announcementTestimonials from customers or supply-chain partners can serve as powerful differentiators.  Building your brand on testimonials means you stand out from your competitors in customer loyalty and customer delight. Doing business with you makes people happy, or solves a big problem, or gives them new opportunities–or all of the above and more.  And whatever product or service you provide, you do it in a consistently excellent way.

There’s a nuanced difference between branding by what your customers say and branding based on “customer service.” Although it’s often your service that people rave about, their willingness to rave about you may have to do with the value you provide in products and services, not only how you help them during and after the sale.

The value of testimonials is proven daily by the popularity of Yelp and Angie’s List and other social media services that feature customer reviews. Although this is primarily a BtoC phenomenon, it works in B2B as well, just not quite as visibly. Companies that do well with these sites are very active in the discussion, responding quickly to negative reviews and offering fixes. The more they participate, the more that customers are likely to brag about them.

To brand based on testimonials, first learn from your customers what they most value about your company and use that knowledge to develop your brand promise. You may think you know why they continue to buy from you, but asking is better–then you are sure, and often you will get fortuitous surprises!

Next  consider what features of your customers’ praise you most want to associate with your brand. A longstanding client said of The Whale Hunters, “Everything they touch turns to gold.” Each time he came to us for help, he made more money. Not only have I used that quotation, but it also helps to remind me that what clients want from us is the ability to make more money. There’s power in knowing that and power in branding around that.

Also consider how you want to present testimonial statements. Sidebar quotations on your website, comments on blog posts, audio or video recordings? All of the above? The answer depends upon how your prospective customers are most likely to find and pay attention to what your current customers are saying.

And finally, understand that you need to encourage customers to talk about you and encourage them to focus on those things that you most want to associate with your brand. If you are a B2B company, solicit testimonials whenever you have completed an assignment; many people appreciate your writing what you think they most appreciated and then editing it for you. In that way you can steer a particular point or phrase. On the other hand, it’s extremely valuable to  see and to use what the customer comes up with.

If you work hard to have raving fans, be sure that you are building your brand around the experiences that they rave about.

How are you using testimonials to differentiate from your competitors?