A formula for testimonial quotes


Testimonials can be convincing elements in advertising campaigns. Will Rogers once said, “Get someone else to blow your horn and the sound will carry twice as far.” It’s true that happy customers’ statements can be more credible than many of the things advertisers say about themselves.

Not all testimonials are created equal. I’m sure you’ve seen ads with testimonial quotes like this: “Golf City is a great resource for golfers. Their inventory is outstanding. They do repairs on all types of clubs. And they offer a wide selection of package deals on local courses. I recommend them highly.”

This quote represents a nice try, but it’s like a flat stone skimming across the water. It touches down several times, but there’s no depth. A better strategy would be to produce three different testimonials – one for each point in the quote – and add a little more depth to each one. For example:

Quote 1: “Golf City has an outstanding inventory of golf clubs and equipment. I’ve always found exactly what I’m looking for, whether it’s a new set of irons or a pair of golf shoes.”

Quote 2: “Golf City does a great job with repairs. They recently regripped my clubs, and it’s like having a brand new set.”

Quote 3: “Golf City offers excellent golf packages on local courses. With their combination deals, I have been able to play some of the best courses in the area for much less than the regular cost.”

How do you get tightly focused quotes like this? It’s all in the questions you ask. Instead of asking “What’s your opinion of this company?” and hoping the subject will say something usable, it’s better to go into the interview with a strategy. In the case of Golf City, you know you want separate quotes on inventory, repairs and package deals. So you create a progression of questions which are designed to narrow the quote to something which will support the ad’s message. It works like this:

Question 1: “Thank you for taking a few minutes to talk to me about Golf City. What do you think of them?”

Question 2: (After a positive response to that open-ended question, ask about something specific. It helps to have advance information from your advertiser.) “I understand that you just upgraded to a new set of clubs. What was your experience with that?”

Question 3: “What would you say to people who are thinking about going to Golf City for new clubs?”

Three single-focus testimonials are better than one that covers all three areas at once. So talk to three different people about three different features of Golf City – and you’ll have material for a series of ads. Include a photo and a name with each quote, and the campaign will have the ring of authenticity. You can run one quote per ad and even feature all three in a larger ad.

Then “rinse and repeat” with three more customer interviews. That’s using the power of testimonials.


(c) Copyright 2017 by John Foust. All rights reserved.


John Foust has conducted training programs for thousands of newspaper advertising professionals. Many ad departments are using his training videos to save time and get quick results from in-house training. E-mail for information: john@johnfoust.com