Six marketing tips in letting your customers speak for you
We all know positive reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations in the trades are essential marketing tools. Reviews and testimonials, whether written or visual, are designed to instill trust and confidence in your business by highlighting real-life customer experiences with your services. And the value of customers serving as ambassadors for your business can’t be overstated.
In a study by Wyzowl, 9 out of 10 people say they trust what a customer says about a business more than what that business says about itself, and 2 out of 3 people say they’d be more likely to make a purchase after watching a testimonial video demonstrating how a business, product or service had helped another person like them. Moreover, according to BigCommerce, 72% of consumers said positive reviews and testimonials make them trust a business more, while 88% trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations.
In other words: Like businesses in most service industries, painting contractors highly rely on customer reviews and testimonials.
While many customers will take the time to offer online reviews of your business, you can’t simply sit back and rely on all customers to be motivated to share their warm sentiments. That’s where testimonials come in most handy. It’s up to you to nurture positive relationships with your customers, elicit testimonials and capitalize on them to help your business grow. Ignoring an opportunity for a testimonial means leaving money on the table.
But what makes a testimonial effective? Should the focus be on quality or quantity? And what’s the most efficient way to capture them when time is limited? Here are a few tips on how to make the most of what your customers have to say about you.
- Don’t be afraid to ask.
Painting is about craft. But growth is about relationships. Even if you feel confident in your business marketing savvy, it may feel awkward to ask a homeowner or business client to go on the record with their thoughts about you. But the benefits are worth pushing beyond your comfort zone. And in most cases, simply ask and you shall receive. So how do you ask for a testimonial? Be direct and respectful and offer context. One example: Positive reviews and recommendations from customers like you are key to helping us grow our business. Would you be willing to answer a couple of questions about our services for our marketing efforts?
- Start with your best customers.
Repeat customers are almost a given—you already know they’re happy with the quality of your work and they’re most likely pleased enough that they’re willing to support you with an on-the-record recommendation. For first-time customers, it’s fairly easy to spot who’s exceptionally satisfied with your services. Use that positivity as leverage for a testimonial request. In all other cases, see #1 above.
- Make it easy. And timely.
People are busy—that’s often why they’ve hired you—so don’t make them work hard to give you a testimonial. If you’re able to get it onsite and in person right after the job wraps, that’s ideal. It helps with efficiency since your service will be fresh in their minds and a face-to-face Q&A will offer more personality in their responses than a survey after the fact. Record a quick video on your smartphone of your customers responding to questions about your work and their interactions with you and your staff. Or, if they’re uncomfortable on camera, you can simply record them in a voice memo to use as a written testimonial. And if schedules don’t align for an in-person testimonial, try to nail down a time to follow up via phone for a quick quote or two.
Christian Militello and his Militello Painting team often capture testimonial videos at jobsites around the Philadelphia metro area, where they’re based. The videos are quickly produced and raw, but they help establish credibility by showing real customers, and they lend an air of authenticity and trust to the Militello Painting brand.
And for efficiency to help make production efforts more efficient, Militello says he includes collecting testimonials as a part of his training regimen. That allows the responsibility of testimonial collecting to be spread out among multiple crew members.
“Our employees at the crew leader level have the skills to collect testimonials, right alongside other business-related skills like running company meetings, coaching others, ordering paint for delivery and operating project management software,” Militello explains.
- Ask specific, leading questions—but be brief.
The goal here is to maximize what you get out of your customers’ description of your services.
Asking, for example, “what did you think of our services?” is too broad, while asking “were you pleased with our services?” doesn’t allow enough room to elaborate. Specific questions allow you to tailor your testimonials to get the information that will be most beneficial to your marketing efforts. Some examples:
- Why did you initially hire us over another painting contractor?
• What impressed you most about our services? The quality of our painting work? Our customer service? The speed with which we completed the work? Cleanliness on the job?
• If you were to recommend us to a friend or neighbor, what would you highlight about us?
Also, standardizing the format to a maximum of three or four brief questions will help establish enough credibility for your business while keeping the videos short enough to consume online. It’s also a good idea to create a master list of questions, from which you can pull out three or four specific to the information you want out of each testimonial. Knowing what to ask each time will make the entire process more efficient—and you’ll be better and more rehearsed with each new testimonial.
- Choose quality over quantity.
With testimonials, quality is far more important than quantity. Let reviews cover the quantity. Thanks to the persistent presence of online local service directories today, you’ll often get reviews without even asking for them—and have little to no control over them. That makes high-quality testimonials even more important because they do offer you an opportunity to mold the customer narrative around the attributes that differentiate your company from others.
And to be clear: high quality means honest, authentic and straightforward customer insights about what other customers can expect when interacting with your business. It does not mean high production value. Slickly produced videos certainly have their place in many marketing arenas, but customer testimonials for regional painting contractors isn’t one of them. Today’s service consumers are smart and increasingly untrusting of misplaced branded content because it feels overly salesy and untrustworthy. Conversely, raw content, like self-filmed smartphone videos, are perfectly suited for the format of customer testimonials because they reinforce your company’s authenticity.
- Share them where it makes sense.
In almost all cases, you’ll want to take your real-world testimonials into the digital world to maximize their reach. But on which platforms, or when to pay to boost a testimonial post on social media, might be a little less clear.
Your website is the obvious first stop; all video and written testimonials should be posted there. As for social media, your time and effort will garner the best value with Facebook and Instagram. Both are business-friendly platforms with built-in marketing and customer interaction tools should you get a particularly great testimonial for which you want to pay to extend its reach. And, both Facebook and Instagram are versatile enough to work for video content. If you’re targeting commercial customers, LinkedIn is an ideal platform to reach area businesses and business owners.
Email marketing, direct mail and door hangers are also ideal vehicles for written testimonials.
Growing sales by building trust
Relationships and reputation are everything in growing your painting business, and testimonials are often the seal of reputation approval many customers need to close a job. Testimonials build trust and credibility, they humanize your business and they increase the conversions.
And the more testimonials you collect, the more you’ll appeal to potential customers.
By Diane Walsh, VP of Market & Channel Development for Shurtape Technologies, LLC, makers of FrogTape® brand Painter’s Tape