Testimonials - Why They're So Important

Have you ever gone to a website to purchase a product, but you couldn't find one? Or even worse... You saw a BAD review, and it turned you off to the site or business so badly that you decided to not purchase at all? Most of us have. Social proof is a small aspect of your marketing strategy that can have a MASSIVE impact. A bad or negative experience by a customer or client is over 100x more likely to be remembered than all of the good experiences they've had put together.

A customer or client is 10x more likely to leave a negative review after a bad experience than they are after 10 good experiences. It's simply human nature. We remember the bad because we expect the good. You can go to a restaurant for 5 years, have 50 or more really fantastic experiences and never leave a single star review. However, if you go to that restaurant and have one single bad experience, you'll more than likely not return at all.

The point of this entire post is simple. Watch what kind of testimonials you get, who you're tagging or claiming in these testimonials, and how the testimonials are displayed on your social media or website.

Recently, I had a pretty bad mishap occur over a testimonial that was of mistaken identity. I hired a web-designer to revamp the Mid-South Marketing Solutions website, and I strictly instructed him to use testimonial pictures but no names, whatsoever. A few weeks later, he called to say he was done, and since he had come so highly recommended, I went ahead and paid him for his work without checking out the site. (I know! Dumb, right? Lesson learned.)

Well, a few days later, I still had not had a chance to fully go over the site because my son had been sick for those few days and had been hospitalized. I, being the doting father that I am, stayed with him the entire time he was in the hospital, and I made no effort to do a single bit of work while I was there. I figured that I would get to it when I got home after his discharge from the hospital.

Here's what happened: A few days later, I received an email from a doctor asking me why, when he and I had never worked together, was his name listed under a testimonial on my website. I absolutely flipped! I immediately went to the website, and sure enough, there it was. The name of a doctor from Wilmington, NC that I had never even met, much less worked with.

When I contacted my website developer, I asked him why the name was there, and he said that he forgot to remove it as a "placeholder" name while he was building the site out. Needless to say, I didn't get that doctor as a client because of a simple mistake made by a developer and the fact that I was "too busy" to verify his work.

If you take nothing else from my story, take this: No matter what, ALWAYS verify the work of any person you're looking to hire. Whether it be for employment, contracting, strategy, or consulting, you should ask for testimonials and verification of their work. Having a decent amount of testimonials and reviews that backup what you say is absolutely critical in establishing a relationship with your potential client/patient/customer before they ever even come to you for business.

What's the moral of the story: Cover. Your. Ass. Never blindly trust someone to do exactly what you're asking them to do without having proof that they've done it before.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             -Justin                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Don't Stop - You're Almost There

It's the year 2008. The housing market hasn't crashed. Yet. Obama is getting ready for his second term in Office. Gas prices are around $3.00 a gallon, and I'm sitting in Fort Benning, GA, wondering why I made this horrible decision.

You see, I was 20 years old at the time, and I had decided I wanted to DO something with my life. See exotic places. Do something crazy. Joining the Military was my "rebellious act" that took me from my small-town existence and threw me face-first into the world of men.

Back to the story.... So I'm sitting here in the sweltering heat of a South Georgia Summer, and I'm literally sweating more liquid than it's humanly possible to take in. Sweating from places that sweat shouldn't come from. And I'm from Alabama. I thought this would be a piece of cake. Summers in good ol' Bama are hot, humid, and horrid.  You walk outside, and before you can even get to your car, you're pouring sweat. God forbid you get in before the A/C is turned on.

Anyway, let's just say I wasn't ready. In high school, I was what you would classify as a "geek." I was not only a teacher's kid... I was the child of TWO teachers. Double the expectations. Double the letdown. I played soccer from 9th to 11th grade, and if you know anything about the South, you'll know that wasn't the "cool" sport. Football was the cool sport. I was in decent enough shape, I thought.

Boy, was I wrong.

When I joined the Army, I let my recruiter talk me into joining the Infantry. Even with an ASVAB score of 94, the idea of jumping out of planes, fighting the bad guy face to face, and carrying big guns that shot big bullets was highly alluring to a 20-year-old kid. So that's what I did. I joined the United States Army Infantry, I signed an Airborne School contract, and I was shipped right off to Fort Benning, GA, where I learned the difference between being a man and being a boy.

At this point in my life, joining the military to be all I could be was, in my mind, the worst decision I ever made. I was constantly yelled at, forced to drink more water than a fish, run harder than a marathon runner, and trained constantly for the inevitable deployment to the Middle East. I had had my head shaved, and since I wore contacts in the regular world, I had to wear what was known as BCGs in the Army. That stands for two things.... Ballistic Combat Glasses.... or what we called them, Birth Control Glasses. Cause there's no way any woman in her right mind would speak to you when you're wearing those.

So, I'm sitting here with a 60 pound rucksack, a 30 pound machine gun, 120 pounds of ammunition, and my squad leader yelling at me to move faster. You could say I was regretting my decision.

But now, when I look back at that time on Sand Hill, I wish I could go back. That was the first time in my entire life that I truly found out what I was made of. It wa the first time in my life that I had found true brotherhood. I had realized what real camaraderie was. These men stood beside me when I screwed up. They had my back when I made a mistake.

They pushed me harder than I ever would have pushed myself. They forced me to accept my role as a man. To give up on those boyish ideals. To step into my boots every morning with the idea that... I really am worth something.

Would I be like the ones that gave up? Quit on their dreams? Stopped pushing forward when the finish line was closer than they even knew?

Would I quit on these men? Leave them to fend for themselves when they had fought for me so hard?

No, not this guy. I pushed myself even harder. I made myself get up, get to it, and get the job done.

I came out of Basic Training having lost 40 pounds of fat and gained 18 pounds of muscle. I went from running a 19 minute 2-mile to running a 14-minute 2-mile. I went from being able to do MAYBE 10 push-ups to being able to knock out 100 without breaking a hard sweat. And most importantly, I learned the most important lesson of my entire life....

When you want something bad enough, don't give up. The finish line is closer than you think.