to think you’ve padded your testimonials with kind words from well-meaning friends.
Share a variety of testimonials (shoot for three to five!). The testimonials you receive from clients shouldn’t all say the same thing. They should definitely go into more detail than simply “She always delivers on time!” (Well, gosh, I hope so.) While on-time delivery may be a positive aspect of working with you, it’s not going to set you apart from others in your language pair or specialization. Make sure your testimonials have some substance to them and cover a range of positive experiences a client can expect if they choose to hire you.
Dedicate a very clear space for client testimonials on your website. You can choose to share one on every page or dedicate an entire page of your website to client testimonials. If you choose the latter, be sure to create a clear heading in your navigation menu. Don’t make it hard for clients to find testimonials about your work!
Translate testimonials into your target language only if your clients are contacting you in that language to begin with. I get asked this question fairly often and my answer is always the same. It doesn’t make sense to translate anything on your website unless your ideal clients are contacting you in that language from the start. Put your testimonials in the language your ideal clients speak and use when they enter search terms online.
Ask for them! This may be the one that so many people avoid: the “asking” part. The worst a client might tell you is that you haven’t worked with them long enough for them to give you a solid testimonial, or they don’t have time at the moment. In both scenarios, all you have to do is wait, work a little more for them on assignments, and then ask again. Is that really so bad? I don’t think so. Write to your top five clients today and ask them to write a testimonial. If they don’t have time, offer to write one for them to approve. A lot of clients actually prefer this, and some may even ask you to do this in response to your request!
Make sure your testimonials are brief and to the point. Whatever you do, don’t fill up your testimonials page with long-winded praise. Try to stick to around three sentences per testimonial. Anything longer than this means you run the risk of someone bypassing the testimonial altogether.
Be clear with clients about what you plan to do with their testimonials. Make sure clients understand where you’ll be using their names and testimonials. Try to use these on your website and any online profiles you use for business that allow for this type of content, like LinkedIn.
Offer to provide testimonials to others as a way to pay it forward. I’m not saying you should offer a testimonial exchange to clients, although that could be interesting. Instead, dedicate some time once a month to do others the favor of writing a testimonial for them. Other professionals appreciate the praise, too. Consider writing testimonials for your accountant, bookkeeper, instructors or trainers you’ve learned from in the past, other translators or editors you actually hire/pay for work, etc. Just remember to be careful that these don’t come off as friends doing each other the favor of padding each other’s testimonials page on a website!
Make it a point to ask for a testimonial once a month. That’s an easy business goal to set. And don’t feel badly about asking for testimonials. It’s a very common practice, and most people are more than happy to do it! Just make sure you also let them know by when you need the testimonial, as a lot of people don’t see this type of thing as a priority and may forget, or your request may get lost in their inbox.
Use testimonials wherever you can, even if it’s in the body of an email response. If a potential client reaches out to you and something they mention reminds you of a testimonial you received, it’s not awkward to share something like, “Oh, you have this issue, too? Here’s what another client said about the service I provided to them when they were in the same situation.” Slip a solid testimonial in where you can, but make sure it feels natural to do so. It’s not in poor taste to do some self-promotion like this. After all, you have a business to run!
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Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo is an ATA director and chair of the Membership Committee. She is the owner of Accessible Translation Solutions and a Spanish>English and Portuguese>English translator. She served as chair of ATA’s Public Relations Committee (2014–2018) and administrator of ATA’s Medical Division (2011–2015). She has a BA in Spanish from the University of Southern Mississippi and an MA in Spanish from the University of Louisville. She is also a consultant for the University of Louisville Graduate Certificate in Translation. You can read more of her articles on her blog at www.madalenazampaulo.com/blog. Contact: email@example.com.