It always seemed like a good marketing tool to have a running stream of kudos-from-clients. Brides and grooms who gush with praise about your company and its service ring authentic with prospective customers.
Recently, the ability to capture live testimonials with a Flip Cam or Smart Phone has brought added reality and spontaneity.
There is a growing trend that is beginning to devalue praise from clients. The ease of leaving reviews on wedding websites, such as WeddingWire and The Knot has started to make positive reviews so commonplace as to render them far less useful.
First, the upside: In a conversation with Sonny Ganguly, (WeddingWire) a couple of weeks ago, he mentioned that there is 106% increase on click-through for businesses that have 10 or more reviews on WeddingWire.
Here is the BUT: As businesses accumulate more reviews, the increase in click-through does not increase proportionately. For example, having 50 reviews isn’t demonstrably better than having 17 reviews.
The Big Issue
It has become so easy to post positive reviews on wedding websites that many businesses in individual categories show a rating of four and half or five stars.
If your business is one of 25 in its category and two-thirds of the listings have very high ratings, the prospective customer begins to see high-ratings as a commodity.
Are the majority of companies, in your category, doing 5-star work?
Probably not. It’s likely that you know the quality of your competition. From the reviews, though, the bride who is shopping service has a tough time telling the difference.
The Review Challenge
In my opinion, with this trend of high-ratings-as-commodities, I suggest a different approach. Seek out both written and video testimonials from your professional peers.
Ultimately, a bride and groom can only project their satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the companies they hire. As a customer, they cannot make comparisons. Wedding professionals, however, see their peers in action, week in and week out. The see the good, the bad, and the ugly.
They know which cakes taste and look good; which centerpieces not only look and smell good, but don’t block the view of a guest sitting across the table; which disc jockeys not only fill the dance floor, but make concise announcements, keeping the photographer, videographer, and banquet manager, in the loop. The list goes on…
The issue is not just that a peer likes you, but WHAT IS IT THAT YOU DO THAT IS SUPERIOR?
The Reciprocal Link Example
Giving praise to peers is tricky. It’s OK to give a pat-on-the-back to more than baker, photographer or other professional, citing their particular strengths. However, just like asking for a reciprocal website link, you can never ask for a link, if you wouldn’t give one (because you think that company is below par).
Ultimately, if you give earned-praise, and ask for praise you deserve… from fellow wedding professionals, it will standout against the commodity-reviews of brides, the 1-time customer.
Understand, that when you her hesitancy, in response to your request, it may mean that there is some element of your service that is sub-standard in some way. Finding out what the issue is, will be a solid source of constructive criticism. Hearing the truth about what improvements you can make will only make your company better, and strengthen your peer relationships.
Is this a radical idea?
Not really. Just a fresh suggestion. The challenge of selling is in differentiating your company from others. Peer testimonials is one way to help carry out that differentiation.
Get out in front and be the first company in your category to accumulate peer testimonials. Then watch your competitors trying to play catch-up.
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog