There is a method for both collecting these stories as well as highlighting the message you really want to convey. Too often we only see before and after photos with a bunch of numbers that can easily turn potential prospects away. Your testimonials have the potential to become much more powerful than just a “before and after.” When you create “stories” you will be able to highlight your client's journey which will help others realize that they can in fact also achieve success.
A few tips for collecting amazing “journeys”:
1. Focus on the client, not the trainer
The purpose of the testimonial should always be to use their accomplishments to help inspire others to do the same. When you make this purpose known to the client, you get much better feedback as well. Ask the client to highlight their journey, not your business.
Think about it, which example is more powerful:
Example A: “Using this fitness system I was able to lose 10 pounds in 10 days, and it was easier than I thought.” (Generic response from someone you asked to write a testimonial to highlight their story and help your credibility. The client is trying to sound good and get you business.)
Example B: “I have gained so much more confidence in these past few months using this system. It is a challenge, but is totally worth it!” (Response from someone you asked to share their story and advice for others.)
2. Create a template
If you asked all of your clients today to share their stories, most would agree but few would actually do it without a template. Make it simple and convenient for your clients to share their words. Put together a template of questions for your clients to answer. You can do this by recording, sending it out via Facebook, email, etc. This makes it easy as well as authentic.
- When did you start your fitness journey?
- What motivated you to start?
- What were some of your goals when you started?
- What are your goals now?
- What have been your greatest achievements?
- What were/are your biggest struggles?
- What advice would you give to new clients/members?
- What is your favorite thing about your workouts?
3. Chose pictures that fit your brand
Who said all testimonials have to be before and after style? Depending on your business and brand they can vary tremendously. It's okay to have pictures of clients picking up heavy things, or out with trainers, on a run, in fitness clothes, in formal clothes, etc. etc. Just get something that is real, that your target market will relate well to.
Often times, it is even better to only use an “after” photo with an intriguing tagline:
- “You won't believe what this client has overcome to get here...”
- “If you are struggling with weight, check out what John did below!”
- “Think your too old to get stronger? Just look at what Jill did...”
4. Have an incentive for sharing their stories
Make your clients feel good about what they've accomplished, and get them excited to share their story. Incentives do not have to cost a lot of money. The best incentives for clients are things like handwritten thank you cards, certificates of achievements, etc. If you really want to get clients motivated, keep a “Client Spotlight,” or “Client of the Month” board going. People will work hard just to have the opportunity to “be on the wall,” and share their story.
5. Keep your stories diverse
Try to catch clients in different “phases” of their journey. You want stories from people who just started and have accomplished going up stairs easier. To people who have finally began to see their hard work payoff. To people who have accomplished far more than they knew they could. It's encouraging to see a variety of people, and a variety of successes.
What makes client testimonials incredibly powerful is not what they've accomplished, but what they've overcome. Sharing this message is what will instill a strong belief in others as well.Always be sure to encourage your clients to share their story, but never be overly pushy. Make sure each client understands what the story will be used for, and get their written consent before publishing anywhere.