Donny Osmond wasn't exactly the music I listened to when I was growing up.
But there I was, at a backstage event, where Donny was answering a flurry of questions.
Why I was at the event is kinda inconsequential.
What Donny said was something that hit me like a ton of bricks.
Are you ready for the ton of bricks to head your way?
The interviewer was pulling no punches when he asked Donny, “So Donny,” the interviewer says,” how did your brothers take it, when you became the focus of attention; when you became the star; and they were relegated to the background?”
Donny hesitated. A serious look crossed his baby-face.
“I didn't know,” he said. “I didn't know how much my brothers resented me becoming the ‘star.' Even when I was seven years old, I was always the centre of the photos, simply because I was the youngest.
And it kind of balanced the photos, with my older brothers flanking me on both sides. But I hated being the centre, and being pushed those few steps ahead of them.
Then I actually became the ‘star,' years later, and I never realised the hurt, until my biographer did the interviews with my brothers.”
“I wasn't allowed at the interviews”
“The biographer kept me out of it,” Donny went on to say. “And when I read the chapters, I was taken aback. I just didn't know my brothers felt that way. I learned lots of good stuff, and also the niggly things I never knew existed.”
Donny isn't alone; you're in the dark too
You may well believe that your clients love you. And they do. But as human beings, we hate to do two things.
1) We hate to praise someone to the skies.
2) We hate to criticise them, and make them feel bad.
And the only time we hate to do these two actions, is when we're standing plonk in front of the person.
We have no problem pouring our hearts out to a third-party
If you've watched Oprah, you'll know exactly what I mean. This woman won't tell her husband what she thinks. She won’t say to his face, what she loves about her husband; or what bugs the heck out of her.
And then in front of ten million viewers, she prattles away with no end in sight.
Not unlike your client, I must add.
If you ask your client for a testimonial…
You get the brief, well-sanitised version of their version of the testimonial. But put a third-party in front of that very same client, asking the very same questions, and watch the responses go ballistic.
Suddenly you'll hear a torrent of stuff that's good (and not-so-good) about you.
The very same client.
The very same questions.
You know what changed. It was the third-party questioning, that’s what.
But this third-party testimonial does bring up another question.
The Good Stuff is Great: But Why Dredge the not-so-good stuff?
Good question, that you instinctively know the answer to as well. You do things that bug clients. The client is too polite to tell you about the bugs, but the bugs exist nevertheless.
By ferretting out the bugs through a third-party, you can fix the bugs, before they turn into nasty gremlins.
Of course, you're more than happy to hear about the good stuff, aren't you? And yeah, those are the perks you didn't even know existed. So you win both ways. You get to puff and prance like a peacock, when you hear the good things being said about you. And you also get the chance to go in and fix the glitches right away.
Which brings us to an action plan.
How do you get outstanding third-party testimonials?
Um…you've got to get a third party. Someone who can interview your clients. And that third-party needs to be armed with the right questions to create powerful, evocative answers.
Make sure the third party records the session. And takes permission to use the testimonial as an audio, or as text.
You can then post the audio on your website, or put it on a CD and have potential clients listen to it. You can take the text, and plaster it on every white space you can find in your ads, website, brochure. (Nope, just kidding! Not every white space!)
What makes this exercise really exciting, is that third-party testimonials are way, way better than anything I’ve ever experienced.
I used to think first-party testimonials were good enough
And they are certainly dramatic (if you ask the right questions). But they don't come within twenty miles of a third-party testimonial. Because when it's third-party, the truth and nothing but the truth, comes tumbling out.
The ugly, the bad, but mostly good stuff.
Ask Donny. He'll tell you 🙂
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Steven | Business Diaries says
That’s a genius idea. Thanks for the tip.
Jef Menguin says
Nice strategy. I never thought of third party testimonials. I’ve not done well even the first party.
But your articles inspire me to think of what still can be done. Thank you.
Tim Biden says
I had thought about asking questions but had never thought of having a third party do the questioning before. Wow! What a great idea to get the real truth.
Pamela Wilson says
The truth will set you free! I’d rather know the stuff people aren’t happy about so I can do something to improve their experience. Knowing that — as a bonus — I’ll also get plenty of positive feedback makes me braver about asking.
It’s a fantastic idea, Sean. I’m already thinking about how I can implement it, and who my “third party” will be. Thanks for sharing it.
Sean D'Souza says
Testimonials even 3rd party ones are good, but how can a potential client believe them if they do not know the person who gave the testimonial?
The testimonial could very easily have been made up.
Martina Roters says
Help me with this:
How in the world will the 3rd party get the Q&A session recorded and moreover, if they get permission that you can use it on your website, wouldn’t it be as if you yourself had asked the questions?