Gathering and utilizing authentic customer testimonials is a great way to a) get closer to your customers and b) offer proof that your dance school delivers results. People can be very motivated by the comments of their peers.

Gathering and utilizing authentic customer testimonials is a great way to a) get closer to your customers and b) offer proof that your dance school delivers results. People can be very motivated by the comments of their peers.

I often find that while most business owners understand the power of testimonials, they don’t always know the best way to acquire them. Here are suggestions that will work for you on a number of levels.

Create an event around gathering testimonials. Invite your best parents for a networking social happy hour. Promote the event as a chance to network, swap stories and star in the creation of new marketing materials for your company. Give it a Hollywood theme.

Hire a videographer and photographer and then throughout the course of the evening, let your customers’ cycle through the video seat to tell the story of their child’s success with your studio. Most people enjoy being on camera once they do it and the whole group will be entertained by the event and feed off of each other’s energy.

Yes, this is a bit of a self-serving event on the surface, so I do believe you need to be very selective about invitees and keep it very light and fun—participation in the testimonial part is completely voluntary. But I think you will find that your customers think this is great, too.

Another way to motivate your customers to participate is to offer to allow them to create a quick video overview of their company while at the event that they can use in their own marketing efforts.

Once you capture the video, audio and still photos from the event, you’ve got a testimonial and success story library that could infuse your marketing materials—like a DVD brochure, broadcast and print ads—for years. And you’ve created a customer loyalty and community building event that just may become next year’s hottest party to crash!

Build your own testimonial writing machine. Almost every small business marketer knows that they should gather testimonials to use in their marketing materials.

The problem though is that getting your customers, the ones who know your greatness, to sit down with a blank sheet of paper and crank out a glowing testimonial can be a bit of a chore, for them ad you. It isn’t that they don’t want to do it; it’s just that there are other priorities calling to them as well. Here is a different idea for acquiring your testimonials: Occasionally, when you are presenting your studio’s credentials to prospective clients, include a page that simply lists four or five references for contact rather than your traditional glowing testimonial page. Urge your prospects to contact each for more information about your school. You may even include a list of suggested questions they might ask the references; this helps them focus on the benefits of sending their child to your dance school.

You’ll find that when your current client is contacted for information (often by email these days), he or she will immediately feel compelled to put in writing what amounts to a well-written testimonial. (When a client writes a testimonial in the traditional way they often write it as though they are speaking to you. Many times this doesn’t have the same marketing sizzle to it.)

Now here is where the fun part comes in: I have found that quite often your existing clients will copy you on the communication they sent to the prospect. Bingo—instant testimonial, written exactly as you need it for your marketing materials.

Actually, using this strategy can be even stronger than just printing written testimonials as it involves your current clients in the active process of marketing and has the tendency to resell them on their decision to keep their child at your studio as well.

The only caution is that you regularly change the names on the sheet of references you hand out so that no one group of clients becomes burdened by the process.

Whichever way you choose to acquire testimonials, I highly recommend that you get them from your clients and build a library that can help you build credibility, loyalty and your bottom line!

*Now we would like to ask you for a testimonial about Dance Teacher Web! We value your time so here are some questions that may help expedite the process.

1. How does DTW help you and your business?

2. What do you like most about DTW?

3. What would you like to see more of?

4. How would you describe DTW to other studio owners?

We appreciate you taking the time to help us promote DTW and look forward to hearing from you! Please send responses to: danceteacherweb@aol.com