The business owner often wonders, “What is the actual return on my advertising dollars?” I would contend that if you expect your average advertising to bring in customers, with the exception of when you are paying the highest deposit rate or charging the lowest loan rate, you will be disappointed at your return on investment, unless you find a more effective way to market your services.
One of my favorite business pioneers is James Patterson, the founder of NCR. Patterson was a genius. He invented a cash register at a time when no one else had or used one. So, not only did he have to convince the business owner to purchase this new piece of equipment, he had to create a consumer market that would demand it as well. How did he do that? He spent advertising dollars on convincing the public the need to “get a receipt” with their purchase. And what was one thing the cash register did? It produced a receipt. Now all of a sudden, retail shops were banging on Patterson’s door to get a cash register, because their customers wanted a receipt.
He knew how to create excitement about his product. In the 1904 World’s Fair, when most of the other exhibitors had booths with lots of items people could not touch, NCR had a booth that invited people to come in and touch and play with whatever they wanted. It was the forerunner to the modern Apple Store. If you have ever been in one of those, you can play with any sort of Apple product that you want while you are in the store. It does not matter your age or computer abilities (although the young may have more computer ability than the old!), anyone can use a Mac, IPhone or IPod there.
Patterson had a quote about advertising, “Advertising brings awareness, but testimonials bring customers.” The more I think about that, the truer it seems to me. Jeffrey Gitomer, writer of some of the finest sales books that I have ever read, said, “Testimonials are the most powerful form of advertising.” I have personally experienced that in my career, the most powerful drivers of business have come from customers and third parties that have recommended a business owner to come to me because of what I have done for them.
The testimonial that comes as a referral is the most powerful business generation possible. In my finance career, I have been a part of numerous service clubs and eaten more Chamber of Commerce rubber chicken dinners than you can shake a stick at. Yet these did not bring me significant business. It did get me recognition.
What got me the most business was a club I joined that dealt with property exchanges and networking among Realtors. All I did was do a good job for whoever brought me a deal, showed up at meetings, and added as much value to the organization as I possibly could. Before I knew it, people were bringing deals to me. People who I did business with were sending their business friends to me, and my customers wanted to do more and more business with me, because they believed their business was better when I was involved in financing it.
So, if you actually can be lucky enough to get a testimonial, what do you need it to say? First, it needs to be in the words of the business owner and not a script that you hand him to perform in front of a camera. It must be authentic and genuine. The second thing it needs to do is to spurn the listener into action. When you think about this, you do this all the time. Last year, a buddy of mine bought one of these ceramic smokers for BBQ-ing and smoking meat. I had heard about them but never was interested because of the price. After I heard his testimony of how this worked, the quality of the meat that came out of the smoker, how little fuel it used, etc., I was finally sold on the product. There was no amount of ads, commercials, or reviews I could read that mattered to me. It was not until my friend told me about his experience with the product that I began to look at it. Sampling the finished product also was convincing.
Now guess what? Because of my lovely wife hearing about my thoughts on the product from my friend, I now have a ceramic smoker on my patio. I would have never done this, if it were not for the testimony of a friend.
On the business side, what needs to be in testimonials about your financial institution? You want your customers to tell how they have been able to start a successful business, increase their profits, move to a new location, or achieve their financial business dreams because of your services. The testimonial needs to be in such a way that takes away the risk in doing business with you in the mind of the hearer and establishes the expectation for a happy ending. All you have to do is deliver on it, and get another testimonial for your arsenal of advertising.