“Oh would some Power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us.”

(“O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!” – Robert Burns in To A Louse)

Asking for testimonials is invaluable for marketing, of course, but there’s another less obvious – and potentially more valuable –benefit:

You may be surprised to find that you are more valuable to your customers than you think.

The great thing about this Surprise Value is that you can easily build on it to make what you do more attractive to customers, and even at times develop successful new revenue opportunities.

For example, I noticed a pattern recently in testimonials from advisory clients.

The Surprise Value was this: I was giving them the support and encouragement to stick to their guns.

One leader said I helped her and her board, “hold the strategic line when everything around us was going nuts.”

A founder I worked with said I helped his business, “fulfil its potential without succumbing to pressure to compromise the vision”.

He said a big part of that was about holding the line on fees and went on to suggest that this kind of advice was ideal for people who don’t want their vision to “get lost, derailed, or diluted along the way.”

I hadn’t recognised that this aspect of my work was something that people were valuing, but since then I’ve started to emphasise it in my conversations with prospective advisory clients. After all, there are all kinds of pressures that can force leaders to compromise: on fees, on the type of work they accept, and on their strategic direction. It can severely dilute results. And compromising on things you care about is very stressful.

(Caveat: sticking to your guns come what may can be fatal, so you need advisory relationships which include open-minded and challenging sense-checking).

Andy’s advice:

  1. Use testimonials not only for promotional purposes, but also to identify value you are delivering without appreciating it.
  2. Make sure you have dependable sources of advice and encouragement for when you need to stick to your guns.