Monday, February 06, 2012

Eliciting Enviable Endorsements

The endorsement is one of the best marketing strategies available. It's free. It's heartfelt. It's persuasive. It's believable. It lends itself to a multitude of uses. And all too often, it's overlooked or underused.

An Endorsement by Any Other Name

Endorsements... Testimonials... Praise... Rave reviews... All mean the same thing: someone other than a family member or an employee said something nice about you or your work.

A strong endorsement can do amazing things:

* It can introduce complete strangers to your work and make them feel like they know you.
* It can say things that you can't. (If you say you're great, you appear egotistical. If someone else says you're great, that just means you're competent and noteworthy.)
* It can be the "little voice" that encourages someone to open up your book instead of putting it back on the shelf.

Testimonials appeal to our mob mentality. A few raves on the back of a book mean that more than one person liked it enough to put his name on it. We read them and think, "Look at all those recommendations. I'll give it a shot." We're always looking for a good read. And the human psyche hates to stand alone -- prefering instead to jump on a good bandwagon.

Another reason for endorsements' effectiveness is the fact that they're voluntary. They aren't paid advertisements, so they often seem more credible than a straightforward ad for a product or service.

Just Say "Please"

So how does one go about getting an endorsement for a book, product, or service?

It's easy: Ask.

[CAVEAT: Before asking, first make sure that the thing you want endorsed is good. You are asking people to put their name, their seal of approval, and their reputation on the line for you. Many, if not most, people are happy to do so -- provided that the thing they're endorsing is worthy of their praise.]

Once you have something that you are proud of, however, don't hesitate to ask for testimonials. Your reviewers don't have to be famous or even experts.

Want proof? Look at the reviews on Amazon, IMDb, or Goodreads. Good, bad, or indifferent, the comments from the "Average Joes" carry at least as much weight as the official editorial reviews. (Unfortunately, this isn't always a good thing. More on that tomorrow...)

3 Steps to Getting Great Endorsements

1.) Talk to people you know, people whose opinions you value, and people who are leaders in your field. Ask them if they would be willing to review your work and provide a testimonial if they like it.

2.) Send complimentary copies to those who agree to offer an opinion. Include a thank-you note with your e-mail address and a reminder -- something like,
Thank you so much for your interest in this project. Please accept this copy with my compliments. If you like it, would you take a moment to jot down a short testimonial at your earliest opportunity? I would love to hear your thoughts on the work.
3.) If someone does not respond, a follow-up reminder a month or so later is appropriate. After that, if you still receive no response, stop. Don't nag. Instead, move on and ask for others' opinions.

Some people advocate writing up a sample endorsement and offering it as a suggestion. The rationale for doing so, they say, is that people are pressed for time and will often just sign off on a pre-written testimonial.

The best endorsements are free.
This may be true, but I'm not very good at bragging. In my experience, any testimonial I might think of writing about myself or my work pales in comparison to what someone else says.

Collecting Kudos

When someone gives you an endorsement, immediately send a warm and sincere Thank You. Be willing to return the favor at some point -- and say so.

Collect as many endorsements as possible. You don't have to use them all. But it will never hurt to have them.

As the testimonials for your work begin to accrue, start using them in your promotions. Tune in tomorrow for suggestions of making the most of your reviews.

Do you have other suggestions for getting great endorsements? Share them below!

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