“Content is king” said Bill Gates in a self-penned essay published on the Microsoft website all the way back in 1996.
And he wasn’t wrong. But where content wears the crown, credibility is the throne upon which it sits.
If you’ve worked in B2B for more than 30 minutes, no doubt you’ve been involved in sourcing, producing or distributing a client testimonial in some capacity.
Maybe you’ve been asked to prepare a written case study?
Or ask a customer to join you on stage at an event?
Or secure a testimonial for your website?
Asking clients for a positive recommendation is a necessity when trying to convince prospective clients to take the leap with your business. Buyers want to see that one of their contemporaries has the trod the path before them and not only emerged unscathed, but all the greater for the experience.
And as marketers, it’s our job to tell that story. But getting the right permissions can sometimes be troublesome.
Why? Because of the gatekeepers.
These are the folk who hold the direct relationship with the client. Account managers, salespeople, executives – people who should have a vested interest in your mission to tell the world about your amazing work but instead push back.
- “Now’s not the right time. We just asked them for a contract extension.”
- “Come back to me in a week when we’ve put out this project fire.”
- “I’m on holiday this month – let’s pick it back up when I return.”
☝️..are all some examples of the kind of excuses you may hear on why not to put in the ask with a client for a testimonial.
Fact of the matter is that unless you can separate the “commercial” conversation from the “marketing” conversation, you will always be at the mercy of the project. And that’s not a great place to be.
So, what can you do?
Always ask to be introduced to the client’s marketing team as soon as they’re onboarded, if not before. Quicker this connection can be made, the happier everyone’s lives will be.
Why? Because they have the same objectives as you – to promote and position their brand in the best possible light and capitalise on all opportunities.
They’ll understand that a hiccup at a project level doesn’t negate the quality of the relationship as a whole.
And they are also be better positioned to “sell-in” the idea of co-marketing to their colleagues than your own AM or sales rep will.
This isn’t a guarantee of success on its own. You have to be clear on what’s in it for them – how a co-marketing relationship can be mutually beneficial for both parties.
I like to lead with proposing activities that shine 90% of the light on our customer and where we can benefit from the halo effect of association.
This could be an award entry where you take on the brunt of preparing the application. Or sponsoring a keynote of your client at an event which you can moderate. Or giving them a first-look at some proprietary industry research in exchange for their participation… the list goes on.
When you offer value in exchange for value, the chances of securing that client testimonial go way up.
Looking to win some public credibility from clients you can market to the masses? Don’t ask your non-marketing colleagues to put in the request. Get an intro to the client’s marketing team ASAP and make it clear what’s in it for them from day one.