how to ask for client testimonials

How to Leverage Testimonials When Marketing Your T&I Business

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Testimonials are powerful. There's no denying that. But I keep hearing from translators and interpreters that they feel uncomfortable asking their clients for testimonials. "Do you really think they will give me one? Am I overthinking this?" My response to these questions: "Yes and yes."

We all purchase services or products and then receive messages to leave a review. How is that different from asking a client for a testimonial? Why do we feel uncomfortable asking our clients to give us a few words of praise? I can only surmise that part of this discomfort stems from the nature of the work we do. We like to stay behind the scenes for the most part. But when it comes to growing our T&I businesses, we have to step up to the plate and make the "ask." 

Your potential clients, just like you, want to make sure they are purchasing a sound product or service. Who wouldn't? That's just one of the many reasons why providing client testimonials is an effective way to market your T&I business. But you have to be smart about how you request and use testimonials so that one client's words can impact the decision making of another.

Here are my top tips for leveraging testimonials for your T&I business.

● Use client testimonials and avoid simply requesting them from colleagues.

Show how you helped a client solve a problem they had. This is how other potential clients will be able to connect with such a testimonial. They want to know what you are capable of doing for them! If you simply share testimonials your colleagues write for you, then you're not really showing those who pay for your services anything other than what your peers think. And while peer support is important in other aspects of your business, the last thing you want is for a potential customer to think you've padded your testimonials with kind words from well-meaning friends.

● Share a variety of testimonials (shoot for three to five!).

Your client testimonials should be varied, i.e. they shouldn't all say the same thing. And they should definitely go into more detail than simply "She always delivers on time!" Well, gosh, I hope so. While this may be a positive aspect of working with you, it's not going to set you apart from others in your language pair or specialization. Make sure that your testimonials have some substance to them and that they cover a range of positive experiences a client can expect if they choose to hire you.

● Dedicate a very clear space for client testimonials on your website.

You can choose to share one on every page or dedicate an entire page of your website to client testimonials. If you choose the latter, be sure to create a clear heading in your navigation menu. Don't make it hard for clients to find testimonials about your work!

● Translate them into your target language only if your clients are contacting you in that language to begin with.

I get asked this question fairly often. And my answer is always the same. It doesn't make sense to translate anything on your website unless your ideal clients are contacting you in that language from the start. Put your testimonials in the language your ideal clients speak and use when they enter search terms online.

● Ask for them!

This may be the one that so many people avoid. The "ask." The worst a client might
tell you is that you haven't worked with them long enough for them to give you a solid testimonial, or they don't have time at the moment. In both of these scenarios, all you have to do is wait, work a little more for them on assignments and ask again. Is that really so bad? I didn't think so. ;)

Write to your top five clients today, and ask them to write a testimonial for you. If they don't have time, offer to write one for them to approve. A lot of clients actually prefer this, and some may even ask you to do this in response to your request!

● Make sure your testimonials are brief and to the point.

Whatever you do, don't fill up your testimonials page with long-winded praise. Try to stick to around three sentences per testimonial. Anything longer than this means you run the risk of someone bypassing the testimonial completely.

● Be clear with clients about what you plan to do with their testimonials.

Make sure that your clients understand where you will be using their name and testimonial. Try to use these on your website and any online profiles you use for business that allow for this type of content, like LinkedIn.

For more tips on how to use LinkedIn for your T&I business, check out Seven Ways to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile and Gain More Leads.

● Offer to give testimonials to others as a way to pay it forward.

I'm not saying to offer a testimonial exchange to your clients! Although, that could be interesting. ;) Instead, make some time once a month to do others the favor of writing a testimonial for them. Other professionals appreciate the praise, too. Consider writing testimonials for your accountant, your bookkeeper, instructors or trainers you've learned from in the past, other translators or editors you actually hire/pay for work, etc. Just remember to be careful these don't come off as friends doing each other the favor of padding each other's testimonials page on a website!

