Testimonials: How to Get Them and Why They Work

There are four key components of Help-U-Sell Marketing.  The four components work together to deliver our consumer message, which is:

We’re Here, People Use Us, It Works, and They Save

Ha!  I bet you thought our consumer message was ‘Sell Fast, Save Thousands,’ but it’s not!  That’s a slogan, and a darn good one too.

The message is the association we want consumers to make subconsciously whenever they see our logo. Our marketing should teach them who we are (a real estate company), how we are different (we save them money), and that other people in the local market have successfully used our service.

The four components of the consumer message are:

  • Pictures and descriptions of homes For Sale – our listings
  • Sold and Saved’s
  • An Easy Way or Smarter Way bulleted list of how we work
  • And Testimonials

These components work together to make the point . . . powerfully.  Really:  if any one of these items is missing, the marketing is weakened . . . and we start looking like every other generic real estate company!

Testimonials are key.  They give the reassurance a potential customer needs that this somewhat strange real estate company that promises savings actually works.  They calm skepticism to the point that most consumers will pick up the phone and ask that magic question:  ‘What do you do?’

30 years ago we asked for pen and paper testimonials.  It was a cumbersome process but yielded a concrete item that could be fanned out on a desk during a listing consultation or proudly displayed in the reception area of the office.  A little later came email.  Both of these methods required the client to sit down and compose a note from scratch.  Today there are much easier ways to get a testimonial.

Both Trulia and Zillow have an online review area where a consumer can rate their agent and comment on their experience.  It’s very easy to orchestrate:  you simply log on to your agent account and send a link to the survey site to your customer.  And you absolutely SHOULD do this with every satisfied seller or buyer because visitors to those large property portals rely on these reviews when deciding which agent to call.

Increasingly consumers are turning to Yelp to make local buying decisions, and your reviews there can also be helpful.

You want good reviews on all of these sites, but you don’t want to make the process difficult for your clients by having them go to three of four different places to give you a testimonial.  I mean:  some will happily do it, but it is asking a lot.  Instead, spread your testimonials around.  Once you have five or six in one place, ask your next five or six customers to go to another place.  I don’t know that having more than half a dozen really good reviews on Zillow or Trulia makes a huge difference:  six should be sufficient.  Once you have decent coverage on the third party sites, you can start to collect testimonials yourself.

Survey Monkey (surveymonkey.com) offers a free platform for building a survey form for collecting testimonials and reviews.  You make up your own questions and the Monkey can accommodate multiple-choice, ratings, text and other forms of input.  I’d suggest keeping your survey simple.  In fact, mimicking the review form that is on Zillow is probably fine.  Once you’ve setup your survey, you can send a link to it to all of your customers and start collecting their testimonials.

And then what do you do with them?  Put them in every piece of marketing you do.  Rotate them through your website, your blog and your Facebook page.  Read through them when you are having a rough week.  Call the testimonial source and thank them for their kind words and for the privilege of working with them.

If you’d like to see excellent use of Testimonials, check this out. 

Remember what Don Taylor taught us:  the most powerful form of advertising is word-of-mouth.  You want your business to be so refreshingly different and so consumer friendly that everyone you work with goes on to spread good rumors about you.  The testimonial is a powerful twist on word-of-mouth advertising.  Get them.  Use them.

PS:  Robbie is building a testimonial gathering mechanism in OMS that should be functioning in the next several months.


Congratulations! Your House Didn’t Sell!

That’s the first line of an Expired Listing card John’s been playing with.  The second line, or the back of the card, would say something like:  ‘Now you can really sell your house and save a lot of money! ‘  Let us Help-U-Sell-A-Brate!  Ok; I added that last bit.  But I can see this whole campaign taking shape.  You know, it’s like:  ‘Wheewwww!  Thank goodness  your house didn’t sell!  Now you can save some serious cash!’

It gets down to one of the great truths of Help-U-Sell:  if sellers see our program, they almost always list with us.  An Expired lisitng — or a FSBO — or a property listed with another broker — is probably a seller who didn’t know we existed, didn’t know what we do, or didn’t realize we were in the local market.  In all three cases, it’s a marketing challenge.

Think of it this way:  There are no traditional sellers;  it’s just that some sellers haven’t met Help-U-Sell . . . yet.

Remember the three messages at the heart of all Help-U-Sell marketing:  That Help-U-Sell is HERE and represents savings, people use us, and it works.

We say we’re here with blitz signs and car wraps, with seller held open houses (featuring many, many signs in the local area).  We also say we’re here with a strong web presence and office websites that can easily be customized, optimized and localized so that homeowners in the area can find us.  We say we’re here by putting our logo on everything.

We say people use us by featuring pictures and descriptions of homes for sale on almost all of our advertising.  We also establish that message every time we send out a Just Listed, Just Sold or Open House card.

And we say IT WORKS! by making sure 1/3 of the homes in our advertising include a ‘Sold and Saved’ banner across the edge.  We also lean heavily on satisfied client testimonials for this message.

Back in the Pleistocene Era when I was a Traditional Real Estate Broker, I would never have included testimonials or ‘Sold and Saved’ listings in my advertising.  No way I’d be giving up that expensive marketing space to something I couldn’t sell!  I wouldn’t have wrapped my vehicle either because, well, it’s gaudy.  And Blitz Signs?  Forget it!  I wouldn’t want to tick off all my friends at the Board!

Of course, most of what was around in the Pleistocene Era (including many Traditional Real Estate Brokers) is extinct.  So much for playing by the rules your competitors set for you!

If you haven’t figured it out, this is a pep talk.  My message is to get out there and tell people who you are.  Do it all day, every day.  Do it with paid marketing and low cost/no cost marketing.  Do it with conversation and personal notes and door knocking and just being friendly.  Do it by wearing your name badge and responding when people ask, ‘What do you do?’

NAR was nearly ecstatic today announcing that sales of existing homes were up 7.5% in April.  Things are slowing turning.  It’s time to stand up and be proud!  Don’t stay locked in the real estate closet!  You’ve got a story to tell!  And people surely DO want to hear from you.


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