How to write a testimonial that actually works

You’ve worked with a fellow Athena member, and she’s asked you to write her a testimonial to share on her website and social media. Of course, you’re happy to oblige. You want to give her a glowing review, but how do you write a testimonial that actually works?

Testimonials can act as sale tools

A testimonial isn’t just an opportunity to share how brilliant and amazing we think a fellow Athena member is. It’s a very powerful way for a business owner to connect with their ideal customers or clients. To speak to them in a language and at a level that they understand and can fully relate to. Ultimately, a testimonial can help a business owner attract more of their ideal clients. When done (and used) in the right way, it can be a very effective sale tool.

Testimonials come up a lot in the work I do with my own clients, especially when I write copy for someone’s Home page or About page. The problem is that a lot of the testimonials we see online or on social media aren’t as effective as they could be. And by sharing testimonials (online or offline) that don’t do our products or services justice, we’re missing real opportunities to make an impact on the people we’re trying to impress and attract (i.e. our ideal customers and clients).

Are all testimonials created equal?

For the purpose of this post, I made up a lovely Athena member called Denise. (If we do have a Denise in any of our groups, let me just say that any reference to real people is purely coincidental!). Two other Athena members (Member A and Member B) have recently hired Denise and written a testimonial for her.

So let’s have a look at these two examples.

Athena Member A says:

“Denise is amazing! I hadn’t worked with a professional Declutterer and Organiser before, but I’d definitely encourage all my friends and family to hire Denise. She’s friendly, knowledgeable, and very professional. She’s practical and knows what to do and how to best advise you. Denise helped me clear out and better organise my wardrobe, my living room, and my kitchen. I would definitely recommend her!”

Athena Member B says:

“Before hiring Denise, the house was always a mess – I’d walk into a room and see stuff everywhere. I was so frustrated and on edge all the time that I felt I couldn’t even relax in my own home. It literally felt suffocating. Working with Denise has completely changed all this. In just a couple of sessions, my place feels transformed! I feel relaxed and at ease – my home feels like an enjoyable and welcoming environment again. Even my partner has noticed a massive difference! If you feel the clutter in your home has taken over, give Denise a call.”

Of course, we can all agree on the fact that Denise is worth investing in. Both testimonials definitely paint her in a very good light. There’s no right or wrong here, but when I shared these two examples in our Chiswick group back in March, the second testimonial became a firm favourite. (Maybe because it has a call to action at the end?!). So what does the second testimonial do that the first one doesn’t do as well?

The traits of an effective testimonial

It shows the before and after

An effective testimonial shows the transformation – the before and after working with someone. Why? Because this helps a prospective customer or client who is in a similar situation to see themselves in that scenario. They’re experiencing what Member B is experiencing, and they also want the change and the results that she had. The fact that Member B got what she wanted (and more!) by working with Denise proves that her techniques and advice do work. And if Member B achieved the transformation she was after, they can too.

In copywriting terms, this is the ‘dread to dream’ scenario. As someone who’s crafting the testimonial, you can virtually take the reader through that journey – from where they are right now, including everything they want to change (dread), to where they want to get to (dream). Pretty powerful, right?

It’s emotionally charged

The second testimonial is full of feelings. It shows emotion, it’s honest and quite vulnerable, but because of that, it’s more relatable. Member B is (quite bravely) admitting that she felt frustrated, on edge, suffocated, and she couldn’t relax in her own home. When you read between the lines, you can also tell she wasn’t happy, she felt overwhelmed, and, because of the state her place was in, she was potentially having a few squabbles with her partner too. There’s a lot going on there for Member B!

But here’s why it works.

We make buying decisions emotionally, and then we back them up rationally. If you’re feeling much like Member B was feeling before working with Denise, her testimonial will speak to you on an emotional and subconscious level, rather than just on an intellectual level. You too, much like our lovely member, want to move away from those feelings and emotions. And as soon as you read Member B’s words, they’ll speak to you.

It’s more about you (the client) than it is about the business owner

Did you notice how most of the second testimonial has nothing to do with Denise? It focuses more on the member who’s giving the testimonial (in this case, the client) than on our pretend Declutterer and Organiser. Why?

If you think about it, as consumers, we’re a bit numb to words like ‘friendly and professional’, especially when reading reviews on social media or on someone’s website, where the business owner decides what content to publish. How do we know it’s true? And if you’re going to work with someone and spend your hard-earned cash, wouldn’t you expect them to be friendly and professional as the bare minimum?!

So let’s try and flip things around. Let’s talk more about how we felt and how working with this expert helped us. And the fact they’re knowledgeable and experienced will be taken care of when we show any prospective customers and clients that this person solved our problem.

Will you write an effective testimonial next time you’re invited to?

So next time a fellow Athena member asks you to write a testimonial for her, try to keep these points in mind. Make it more about you, the client, than about the business owner. Show, through your words and emotions, how working with this person has helped you get results and change your life. This way, you can be sure your testimonial will help a fellow Athena member attract more of her ideal customers or clients. And after all, isn’t that why we agreed to share an honest review in the first place?

This post was contributed by Sara Bussandri, Digital Content Writer and member of the Chiswick group.