Do testimonials influence readers?

I heard an interesting conversation today. Someone mentioned he found testimonials distasteful and did not pay any attention to those offered to promote products or services. Rather, this person felt that the company’s reputation, brand name and price were the only important factors. Do you think he is right?

We’ve all seen ads making magnanimous claims like the ones about losing 30 pounds in a ridiculously short stretch of time. Seriously, we know it can’t be for real. But here’s the real question. Do we throw the baby out with the bath water? In other words, are all testimonials fraudulent?

Actually, we’re bombarded by testimonials and are influenced by them all the time. Yes, we’re talking those promoting products or services that we might buy, and we think nothing of it. Have you ever gone to a new restaurant based on a recommendation of a friend of a friend. You know, “My friend, Sam, said it was really a great place to go and the meal was …” Well, you get the idea. What about the TV commercials featuring prominent athletes endorsing a certain athletic shoe or cereal? If Roy Halladay (Philadelphia Phillies) likes it, you want it too. Speaking of likes, what about Facebook? If Aunt Sally from Seattle likes Walmart, you might too, especially if she’s your favorite relative. And what about product ratings based on reviewers we’ve never met? Don’t we appreciate knowing the number of stars a product has garnered especially when shopping online?

Marketers understand that an endorsement from a reliable source may bring a buyer to the tipping point. It may be a way of answering those frequently asked questions without the pain of wading through a lengthy list. There’s no doubt about it, stories sell. Just look at the evening news along with their commercials. The issue likely has less to do with marketers using testimonials, and if we’re honest, more to do with our not wanting to take the time to do our due diligence and evaluate the facts on our own. Isn’t that why we continually buy our favorite brands? We’ve tried them and like them, so now we don’t have to think when we go to the store to restock.

We are influenced everyday by what others recommend. Testimonials do add value, so don’t be turned off. Instead read and evaluate the message. Then come to your own conclusion.

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