IMAGINE you have just received an amazingly positive testimonial from a superbly happy client. After you have basked in the glow for a moment of two, you immediately add it to your website, right?

Actually, if you are anything like most business people, you probably won’t do anything with it. Some people might print it out and file it away in a “Nice Feedback” folder that almost never sees the light of day.

Some might even go so far as to add it to the “Testimonials” page on their website. But most won’t do anything with it at all.

Testimonials and endorsements are massively valuable. Research suggests they are at least eight times more powerful and persuasive than an advertisement or anything businesses or individuals say about themselves. So why don’t we use them more effectively?

For some people, it’s not in their nature to talk about themselves. They are flattered by the feedback but don’t feel they should shout too loudly about it. Some may feel slightly embarrassed, others simply take it on board and either don’t know how to, or simply don’t find the time, to use it to their advantage.

Testimonials and feedback from clients and others are so valuable that if we ignore them, not only are we doing ourselves an injustice, we are also likely to do our current and potential clients an injustice.

If you provide outstanding products or services that meet people’s needs, surely the more people who know about you and can benefit from you, the better?

If you want to reduce the amount of time and money you spend on advertising and promotion, and positively profile yourself more effectively, you need to gather testimonials on an ongoing basis and make them work hard for you.

Finding the right space

So where should you put them? Depending on the type of products or services you provide, consider using them in or on:

    * Fliers, brochures and advertisements: Stop talking about yourself and let others speak for you. Ensure at least 30 to 40 per cent of the space available is taken up by testimonials from happy clients.
    * Your e-mail signature: Add a short testimonial (perhaps changing it monthly) beside your contact details to turn your e-mail signature into a significantly more powerful promotional tool.
    * The back of your business card: Stop promoting your features and benefits, or worse, leaving your business card blank. Instead, let a happy client explain why someone you give your business card to should get in touch with you.
    * Every page of your website: Ensure there is at least one testimonial on each page of your website so no matter what page someone is on, he will see what others are saying about you (especially if he fails to click on the “Testimonials” page).
    * Your testimonials page: This almost goes without saying, but you may be surprised how infrequently testimonial pages are updated. Ensuring you have recent testimonials on your website will also help your search engine optimisation.
    * Proposals and pitch documents: Back up what you are saying about how marvellous you think you are by including relevant feedback from others at appropriate points throughout the document.
    * Annual and other reports: If you report regularly to a board or any kind of stakeholder group, include plenty of testimonials to demonstrate just how great you are and remind the people you are reporting to, to continue to support, recommend or fund you.
    * Invoices and estimates: A single, powerful testimonial on an invoice or estimate is a  reminder of why the company or person about to pay the bill should engage or pay promptly without you having to spell it out directly.
    * Posters for your wall: Seeing a growing range of positive testimonials every day will encourage you to continue doing a really great job and also provide assurance to visitors to your workplace.
    * Appropriate signage: A few short words on the back of your car or company vehicle may make the difference between the driver behind making a point of remembering your web address or forgetting it completely.

This is not an exhaustive list but a prompt to help you think about how you might benefit from including or displaying testimonials and endorsements.

No doubt you will be able to think of others that may be more relevant to you. Be creative. Get into the habit of asking yourself: “Could a testimonial enhance this?”

If the answer is “Yes”, and you have permission to use it from the person who gave it to you, then add it in.