June 30, 2010

In Others' Words

Have you noticed the chorus of testimonials appearing in advertisments over the past few months?

Whilst there's always been great power in a third-party endorsement, it seems that customer trust in what brands have to say for themselves has dropped to such a degree that many business-owners now see other's words as the only way to build any credibility in the marketplace.

Here in Ireland, many of our banks, radio stations and insurers are making their own customers the stars of their advertising efforts, and despite my own misgivings about some of these businesses, I find this approach more convincing than most. After all, if a customer is ready to vouch for the seller, then there has to be some merit in what's on offer.

Despite this being an approach that makes sense, it's extraordinary how few businesses use it in developing their brands. Instead, they waste their time and ours telling us how long they've been in business and boasting about how wonderful they are. Frankly, I'm not interested. As a potential customer, I want to know whether what's on offer matches what I need and whether I'm likely to get exactly what I want once I put my money down. Hearing it in a customer's own words reassures me on both counts.

Perhaps brand-owners are too shy to ask a favour of their customers? They shouldn't be. In my experience, a satisfied customer is only too happy to speak up on behalf of a favourite supplier. You only have to ask.

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