freelance copywriter, copywriting tips, white papers, freelance commercial writer

Testimonials are a freelance copywriter’s best friend. Talk about a tool that makes our jobs easier AND makes the finished product more persuasive and with measurable results, the testimonial is it.

I can sing the praises of testimonials all day long. But how, exactly, do they help a freelance copywriter do his or her job more effectively? Let me count the ways:

  1. Massive Credibility. Let’s face the facts. To the public, all marketers, freelance copywriters, advertisers and sales people are liars until proven otherwise. And even then, there is a strong tendency to believe that we are just slicker liars who haven’t been caught. Yet.

    But testimonials are endorsements from real people that readers can relate to. And when these people tell their own experiences with our product or service, their endorsements are irrefutable.

    This is the power of third party endorsements. Real people, telling about real problems that were solved by our product or service, is awesomely believable.

  2. Transferred Trust. Once a reader accepts the credibility of your satisfied customer, they are then willing to transfer that trust to you and your product.

    Think about what they have just seen. A third party has just told them you are great and your product is great. This third party is just like their next door neighbor telling them over the backyard fence that you can be trusted to do good work, create a good product and you will stand behind your work. If they trust their next door neighbor, that recommendation transfers that trust to you.

  3. Testimonials are Evidence. Years ago, Sears used to run ads that were essentially long testimonials of people who had remarkable experiences with a Sears Craftsman Tool. Sears has always claimed these tools are guaranteed for life, but what does this guarantee mean? These testimonials prove the lifetime guarantee in a way Sears could never do with just claims.

    In the testimonials, people brought their tools back to Sears after decades of hard use. I recall one story about a wrench that had been underwater for years. But when the owner found it and brought it back to Sears, it was replaced with no questions asked.

    The lesson here is that Sears backed its claim with a true first person story, told by a more-than-satisfied customer. Testimonials prove your claims are not just empty words. Everything else is just puffery.

  4. Social Proof. Not to be confusing here, but I am using the word “proof” in a slightly different way than the word “evidence” in the section above. “Social Proof” has to do with persuasion based on what we see others doing.

    When you see ads that say, “over 100,000 customers have bought our product,” or you see an ad for a hospital’s obstetrics department with pictures of many happy mothers and their babies, you are seeing social proof used as a way to persuade others to join the group.

    In a previous article, Freelance Copywriter Secrets: Social Proof-An Awesome Copywriting Tool, I explained that social scientists have observed that people tend to conform their behavior to what they see others doing (I don’t really think you have to be a social scientist to observe that, but let’s move on).

    Social Proof is how we determine what is “correct” behavior in an unfamiliar setting. In his book, Influence: Science and Practice, Robert Cialdini found that social proof is an especially powerful persuader when the subject feels a connection or commonality to the people he or she observes.

    This is why photographs work so well with testimonials. Go back to the ad for a hospital’s obstetrics department. Suppose you are writing this piece. Your target “customer” is a young mother-to-be to whom one hospital seems no better and no worse than the next.

    What makes her choose your hospital over all the others who could probably do just as competent work in delivering her baby? Seeing those pictures of actually women, and reading their adjoining testimonials about how your hospital’s staff was caring and helpful and made them feel safe convinces her that only your hospital can do all those things for her. This is the power of social proof.

If you were to take away every tool or technique most freelance copywriters use to write their copy, except testimonials, we could still write powerful and persuasive ad copy. Remember, a few words from a real person carries more authority than a whole page written by the most eloquent professional writer.

freelance copywriter, copywriting tips, white papers, freelance commercial writer

COPYRIGHT(C)2006, Charles Brown. All rights reserved.


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