Using Testimonials to Get New Clients

One of the biggest challenges for freelance professionals is figuring out how to bring in new clients.  Some freelancers are natural networkers, floating around with ease at trade shows or other professional gatherings, but others need to rely on other ways to bring in new business leads.  A powerful technique to consider to attract new clients is through the use of testimonials.

If you think about it, most of us will ask a friend or colleague to recommend a person to us when we are considering hiring a professional, whether it be an attorney, accountant, dentist, etc.  We seem to instinctively know that not all professionals are created equal.  Yes, each of them successfully finished their education and secured the necessary licensing from the state, but we want to know how these professionals operate in real life before we want to commit our time and money to them.

First, it is important to realize that a testimonial is different from a referral.  Most freelance professionals have heard repeatedly to “Ask for referrals!” when they successfully complete a task for a client.  Referrals can be very powerful, but they typically are limited in their effect because they are typically only made from one of your satisfied clients to usually one or a handful of new potential customers.  A testimonial, on the other hand, is something where the satisfied customer has given you permission to use their testimony over and over again to people who are strangers to the person giving the testimony.

Reputation of Person Giving Testimony

Obviously, a testimonial from a well-known party in your industry is especially strong.  Others will think that you must be well-qualified if you are able to attract clients like that!  So when planning a strategy for securing a testimonial, think about the client’s reputation as adding to yours.  On the other hand, if your client plays “fast-and-loose” with the rules in your industry, it would probably be better not to link your reputation with theirs.

Securing the Testimonial

Testimonials are great to secure when you have a client who has been impressed by your services.  A great time to approach them for the testimonial is right after you successfully completed a project for them.  They are in a good mood and should at least take some time to work with you.  Sometimes they are even flattered that you have asked them to give a testimonial!

I have found that it is good to put together a testimonial in advance, so that they will understand what it will look like.  I typically put it into a Word document with my business name and logo at that top, then include their face-shot taken from the internet, with their name, position and company name below their picture, and then I ghost-draft language as to a sample testimonial.  I then convert the proposed testimony to a pdf document, as that has the effect of making it more professional looking. 

Alternatively, once you have a testimonial from one of your clients, you can send that as a sample, and then invite them to draft their own language.  In either event, I have found that most clients want me to do the first draft of their testimony with the understanding that they have the freedom to edit it as they see fit.  Most clients are very busy professionals and they appreciate any help they can get in doing this favor for you.

Client’s Image

It may seem awkward, but including the client’s picture along with their testimony makes it many times more powerful.  There is something about including a person’s image along with their words that make the whole message come alive, adds credibility, and it almost acts like the person’s seal of approval.


Of course, it is advisable to secure in writing the client’s agreement to use their name and likeness before using the testimonial.  Some people are fine just to rely on the client’s written agreement in an email.  Other people will use a very short written agreement that is separately drafted and signed by the client.  If the agreement is too long, it is likely that the client will not want to go through the trouble of reviewing an in-depth agreement just to do a favor for you. 

Once you assemble a group of testimonials, then you can also use them in brochures, tri-folds, your website, etc.  Sequential testimonials from multiple satisfied clients create an aura of success surrounding your practice, and will help move your business to the next level.

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