Blog: March 2017
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The Power of Testimonials

I recently attended a conference, and during one of the sessions I sat in on, the speaker talked about the importance of testimonials.  It was interesting to learn the significance of testimonials, and what a positive impact they can have on an organization’s reputation. Surprisingly, not many organizations, including associations, take advantage of such easy, and free, publicity! 

Member testimonials send a message of trust, because they’re straightforward endorsements of your products and services, made by the people who actually purchase and use them. Your association’s members will always be more convincing than you, as they have not only the first-hand experience, but the respect of their colleagues and peers. So, it is a wise idea to display and promote testimonials that you have collected from your members, whenever you can. 

Collecting Testimonials 

Collecting positive feedback doesn’t have to take a lot of time out of your day. Even taking five or ten minutes every now and then to have a conversation with a willing member will do. Asking a member “Do you have 5 or 10 minutes to chat with me? You’re a very active member, and I’d like to ask you for your feedback about the organization. It’s important for our staff and the Board to understand how we’re doing...” can go a long way.

Here are some examples of questions you can ask during your conversation: 

Does belonging to this association make your job easier? 
How has being a member changed the way your company does business?
What are some of your favorite things about being a member? 
Why would you recommend us to someone else? This is the key part of the testimonial!
If someone called you and said “Why should I join the association”, what would you tell them?
What are the first 3 feelings that come to your mind when you think about belonging to our association?” This is a great question, which is totally open-ended and lets the member take it where they wish.

Listen to your member’s answers, and simply be present during the conversation. Don’t be afraid to ask follow up questions: Why? How does that help you? What is better for you because we do that? 

Get Permission 

Before sharing the feedback you’ve received, the important thing is that you allow your members to describe what they like best about being a member, you capture their thoughts, and then you secure their permission to share their thoughts. Thank your member for offering their insights and feedback, and tell them how incredibly helpful and valuable it is to your association. Then, ask them if it’s okay with to use some of their comments in your marketing materials.  

Sharing Testimonials 

When sharing testimonials, be sure to use names, titles, and company names. One to three sentences is a good length for a focused testimonial, but longer is fine too. Don’t forget to share the testimonials you have received internally as well as externally. Sharing testimonials internally can have a significant impact on employee and volunteer morale, and it’s important for staff to hear how pleased a member is with your association’s work.

Where to Place Your Testimonials 

There are several places where testimonials can be exhibited:  

  • Place them widely on your website. 
  • Add them to your email signature. 
  • Consider showing live tweets from real people praising your association’s event(s). Record them, and have them playing on the phone, while a caller is on hold. The caller (could be a potential member) can be listening to recorded testimonials from your members. 
  • Every communication that leaves your office is made stronger by a testimonial. Put them in directories, newsletters, invoices, everywhere!

Using Testimonials to Acquire New Members

Testimonials and word of mouth are the driving force behind many purchasing decisions, and yet only some associations are actively seeking and sharing member testimonials on an ongoing basis. By engaging in the process of collecting and sharing testimonials, you can better entice prospective members and convince them that they should belong to your association.  

Karen Murphy is Administrative Manager at McKenna Management, Inc., an association management company based in Westford, Massachusetts. She enjoys assisting clients with the budgeting process and financial performance analysis.