Posted by: Donna Cunningham | September 28, 2009

Testimonials that Work: Promote Yourself with Integrity, Credibility—and Class!

©2008 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

 “You are totally awesome!! You have to be the best astrologer in this city. Everything you said was so on target, I couldn’t believe it! It felt like you’d been reading my journals for the past ten years. I’m telling all my friends to come and see you!!”   Patsy from Peoria

 “Our Tarot reading gave me such relief from my worries. I have so much to live for now that you’ve reassured me I’ll get a great job by the end of the year and will meet my soul mate in two years. I’ve decided to quit worrying about my debts and to charge a great new wardrobe and makeover on my credit cards so that when Right Job Inc. and Mr. Right come along, I’ll bowl them over.”    Samantha from Savanna

I made Patsy and Samantha up. Still, their raves sound about as authentic as the ones on too many New Age websites—gushing reviews that leave you to suspect that everything else on the site is made up, too. Web users typically have mixed reactions to testimonials, especially when the site promotes a helping profession or spiritual service. Many are full of so much elaborate praise about the person’s services that they come off as hype. 

Hype on a professional services website is obnoxious and suspect. For all the reader knows, the person’s mother or significant other could have written it, and in the deceitful world that is the World Wide Web, that probably happens more often than we’d care to imagine. Since we’re all invisible on the net, anyone can claim anything they like. Praise without substance convinces no one. Quotes from people you’ve helped can add a great deal to your marketing efforts, but they need to show credibility, integrity—and class.

 “How Do I get Quotes for my Page?”

spodeteacup-web You collect testimonials the same way you’d collect $12-a-pound morel mushrooms on a stroll through the timber or that single, priceless Spode teacup among a stack of chipped Starbucks mugs on a card table at a garage sale. They’re already there, and in order to spot them, you just have to starting thinking Spode or Morel.

One Spode teacup doesn’t make a collection nor does a single Morel make a memorable entrée, but when you’ve found enough of them, you’ve got something worthwhile. Likewise, if you’re good at what you do, you’re already getting glowing reviews from those you serve. All you have to do is collect a bunch of them and polish them up for your page.

Some of the feedback from my web design clients came in the form of thank you notes that arrived along with their checks. When I asked, the clients were only too happy for me to use their words in promoting my services. Likewise, in the follow-up session a month after a writing seminar ended, my students were so excited about what they’d learned in six weeks that I asked if they’d send me a short note about it. I often get emails from peopgoodjob-a2dle who’ve made a breakthrough during a telephone phone consultation or readers who’ve gained insights from an article or book I’ve written.

Satisfied clients who come back for a series of healing sessions or several yearly chart updates provide an especially good view of your track record, as their presence among the examples show that your methods work. They also demonstrate your ability to form a relationship with your clients and to answer their needs, since they thought enough of you enough to come back.

 Here are some other possible sources. When clients rave, especially in writing, ask if you can quote them. Make it easy for them by sending back the part you want to use. You might ask them to add something they found especially helpful and memorable about the work you did together. If you teach a class or seminar, create a questionnaire for students to complete at the end, then look for quotes that give details. This serves a dual purpose, in that they can also tell you what’s needed to improve the course material. If the journal for your organization or the local press printed a good writeup about you, get permission to reprint it.

Always ask for written permission before using any tribute—an email would suffice—and be sure to thank the people who wrote them. Show them a link to the page where you quote them and ask if they’re comfortable with what it says. Save the quotes in a folder, along with contact information and permissions, and eventually you’llgoodjob2-a2d collect enough examples for a powerful and appealing showcase of the work you do.

As with any good design project, aim for quality not quantity.  Weave a few pithy, pertinent paeans of praise into descriptions of your services. That’s far more impressive—and more credible—than a separate page of blowsy, bloated, blurry blurbs with no context or details to back up the claims. A good testimonial placed next to a description of the methods you use is also educational for website visitors. It helps them understand the growth process that a user of your kind of service typically experiences.

Note: You can download a more detailed version of this article, including more tips on working with testimonials and how to interweave them effectively with relevant web content here: S3-DC-Testimonials for a Spiritually Based Website–Times NR.

Tips from the Pros on How to Create Credible Testimonial Pages

Here are links to some good articles written by copywriting and marketing professionals.  Though not specifically aimed at service fields, they are full of useful hints. If you like the authors’ approach, browse other articles on their sites and even sign up for their newsletters.


FREE EBOOKLET FOR SKYWRITER SUBSCRIBERS ONLY:  a 50-page excerpt from my out-of-print book, The Moon in your Life, also known as Being a Lunar Type in a Solar World.  Read more about it here: NEW: FREE BOOKLET FOR SKYWRITER SUBSCRIBERS!   If you’re already a subscriber and want a copy, forward the most recent email post to me at To sign up for a subscription, go to the top right hand corner of the blog and click on “Subscribe.”  Then send me an email with your subscription confirmation or an email post.

Art credits:  Like most of the art on this site, these images come from


  1. Very useful article. It is a subject I have been wavering constantly since I started my practice and got no definitive answer. To get testimonials or not? Personally, I do not believe in publishing them since there is no way to verify them and most often than not they are ‘too nice’. On the other side, I make a point to give feedback to the professional about what worked, what did not worked and what I want to see more of it when appropriate. If I really liked the service I then spread the word. I also tend to call the professional and talk to them in order to ask questions, get a feeling for them before deciding. It’s more work but less chance to be disappointed.

    • Hmm. Hard to say if you are absolutely correct or if there’s still a bit of shyness about self-promotion. It depends. Lots of testimonials are clearly hype and have a bit of a slimy feel. Download the full text of the article at the link on the post, as it goes into that more deeply and demonstrates how and where to spot convincing detail in testimonials that show your usefulness rather than just vague rave reviews. Donna

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