Testimonials are a powerful way to drive your franchise sales as well as product and service sales for your individual franchisee locations. But as with many things, one size does not fit all and one testimonial will not serve for all your business purposes.

Content Marketing 101

The proven content marketing strategy of creating content for a specific target audience applies to testimonials in a big way. A testimonial that will influence a prospective franchise owner is not the same testimonial that will bring customers into your franchise locations. Each audience is looking for a different result and, to be effective, a testimonial should:
  • Focus on meeting the needs or answering the questions of that unique audience.
  • Be easy to find; don’t treat testimonials like buried treasure. Have a dedicated page, or insert testimonials throughout your website when compatible with the content.
The Rainbow International Restoration franchise does this perfectly by promoting their testimonials with its own tab on the home page, offering “Real Life Stories” and “Before and After Photos.”

Prospective franchise buyers also have an easy task of finding franchisee testimonials. Rainbow’s franchise home page features franchisee testimonials, including scrolling comments (mini-testimonials), franchisee’s stories and a live online chat option for questions or comments.

Elements of an Impactful Testimonial

Since testimonials are supposed to encourage customers to buy your product or service, a testimonial should be more than just an “attaboy!” pat on the back. A truly useful testimonial should demonstrate how a common problem can be encountered by anyone (Joe) and then eventually solved by specific or defined action. In other words, it should demonstrate what a customer or prospective franchisee can expect to gain or achieve with your franchise. Testimonials, whether text, audio or video, should:
  • Call out a specific problem.
  • Explain how they were trying to fix the problem, but failed.
  • Detail how your product or service solved the problem.
  • Clearly state a specific result.
  • Be absolutely truthful; don’t fabricate stories.
  • Communicate the value delivered.
  • Identify the speaker so readers/hearers can relate.
  • Set your product/service apart from the competition.
This customer testimonial from Caring Senior Service franchise touches on the above points:

“My name is Bryan Johnson and I recently used Caring Senior Services to help take care of my wife in our home. She was dealing with terminal cancer. I was extremely pleased with the service and care provided. They were very professional in all aspects of care provided. They were always punctual and treated my wife and other family members with the utmost respect. They established a rapport with my wife that made her passing much easier than expected and with dignity. Based on the experience I and my family observed I would strongly recommend them. (Byron - Bloomington, IL)”

Likewise, a franchise owner from Yogurtland provided a testimonial with important information for prospective buyers:

“My experience with Yogurtland could not be more positive. I’ve felt very supported by the corporate team throughout every step. From finding ideal location opportunities to marketing against competitors, Yogurtland has given me all the resources and expertise to make growing my business enjoyable and profitable. (Ken Lee – San Diego Yogurtland 2009 Franchisee of the year)”

Both of these testimonials demonstrate the value received from their affiliation with the franchise.

How to Get Good Testimonials

So how do you get useful feedback in this era of 140 character Tweets, abbreviations as communication (LOL, TTYL) and images instead of words?

You ask.

Franchisee testimonials are probably easier to come by than customer testimonials since talking business and strengthening bonds between the franchisor and franchisee remain pivotal aspects of the business model. Plus, a successful franchisee is usually more than happy to share their experience with those looking for a similar opportunity, as well as to help further the overall success of the company. A few directive questions can guide a franchisee into a powerful testimonial for textual or video presentation.

Customer testimonials can be acquired by various means.
  • A structured email with specific questions about the experience can get useful information.
  • Taking before and after pictures (with customer’s permission) and adding their commentary at the end of the job/experience can provide good content.
  • Frame questions to guide the customer response so areas of interest are covered and important details are mentioned. Such as describing the problem and praising the solution.
  • Provide online contact or comment links to encourage customer feedback.
  • Provide a “how did we do?” type of survey/questionnaire for customer use.
  • Promote customer use of online review sites such as Yelp to collect feedback and testimonials.
On the home page, Melting Pot Restaurant has a fabulous “video booth” link where you can hear customer comments in response to specific questions that were actually recorded onsite. It’s very well done and generates energy and lots of goodwill for the franchise.

Be sure to constantly update your testimonials so content stays fresh and relevant. A 2008 customer comment many have been fabulous, but current information will be more engaging and impactful. Knowing the level of satisfaction your customers are experiencing TODAY will help close that sale.

Remember that there are legalities involved in using testimonials, so checking with your legal advisors is always wise. As a (very) quick summary: only use what is true and reflects typical user experience, have permission to quote the person and use their words, disclose any compensation paid or established business/financial relationship, identify the person speaking and date of the testimonial.
  • Testimonials provide a track record of your brand’s accomplishments in growth and sales.
  • They can shorten the buying cycle by answering questions early in a prospect’s search.
  • Customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating in content marketing.
  • Word of mouth is powerful and sharable.
  • Testimonials relate prospects to existing customers, “He’s just like me…!”
  • Testimonials present a credible, unbiased recommendation for your product or service.
If you’re not using testimonials in both franchise sales and product/service promotion, you are missing a valuable and inexpensive tool in your marketing tool box.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock