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The persuasive energy in a testimonial comes from believability - from candor, expertise and motive.

Testimonials come in several colors, from customers to celebrities. Here are some categories that have historically proven to be successful:

Real customers.
These are the testimonials you might find on Amazon or Facebook. They can be the most informative as well as the most persuasive. The best tend to be fair, honest and thoughtfully written.

A few flaws are fine because they add believability. Cheerleading chants - "It's the best, so don't mess with the rest - are shallow.

Interesting customers.
Select real users who also happen to have an interesting or amusing story. Perhaps one of your customers has an interesting job or an unusual accomplishment that sets them apart.

- Internationally recognized koi fish expert.

- Former mayor of the city.

- The 156th woman to climb mount Everest.

Real switchers.
In this approach an average citizen tries the product and offers a judgment on the spot. Here you convert non-customers to buyers. The "blind taste test" is one execution.

A second approach is to feature customers explaining why they switched from Brand X to Brand U.

The doctor, the scientist, the blogger who writes about your service or product category. Those are people who influence others because of their talent, knowledge and integrity.

Celebrities - whether local or international - bring instant recognition and interest. In fact, you can simply show the celebrity using your product, although a verbal or written endorsement is always a positive addition.

A testimonial, by the way, requires that the the celebrity has actually used the product. A "celebrity presenter" has no such requirement.

Creative tip: Implement a plan to regularly capture testimonials from customers. And encourage those same users to post their raves and reviews on specific social media sites.

One way to do so is to conduct customer interviews once each month. Prepare a written statement from those interviews for the customer to approve and post.

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