Why You Shouldn't Rely on Testimonials to Impress Clients

[stextbox id=”alert” float=”true” align=”left” width=”375″ bcolor=”8b0000″ bgcolor=”f5f5f5″]This is the first in a short series of blog posts inspired by the Forbes.com article “The 7 Major Trends Shaping Your Business or Career”. As business owners, it’s important to pay attention to trends and find ways to adapt or adopt, depending on the circumstances.[/stextbox]

It used to be that a few well written, favorable testimonials on your website or in your brochure copy could convince people that you were great at what you do.  Those days are long gone.

We no longer rely on the restaurant critic in the newspaper to tell us what’s good. Not when we can visit Yelp or pull up our UrbanSpoon app and get hundred’s or thousands of people’s opinions.  Fodor’s is no longer the be all, end all of travel recommendations. And unlike our grandparents who relied on Walter Cronkite for their news, we have HuffPost, Twitter and more.

So what does that mean for businesses who rely on that handful of hand-picked testimonials to convince people they’re the best ones for the job?

It means that one or two ‘expert testimonials’ aren’t going to cut it.  People are used to judging expertise in other ways now.  Many businesses will be able to utilize sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, UrbanSpoon and AVVO (for lawyers). Of course, those of you who do so will need to be ready when a bad review gets posted. The best way to do that is to have a plan of action long before that first bad review hits.  But what if Yelp, Google Local or other public review sites aren’t really a fit for your business?

For example, my business has been listed on Yelp for years, but the nature of my services really isn’t something people go to Yelp to review.  Are those of us in this situation left to hope that testimonials will cut it?  Not at all.  For us, we have the opportunity to show the public we know our stuff in other ways.

  1. Blogging.  I know it’s been over-preached, but blogging is a great way to build trust in you and in your ability to provide services to others.
  2. Social Media. If you interact with your clients on social media and they are happy, they’ll let other know.
  3. Answering questions.  You can answer questions within your scope of expertise on social media, forums, Facebook and LinkedIn groups. When your answers are solid and helpful, you’ll build trust. And a reputation for knowing your stuff.

Does this mean the testimonial is useless?

Absolutely not! Great testimonials still carry a lot of weight when people are checking out your business.  While the popularity of public review sites isn’t likely to lessen anytime soon, a smart combination of trust building features will level the playing field in the changing business landscape.


Tina Marie Hilton provides online technology services to forward thinking businesses. She writes on her Tips from T.Marie business blog to share insight and information with other small businesses and entrepreneurs. It also makes her feel like that certificate in creative writing isn't going to waste completely.