Ask for Testimonials and You Shall Receive

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What do people trust most these days? It's not government, media, for-profit organizations or even nonprofit organizations. It's online reviews. According to a study last year, a whopping 91% of people trust an online review, even if they don't know the person behind it.

Testimonials can come in all sizes and shapes and are powerful. "You're building a relationship; it's okay to ask for testimonials," Liz Slovenkay, membership director for Compliance Professionals Forum, once told us. "On our surveys we ask for testimonials, and people give them willingly."

As Slovenkay said, you should not be shy about asking for testimonials. Give incentives if need be. Try to get a range of testimonials so the audience will see themselves in there. And a little early skepticism in an answer never hurt. "I was a little bit unsure about attending this event, but..."

Here are some testimonial examples:

EB Medicine's Featured Subscriber. "It's actually an old campaign that we resurfaced," Stephanie Williford, CEO, EB Medicine, wrote me in an email. "A number of years ago, we asked subscribers for video testimonials and offered an extension on their subscription for everyone who submitted a video. We received quite a few, and most were really good. We'll probably do the campaign again next year to get new videos."

The one they have posted on their homepage now is with Christian Bridgwater, a board-certified emergency medicine physician practicing at Northeastern Indiana. "He's been a subscriber to Emergency Medicine Practice since 2006, and he loves that it's written by experts, is available when and where he needs it, and includes all of the annual CME credits required."

APTA shows younger subscribers/members. The American Physical Therapy Association spotlights their younger members in two-minute testimonial clips about student membership that has received almost 2,000 YouTube views. This represents longer-term thinking, sometimes tough in a produce-now world. But these are very professionally done and promote diversity without shouting it out

Esca Bona's About Us page. Leading off their About Us page for their Esca Bona conference, Informa uses written testimonials. "Esca Bona is a great place to get inspired, connect with industry leaders, and help grow the Good Food Movement. Its programming is world class and interspersed with a whole lot of fun!," says Jim Slama, CEO, FamilyFarmed.

Education Week's video tributes. Education Week probably does video as well as anyone with their Leaders to Learn From series, which includes stirring videos that help promote their big event. Each year, they identify some of the nation's most exceptional school district leaders and spotlight their extraordinary impact on the success of educators and students. While these are not straight testimonials, they do serve to promote their annual event in a way nothing else can.

Access Intelligence's conference video. On the current site for Access Intelligence's February 2019 3rd Annual Connected Plant Conference, there's a thrilling three-minute video showing highlights from the 2018 event. Testimonials resonate—"This is the first time I've attended and I definitely will be coming back," says one conference attendee. "Just the volume of people that are here and the connections we're able to make." An exhibitor regales over the quality of attendees he's encountering.

QMJ's event floor. On the site for QMJ Publishing Limited's Natural Stone Show 2017 you'll be met by an enticing video. The video shows clips from sessions, features attendees speaking about the conference, and highlights a diverse selection of people and exhibitors—with many countries represented. "The vibes from other exhibitors here are very good," said Jane Buxey. "I was speaking before with over 140 architects and the people I spoke to there were all very positive."

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…