by David Tandet

When you go to court, get sworn in and speak, they call it testifying.

That’s for a reason: you’re not supposed to play fast and loose with the facts. And you know what? I suspect dishonest testimony happens less than we imagine.

We think people are up there lying every which way, but that’s because we’ve been conditioned by all those courtroom dramas we’ve seen on TV forever. Well they have to have fibbers in fiction because if they didn’t . . . well there’d be no drama! Of course big cases where people break the law by lying on the stand are often in the news because there’s a question about the truth of what someone’s been saying.

No matter. Because there’s a situation in our day to day world when you can be 99.9% certain folks never waiver from the straight and narrow. It’s when people are giving testimonials about products and services related to their area of expertise.

Now that might seem like a surprising statement, but I challenge you to find a case where someone’s testimonial related to his or her field of mastery is not that individual’s true belief. And what’s really key for our purposes: great testimonials — when it comes to what people really know or care about — boost sales.

That’s why an endorsement by a baseball player about breakfast cereal might not do much good. But a testimonial by a star pitcher about a summer baseball camp is pure gold. No one put it better than advertising genius David Ogilvy 25 years ago: “Testimonials increase credibility — and sales. If one testimonial tests well, try two. But don’t use testimonials by celebrities, unless they are recognized authorities, like Arnold Palmer [think Tiger Woods] on golf clubs.”

Think about it: if I’m building a website and I want to put my best foot forward, am I going to use the testimonial of someone that I believe has gotten less than top-notch service from me? And will that individual — especially if a business customer — risk his or her reputation among a part of the community where respectability is key?

And in all of those cases — whether it’s a trusted home builder or a top flight dentist — we’re talking about experts. Not necessarily celebrities, of course. But experts.

Testimonials by experts are rock solid. That’s why testimonials rock.

Post filed under Foundations of Marketing, Marketing Communications, Reliability, Reputation, Sales Gold.