As we seek new business to expand, extend, and sustain our aging in place services businesses, we must have people that we can serve. This is a given. We can’t be in business and generate any revenue without people to serve who are willing to hire and engage us – and pay for our services. We might choose to do some work pro bono (free) occasionally, and we might charge less (possibly much less) than our competition, but we still are in business to make money but serving people who want what we have to offer.
That said, we need people we can serve, and there are three primary ways to do this: (1) advertise, market ourselves, have a storefront where people can see us and stop in, or otherwise let people know that we are available to assist them, (2) word-of-mouth from a satisfied client or someone who has heard of us somehow and the share our story with others who are looking for something that we provide, and (3) direct referrals from professionals who already have some type of relationship with the potential client and simply share them with us to provide something that they don’t.
There is a common thread across all three of these methods and that is us and our credibility. The general rule is that we must first sell ourselves before anything else we are attempting to convey about our company, product, services, or solutions will be meaningful or believable to our potential clients and customers. Without an initial trust in what we can do, they are going to keep looking past us, and we are going to find it difficult to build our businesses or even to remain viable.
After all, people are buying us when they decide to engage us. It’s a relationship sell. They will need to like what we offer and what they think we can provide for them, but that won’t matter unless they first like us and what we represent. Few other businesses have a professional stranger come into their home – their intimate environment – for a period of a few days to dismantle something they have now and replace it with something that meets their needs better. They are hopeful that the solution recommended is going to be what they want and worth the investment, but first, they are trusting us, and the others who come with us as part of the package, to be inside their home.
One of the ways that we help to gain this trust is by preselling the experience through testimonials – printed or recorded statements from satisfied clients or actual word-of-mouth unsolicited statements that people share among themselves. Nothing is more powerful for potential clients than hearing or reading how someone else of a similar need chose and worked with us – and the satisfaction they obtained in the process.
We might have a website or a trifold brochure, or even a print or electronic media ad – that tells people how great we are and how they would be making a mistake to work with anyone else or to pass on the opportunity altogether, but it could certainly come across as self-serving and expected. What’s a better way? Get someone else to play our song – our clients and customers.
This is the essence of testimonials. They are comments and experiences shared with the public by former or present clients and customers (requested or volunteered) that tell the world how we did a good job. It’s their stamp of approval, their recommendation to people who might be considering using us for a similar solution.
Testimonials are easy to get because people like to help – especially if they like us and our request seems reasonable. We just want them to note their satisfaction with what we did in a brief, succinct note. It doesn’t need to be elaborate. Sometimes people think they need time to compose just the right message for us, and they end up never providing anything. It doesn’t need to be anything formal. It can be a handwritten note or one they prepare on their computer and deliver or mail to us. It can be an email. It can be a text message. They can even dictate something to us that we can prepare for them. For those who are comfortable doing a video, filming a brief thirty-sixty second capture of their thoughts on our cellphone is fine. The main thing is to let them tell our story for us and connect with other consumers who can relate to what they are sharing and expressing.
Referrals are an even better source of clients once we have established the groundwork and made the professional contacts for this to happen. Credibility as well as our ability are huge here. We’ll explore this in a subsequent post.