by Paige Burton-Argo on October 23, 2013

A well-written testimonial can be a huge asset for your organization. But asking your best clients/customers/advocates to take the time to sit down and write something this important is quite a request! If they say yes, they’ll be doing you a big favor and potentially impacting your success. To make this task as easy as possible, and to ensure they have what they need to write a jaw-dropping testimonial, follow these steps:

Step 1: Ask the person to include as much of the following information as possible.

  • Why were you looking for the product/service we offer?
    What need or problem did they have that made them search you out? The more specific, the better.
  • What made you choose us?
    There was something about you and your product/service that made an impression. Again, asking for details is good.
  • How has our product/service helped you or made your life better?
    In what ways has life been made easier for your client by using your product/service?
  • When you recommend us to others, what do you say?
    Sum it all up with a bang! Ask for a sentence or two about why you are the best choice, and why they would choose you all over again.

Step 2: Give them a word count and a deadline.
People are busy, so if you want them to take time for you, you have to provide some structure. Give a reasonable deadline (usually a couple of weeks is adequate), and an idea of how long you would like the testimonial to be. Aim for shorter — no more than a few paragraphs, or about 200 words. Knowing that you don’t expect an essay will ease some of the pressure!

Step 3: Put some thought into how you want to identify the person giving the testimonial.
Depending on your objectives, you can determine what’s important. Rather than only having a full name, some people will be more interested in position, industry, how long the person has been a customer, etc. For example, when we gather testimonials, we usually include a first name, position (to establish credibility), and industry (to show the diverse fields we work with). Just keep this in mind when you ask for the testimonial, so you can get the info you need up front.

Step 4: If you can, find examples in your industry of great testimonials.
Totally optional, but including some examples will give your clients an even better idea of what you expect from them. For instance, we recently created a website for a community foundation project. They asked for a guide to gathering testimonials, and we included samples of testimonials found on other community foundation websites. All it took was a simple Google search, using the term “community foundation testimonials.” Plug in your industry + “testimonials,” and you should be ready to roll.

Step 5: Don’t forget to say “thanks!”
Make sure the person who made this effort feels super appreciated! We recommend showering them with praise and chocolates, but you can let your conscience be your guide.

If you have any tips from your own experiences, please share them in the comments below — and best of luck in your testimonial gathering!