The One Thing You Cannot do Without: Client Testimonialsby
One of the most underutilized, yet effective, marketing tools for CPA practices is the social proof from clients that you have worked with, a.k.a TESTIMONIALS.
If you look anywhere, you can see the persuasive power of testimonials.
Let’s say you order a book on Amazon, and you read the reviews to see what other people thought of it. If you are purchasing a software product online, you take a gander at the experience of those who have already purchased it and how it has worked for them.
Just yesterday, my office manager was creating a list of potential restaurants for my firm’s annual holiday dinner. She made a list and sent it to the office for general feedback. But what made her final decision were the reviews from the previous restaurant goers.
The reviews that helped her make a decision didn’t just touch on the quality of food. It was the review that testified to the caliber of customer service, the one that explained how the waiters went above and beyond to fulfill their requests. It was the review that made that restaurant different. (It also helped that the restaurant had almost double the number of reviews than many of the others.)
The more testimonials you have, when done right, the more they will be a strong ally in establishing the credibility of your CPA firm’s services and encourage a skeptic to take a chance with your firm. Yet, few CPA practitioners take the time to put a system in place to gather testimonials.
Here are four tips to get you started in the right direction to collect testimonials that are extremely effective.
Ask for Specifics
When asking your client for a testimonial it is okay to ask them to reference a specific meeting, conversation, or experience they had working with you.
Remind them of a positive result, or a strategy you implemented, that saved them money. Ask them how they felt during the process and their overall experience working with you toward that result.
For example, which testimonial is stronger?
“John Doe, CPA, is great! I just love him!”
“On short notice, John Doe, CPA, came through for us at the last minute and his staff provided us with impeccable service and support. He even looked at our tax return from prior years which led to an additional tax refund of $1,816.”
The second one, of course. It leaves a potential client thinking, “Wow, I want that experience, too!”
Spread the Word
If you have a good testimonial, then share it! Sprinkle it on all your marketing material.
No matter what marketing resource you are using (website, newsletter or Facebook), have a section for testimonials. For your website, I recommend having a separate tab for your testimonials to increase the impact and importance. Check out the testimonials tab on my website StraightTalkCPAs.com, where I have written and verbal testimonials.
As far as printed materials, or ads, go, I usually interweave the testimonials that coincide with whatever I am promoting.
Every month my firm sends out a Straight Talk Newsletter that provides my clients with articles that cover a range of topics: How to Be More Creative at Work; Working with Diverse Employees; How to Save More During the Winter, etc. In this month’s issue, I included an article on the importance of a comfortable office environment, the specifics of my CPA office, and how it differs from other firms. Throughout the article I intertwined two testimonials that related to the statements I made from clients who had visited the office.
Including the testimonials not only supports my credibility but also my integrity because it shows that I value what my clients say.
Don’t Fake Them
Nothing will ruin your credibility faster than the use of phony testimonials.
I know many CPAs find this uncomfortable, but it is perfectly okay to solicit testimonials. Just ask your clients for feedback, and then pick the best comments on your website or marketing material.
It is not okay to make testimonials up, but it is okay not to use the whole thing.
CPA practitioners operate at a very high level of ethics, so this probably does not apply to you: Under no circumstances should you personally write, or pay someone to write, your testimonials.
One thing you do have to get is written and signed consent from the client who gave the testimonial, so that you will be able to share it in your marketing materials.
Be Brave and Ask for It
When is the right time to ask for a testimonial? When you have delivered a specific service, or fulfilled a request.
Most clients don’t just hand out compliments. So, as soon as you are finished providing a specific service, ask the client to provide you feedback for your service.
You can do this by recording the client or giving them a client feedback sheet to write the testimonial — whatever they are comfortable with.
Just don’t forget that consent!
Testimonials are one of the best, low cost, and high-impact marketing tools. They break down the barriers and distrust those skeptical prospects toward your CPA practice.
Salim Omar is the author of The Million Dollar CPA Firm. He is also a successful business owner of Straight Talk CPAs, an accounting firm, and President of CPA Marketing Genius. He has a passion for helping CPAs engage in personal growth and professional development. While he is...