Testimonials are definitely worth having but beware of new online regulations…
Be careful here. Whereas you used to have free reign when using testimonials, things have now changed a little since December 1st 2009. Before we go into that, why use them in the first place?
References and testimonials are basically recommendations from past clients that are happy with your work. They normally explain that you were professional, likeable and produced work that either met or exceeded their expectations. Testimonials can be great for future clients to read as they put their mind at ease knowing that you are quite capable of doing the job.
However, I personally have never used them much
I realised early on that it is quite simple for anyone to make up fictitious couples or clients and basically write anything they like….glowing recommendations to order! I thought, if I know this, surely everyone else will so I just let my work do the convincing and it pushed me to improve dramatically. Don’t let that discourage you though as genuine, well written testimonials can go a long way and even include a photo of the couple to compliment it.
FTC – Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission, on the 1st December 2009, implemented new regulations with regards to the use of testimonials on the internet. For years, internet marketers have abused these in order to sell products, both reputable and dodgy.
Claims such as “I lost 3 stone in 4 days using this product!” are no longer acceptable as this may be an isolated case out of 100,000 users of that product meaning the weight loss could have been a coincidence and nothing to do with the product being sold. Even fair, honest testimonials from happy wedding couples have to be written and used correctly.
But don’t worry too much as for now (as at December 2009), this generally refers to products being sold to the US and the FTC are more after the “big boys” who are totally abusing the system rather than smaller businesses.
Personally, I think photographers testimonials are way down the list at the moment but it is worth double checking everything and getting it right from the start.
So, once you have established that everything you are doing is above board and you aren’t using OTT testimonials that claim “My life was enhanced and enriched and we lived happily ever after because Mr X took our wedding photos”, you should be ok.
After each job you do, no matter how big or small, ask the client for a testimonial to be sent via email and make sure they are happy for you to use it along with their names in your promotional material and as I mentioned earlier, maybe even include a photo of the client to enhance the credibility.
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