This is another in my series of articles for newbie copywriters, helping you get words to work for you. This time, instead of talking about how to write turbo-charged copy, I’m going to reveal a secret for ethically getting testimonials even if you’re just starting and haven’t yet written any copy commercially. We’ve all been there, right?
Every copywriting manual, book, CD, seminar or whatever tells you to ask for testimonials and put them on your sales page, or at least to say who can give a testimonial. But how can you do that if you haven’t sold any copy?
One way would be to make it up. I recently came across a piece of copy stuffed with testimonials for a seminar, one of them was from me. The testimonial I gave was heartfelt. It was a great seminar with Topher Morrison and a galaxy of other internet marketing stars giving value-laden presentations. All I’d have to do would be to point you to that webpage, and all you’d have to do would be to grab some of those testimonials, perhaps mine, adapt it to your needs, and hey presto!
But don’t do it! Never tell a lie in business! Definitely put the best spin you can on your product or service. That’s legitimate selling. But don’t go over the edge and make up testimonials you haven’t earned. I’ve met people who brag on doing that. But don’t take that easy way out.
Firstly, lying — for that’s what it is — is wrong. No two ways about it. In some cases it can get you in trouble with the law — and no one wants a spell in jail. Claiming a testimonial you haven’t earned can also get you mightily embarrassed with your friends, business associates and potential customers. Then, as well, doing something that gets copywriting a bad name is bad for all of us Business is built on trust. And trust is built on truth. Tell the truth about yourself. You needn’t emphasize, or even mention you’re a newbie, but don’t start down the path of telling lies. They have a way of catching up with you.
Just leave out anything that goes farther than you’ve actually got. Indeed, somewhere in your publicity material, you could make a virtue of necessity. You could say, for instance: Highly-qualified and experienced English teacher adds copywriting to her wide repertoire of skills. Launching this month, my copywriting service will specialize in, etc. You could then add some testimonials you have earned for previous work.
That’s all fine and dandy, I hear you say. But what’s the solution for me? I don’t have any testimonials. The solution is to use what I call conditional testimonials.
Conditional testimonials work like this. They use words like could, should and would. Suppose you ask a business for a copywriting commission. You might be told they have no need of copy just now but they would call on you if they had. Or you could ask a friend and be told, “I wish I could buy some copy from you.” Or you could talk it over with someone and get the response: ‘Yes. You’re so good. People should get their copy from you.” See. You’ve got testimonials — conditional testimonials — and you can use these in your advertising. Just ask the people who said those things if you may quote them and refer people to them. Most likely they’ll be glad to help if you share your problem with them.
Then, as you earn real testimonials — and you should always ask for a testimonial from anyone you write copy for — you can replace the conditional testimonials with unconditional ones. It’s unconditionally simple, easy, ethical and almost as effective to use conditional testimonials when you’re a newbie as it will be to use the unconditional ones you’ll earn when your copywriting business is fully up and running.