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Positioning with Testimonials

By: Justin Donaton

Justin Donaton heads the marketing communications efforts at telecom start-up TalkingNets. Prior to his role at TalkingNets, Justin's experience was built in Advertising and e-business.

As Director of Marketing Communications, I am the landing pad for "creative" concepts. I am regularly inundated with suggestions from executives, engineers, consultants and administrators, along with warped ideas of my own, in a quest to further fuel our commercialistic society with messages internally deemed worthy.

Amidst these rotating blades, there is fresh air...literally. To play off this shameless analogy, I ask you, in your quest to compile a comprehensive marketing message, to look no further than what is closest to you (unfortunately this is not your spouse and baby Joey). Between these blades lie the opportunity to leverage a powerful marketing communications message that you need not create or buy, but only nurture.

Testimonials provide a unique way to favorably position your product or service within the mindset of your prospects. They permit the recipient to subconsciously assume the identity of the quoted, thus potentially forming a bond based on a commonality.

Testimonials are a valuable asset in the marketing mix. Tiger Woods is paid tens of millions of dollars to smile and where Nike shoes. Unfortunately your marketing budget pales in comparison to Nike. But when digging deeper, what commonality does the typical recreational golfer really have with Tiger? Sure we are all envious of his ability, but only fool would truly believe that it's the shoes. If it really is those cleated spikes and comfy soles, wouldn't it make sense for Nike comp me a few pairs, then let me boast as to how it improved my game! Maybe then you would buy them.

My point here is that testimonials, when made by a partner or customer, can be a very tangible (and free) marketing technique. The quote in most cases should not be less than 5 words -ala Siskel and Ebert movie reviews - as perception reigns that it may have been taken out of context or altered. Testimonials should be specific to your product or service, relevant, attributed and always approved for use by the quoted.

A recent initiative I embarked on was to revamp our corporate web site. I incorporated specific quotes, on specific pages, to create an "I can use this to" mentality. As an example, I incorporated "TalkingNets demonstrates that data-focused carriers can offer customers software-based enhanced voice applications via the TalkingNets network." -TelecomClick. The fact that this statement was generated from a leading publication, ads instant validity to the mindset of a potential Channel Partner that our network is capable of servicing their customers.

Testimonials are nothing new, but unfortunately they are too often overlooked as a marketing technique. Assuming your sources are credible, testimonials provide more punch than your written work...and will save you a hell of a lot of time.

© Copyright 2001, Justin Donaton

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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