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Most business-owners have a love-hate relationship with testimonials. They love to receive them, but they hate to ask for them.

Yet, along with case studies, testimonials can be a powerful means for showcasing your expertise, the real-world results you help create, and the satisfaction of your clients.

Testimonials are one of the first items people review when they are trying to establish your credibility and to determine if they might like to work with you.

There are three key elements to a great testimonial:

1) The Challenge

2) The Resolution

3) The Outcome

Let’s delve into these three elements a bit more deeply.

The Challenge

The challenge element refers to the problem the client was facing and what obstacles they ran into in trying to solve that problem. Effective testimonials focus on one or two main problems and just one or two main results. It is crucial that the testimonial identify clearly what the main problem is, and why led the client to seek help for that problem.

An example of this: “My website was slow to load and clunky. I felt embarrassed whenever anyone asked for my URL. I needed my site redesigned and updated, but couldn’t find anyone to do this for me at a reasonable price.”

You will see that this identifies the problem: slow website, embarrassment. It identifies the most wanted outcome: site redesigned and updated. It identifies the obstacles: pricing was not reasonable.

The challenge is the first element of a great testimonial.

The Resolution

The resolution is where the client shares how your service or product changed their lives. This section benefits from numerical, quantifiable results. Wherever you can report results in terms of specifics, definitely do. Numbers make it easier for people to believe, and for them to gauge the results.

An example of this: “I met with XYZ Web designs and they understood my concerns completely. Within one week, I had a new beautiful and fast website at the price I wanted.”

You will see that this identifies the most wanted outcome, and how long it took, and it addresses the obstacle.

The resolution is the second element of a great testimonial.

The Conclusion

The conclusion is designed to persuade the reader to take action. It usually repeats the result, and offers some emotional information about how the resolution felt or what it was like to achieve this result.

An example of this: “If you have a slow and ugly website that embarrasses you, and you want a new, beautiful website at an affordable price, call XYZ Web Designs now. You will be glad you did.”

The conclusion summarizes the story and positive outcome. It is the third element of a great testimonial.

Ok, so, now you know what should be in a great testimonial.

How do you ask your clients to create these?

There are three ways I use:

Write it for them – this option has you create the testimonial and then your client reviews and agrees. This is usually the fastest way to get a testimonial, but may not fully capture the client’s voice.

Give them an outline or template – a good way to do this is to ask them to answer a series of questions, each of which will match up to the challenge, resolution, conclusion. Then you can gather the sentences together into a testimonial that sounds more like your client.

Ask them to write it themselves– I would never choose this option, as it generates more work for the client and reduces the likelihood that you’ll get your testimonial in a timely fashion.

Testimonials are important tools to persuade, establish credibility, and strengthen your brand. Make your testimonials stronger with these three key elements.