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For Chicago marketing and PR success, give names--and details-on rave reviews

Whether you're a widget salesmen or a world-class motivational speaker, testimonials are central to your persuasive story-telling endeavors.

Alas, some otherwise-credible individuals and organizations haven't taken the time to gather such testimonials (or "success stories" or "endorsements"--whatever term fits into your vocabulary).

Only slightly better are those instances when an organization handles the testimonials as an extension of the Federal Witness Protection Program.

If you're plotting a clandestine drug deal or attending a 12-Step Testimonial Providers Anonymous (TPA) meeting, referring to somebody only by their initials or as "Matt B.", if you are feeling a bit bolder, may make some sense.

Otherwise, in business, these cloak-and-dagger, veiled references come across as sketchy and needlessly secretive. And settling for TPA-style sources means barely skimming the surface of the potential good these third-party edifications could do for the person or organization you are seeking to promote.

When you edify, or build up, another individual as credible and authoritative on a given subject, you are helping till the soil of an audience's mind. He or she is more inclined to be open to the perspective of the individual who has been edified.

It's a principle of interpersonal communication that World Wide Group, an Amway Approved Provider, has long emphasized to create a receptive environment for leaders such as Terry Felber and Howie Danzik. In turn, those leaders model the same behavior, edifying Independent Business Owners as well as fellow leaders.

The result is a positivity loop that may seem foreign in the midst of a hyper-critical, snarky world. That it may come across as off-beat should only underscore the rarity of the approach--and thus, the ample opportunity to distinguish your company or cause by putting it into practice.

What follows, then, is the Chicago Marketing & PR checklist for collecting a testimonial:

1. Receive a signed media release form in which the individual agrees to have his/her story shared through various modes of communication at no compensation.

This first step should be no problem if people are genuinely fired up about the great service they have received. In my experience working on scores of testimonials across a variety of industries, collecting willing and eager testimonials has never posed a problem.

2. Do everything in your power to obtain or create testimonials in a variety of forms:

-A video of the individual sharing his or her story about the good that you and/or your product or service provided.

-At least one photograph of the testimonial provider.

-Additional photographs that would help tell the story (such as before-and-after images of someone who has lost weight or photos of a house that has received significant upgrades).

-A written narrative that tells the individual's story in a compelling, newsworthy manner. Don't settle for a meager two-line quote--go for a rich, nuanced story that conveys a powerful story. Out of that story, you can excerpt a quote or two on an as-needed basis.

3. Armed with these key elements, re-purpose the content across many platforms and toward a variety of audiences that are in your target market.

Testimonials are re-purposing gold. Take the time up front to do them well, and they will reap dividends time and again.

For examples of testimonials, you can check out some videos, like this one by Tricia Miller of Serenity Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine, on the Inside Edge PR video channel.

And about six years ago, when Inside Edge PR took testimonials well beyond the Witness Protection Program level, it spurred on positive coverage in The Daily Southtown for Chicago Women's Health, an obstretrics/gynecology practice.

You can see that particular written testimonial, along with a few others, here on the Chicago Women's Health website.


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