Many virtual service providers (VSPs) offer their services for short term projects in exchange for experience and testimonials. This isn’t a new thing in the business world though it may not be widely discussed.
One aspect of this business arrangement is to understand that it is ‘business’ and to treat it as such. Far too often it is entered into in a too-casual manner which doesn’t properly undergird the value of what’s happening.
I’m not going to get into the dynamics of bartering from an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) perspective except to note bartering is taxable income and each person should contact the IRS for themselves if they are bartering services. Having said that, if the IRS finds the exchange of bartered services to be important it’s critical that we start viewing it from a value-add perspective beyond “I did this thing and they gave me a testimonial”.
Testimonials and reviews are so valuable people are willing to pay for them and a lot of industries are cracking down on paid reviews and testimonials-rightfully so. This paints a picture for us that we can’t offer services with a testimonial being one of the benefits and take it lightly or undermine the value of the testimony.
I read reviews and testimonials, do you?
I don’t buy anything on Amazon without reading the 1, 3 and 5 star reviews.
Likewise, many using VSP services will read the testimonials in addition to any portfolio and website material before making a decision to contract a VSP.
I’ve heard that a testimonial that isn’t from a mainstream player doesn’t have value but I’m not buying that. Why? Shortly after I purchased Thrive Ovation I received an email asking me for a testimonial using guess what? Yes, Thrive Ovation. Does Thrive have their email marketing set up to weed out everyone who they don’t consider a big name (also called the Halo Effect)? They could choose to segment and only ask certain people but they don’t. Will they use every testimonial they receive? Probably not. Case studies and quote testimonials from real world users go a long way.
First let’s define what a testimony is.
A testimony is: a public tribute to someone and to their achievements.
Testimonials can be solicited or unsolicited, both have value.
Testimonials can be formal or informal.
Testimonials can come from fellow VSPs, clients or other business colleagues.
As a virtual service provider your product is solutions. That’s what we offer; problem solving. Sometimes in the course of solving problems for your clients they say something that makes the perfect testimonial.
You don’t solicit it but it’s great context for a testimonial.
Instead of asking this client for a testimonial, I asked if I may use their comment and image as a quote-testimonial and done! It’s authentic. It’s her experience summarized because she was feeling it and just wanted to let me know.
The client left this comment for me in our Trello board where we were working on her branding.
Before using a comment ask permission. Also let the client know where you’ll use the testimony such as on your website or social media (social proof) platforms. Be sure it is clearly stated that they are granting perpetual permission for you to use the quote testimonial. Keep documentation of the permission granted.
In the quote testimonial above, the client specifically mentions the problem I solved for her in addition to some other benefits she gained. This makes her comment a good witness to the services I provide. It would be great if we always received comments we could use but we don’t. Sometimes we’ll need to ask for the testimonial.
For the times when we ask for a testimonial I believe a mix of long and short is good. I’ve been asked if I prefer to provide questions or have the person free flow; there is no right or wrong, just what works for you.
No one wants to read a complete novel but sometimes a generic or too short testimony doesn’t answer any questions for the person considering contracting you. Free flow or question format can be varied as well, you may discover your client base has a preference.
Questions help in some cases because:
1 there are time that no matter how great you were people just don’t know what to say
2. writing a story may be too time consuming for some people
3. they get short and sweet testimonials that hit the key points
There are many questions you can ask, these three will give you a starting point:
1. What made you seek out service with our/my company?
2.What problem were you seeking to solve? How did the problem impact your life or business?
3. How did our/my service solve this problem? How did it improve your [life/business]?
How do you receive client testimonials? Do you use quote-testimonials? There are many ways to receive testimonials such as good ole email, Google Docs, Typeform, Jotform, Plugins, Thrive Ovation and more. I use Thrive Ovation. No affiliate link, I just like the product.