Make it a point to ask for a testimonial once a month. That's an easy business goal to set, no? And don't feel badly about asking for testimonials. It's a very common practice, and most people are more than happy to do it! Just make sure you also let them know by when you need the testimonial, as a lot of people don't see this type of thing as a priority and they may forget, or your request may get lost in their inbox.

Use testimonials wherever you can, even if it is in the body of an email response. If a potential client reaches out to you, and something they mention reminds you of a testimonial you received, it's not awkward to share something like, "Oh, you have this issue, too? Here's what another client said about the service I provided to them when they were in the same situation." Slip a solid testimonial in where you can, and make sure it feels natural to do so. It's not in poor taste to do some self promotion like this. After all, you have a business to run!

If you found this post useful, you may also like How to Use Referrals to Grow Your Client List.

How to Use Referrals to Grow Your Client List

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If you're a translator or an interpreter, you know just how important it can be to get a client (or friend) referral that leads you to a great client. It helps you to build what is hopefully a sustainable and booming business. Once you define your ideal client, you'll want to get the word out to others about the fact that you're looking to grow your business or client list. But you will want to do this strategically without coming off as salesy, right?

Here are three ways you can leverage referrals to grow your client list starting today.

1. Give your clients an unforgettable experience.

Before even considering how to get more referrals for your business, it is key to treat your current clients well, first and foremost. As most of us work from home and have clients all over the map, we don't often get to see or meet with our clients. So, finding ways to give them the ultimate experience when they work with you is important in getting them to offer your name up as a referral to those in their own networks.

Think about this. When you refer your friends or family to a particular restaurant, shop or professional provider, you want them to be just as pleased as you were, right? You wouldn't refer them to someone who you thought would give them poor service or sell them a glitchy product. That's exactly how your customers feel, too. So, whenever you have the chance, make a point to wow your clients. Do something unexpected for them like throwing in a bonus translation of something that would serve them well. I'm not saying you should give away your work, but by adding an extra touch like this, you stand out a bit more than other folks who provide the same service as you. If this isn't your style, you could write a handwritten thank-you note and include a gift card to a coffee shop near their office. Remember, it's the little things that clients remember when it comes to why they love to work with you. So, give them a reason to keep coming back and keep referring others to you.

For more tips on how to effectively network with clients when you work from home, check out this post.

2. Never underestimate who you might meet or speak to at any given moment.

It's been said that you should always carry yourself as though you are representing your business or brand. This is even truer nowadays, as more and more people are in touch with each other through technology, too.

Your next referral could come from a current client or a friend, the person bagging your groceries at the supermarket, a bank teller or even a gym pal. So, staying "on brand" and "on message" is key to landing more referrals. How does technology play into this? While you shouldn't underestimate who you might speak to or meet in person, you must also be sure to carry yourself well online. I have had many friends, who I've not seen in over 10 years, refer business to me simply because they saw my social media post about something language-related, or they remembered I have a small translation agency because of a recent tweet they saw in their Twitter feed. Stranger things have happened!

3. Don't be afraid to request a testimonial. They work.

Testimonials can be one of the strongest marketing methods you can use. Don't let anyone tell you that no one reads testimonials anymore. Just look at the number of review on an Amazon product page, and this should convince you otherwise. And what's more? They're totally free. Reach out to past clients and ask them to give you a brief testimonial. As they write it, they will be reminded of just how much they liked working with you, which is never a bad thing.

Once you have a few testimonials under your belt, post them everywhere, post them frequently, but don't be spammy (of course!). Use them on your social media channels, in email campaigns to clients and on your website. If you're on particularly great terms with the person who gave you the testimonial, request that they share it on your LinkedIn profile or another professional site you use as well.

Take a look at your current client list. No matter how long it is, I am willing to bet that more than half of your clients came from referrals. And while this may not necessarily be the case for you, never give up on trying to get more referrals. They are invaluable and worth multiplying if you take a little bit of time to build stronger client relationships and get the word out more often about the work you do and what its like to work with you.

For more reading on this topic, check out Jesse Tomlinson's guest post, "Who's Watching?" on Judy and Dagmar Jenner's blog Translation Times.