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Fri, 22 Jan 2010 21:18:03 GMT

The real power of third-party endorsements

Ask your customers for testimonials and you'll find a new way to promote your company in your ads and to the media.


When looking for a product or service they've never used before, what do people most often do? Ask someone who has had experience with the product or service, of course.

This would include taking the advice of an unbiased product review. By "unbiased" we mean reviews that are not paid for, or supported in some way, by the company, product or service being reviewed, so the information is impartial - the reviewer has nothing to gain or lose by giving an honest opinion.

When taking the advice of others, you're getting what's called in the marketing industry a "third-party endorsement" (TPE) and it's one of the most powerful forces in the universe for anyone marketing a product.

It works because as humans, we typically are more inclined to believe what an uninvolved "third party"; a friend, neighbour, or unbiased reviewer; has to say than an advertisement or paid communication of any kind. This is not to say that ads don't have credibility, all we're saying is TPE's have more.

So how do you put this tremendous force to work for your company? First of all, we're assuming that your product is a good one so recommendations are a possibility - no one's going to recommend you if you're offering something of inferior quality or outright junk!

The starting point might be on your website - do you have a list of client testimonials? People want to know what others have said, so start asking your happy customers if they'll supply a testimonial you can use. Don't use anything without their permission and don't change what they've said to suit your purpose!

Make it a policy to always ask for these testimonials, not only will they be useful in your marketing, they will tell you what you're doing right, so you can do more of that.

You can also slip a testimonial into your advertising. Now you've got that TPE right in the ads!

In many publications, there are columnists that write reviews for entertainment, automobiles, and housing developments and increasingly for consumer items and services. Make sure these people are aware of what you offer. Send them a letter asking to be reviewed and then stand back. Be prepared to accept what they write, after all, you asked.

Now, since the media is such a good vehicle for TPE there must be other ways to use it than just placing ads. Quite right, because people tend to believe what they read in quality publications. So harness the power of "media relations" - become an expert that the media will love to quote when writing on your field of expertise. Target the reporters that cover your market and keep them up to date on what's happening in your industry. Don't try to sell them your product or service, just stay available to answer questions they may have; guess who they'll call and quote when they need answers.

Send out regular press releases on new developments and product improvements in your company. Make them factual and be sure they have an interesting story angle that will command attention. They should be newsworthy - not fluff or sell.

Maybe your firm has a great story on how it was founded, or how the business evolved to its present state. Write it up and send it to a publication that may be interested in including it as editorial - be sure it's a publication that's sure to be read by your ideal kind of customer. People love stories so keep it interesting and be truthful.

These are just a few of the ways you can get the word out, you can probably think of many more. But keep one thing uppermost in your mind - a bad reputation gets around much faster than a good one. Always take care to do the best you can do and when others are pleased with you, tell the world!

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