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I Couldn't Live Without It! A Great Testimonial.

By June Campbell

Man, oh man, I am so excited about all these amazing products and services for sale on the Web. I know they must be amazing and wonderful because of the glowing testimonials that people are offering. Everywhere I turn, people are urging me to purchase the miracle product that allowed them to make fantastic sales the very first month they used it. Why, I've seen people saying that thanks to the miracle product, they brought in an additional $16,000 per month or $20,000 or even more.

Wow. Do the math. At $16,000 a month, that's $192,000 a year EXTRA on top of what they were already making. Just for investing a relatively small amount of money in a marketing course or a piece of software or a service of some sort. At that rate, you could work one day a year (maybe less) and basically retire! What's even more amazing, these great people are willing to share their secrets with me so I can do the same.

There is only one problem. Almost all of these testimonials are fabricated. Thanks to the proliferation of associate and reseller programs on the Net, hundreds of thousands of resellers are trying to peddle someone else's wares -- using testimonials written by markers and provided for the associate's use. Resellers may or may not customize them for a little authenticity.

Want to know just how far it can go? I'm an associate reseller for a few products that I have used and found worthwhile. Recently, I received an exuberant email from one of the marketers urging me to participate in a "testimonial" contest. The associate who writes the best testimonial will receive a prize worth several hundred dollars. The email even suggested that I might let people know that thanks to their product, I am now bringing in an additional $16,000 a month or more….

I use testimonials on my web site. All of my testimonials are unsolicited, and all are published with the writer's consent. All contain a link so viewers can verify the accuracy. Of course, given that my testimonials are genuine, they lack the wild enthusiasm that you find in the other variety. I'm more likely to get a nice thank you note from someone who says they are using my products and find them worthwhile.

In a similar note, I have been astonished to find testimonials written by myself on a few web sites. Interestingly, I was quoted accurately, as far as it went, but the remarks were distorted and taken out of context. They were not what I would have said had I known I was providing a testimonial.

This proliferation of phony testimonials troubles me for two reasons.

First, I am concerned that members of the public, who are not stupid, after all, are becoming increasingly skeptical about testimonials. At one time, a good testimonial was one of the most effective sales strategies you could use. Is this still true? We may be in danger of losing one of the strongest tools in our sales arsenal.

My second concern about the use of fabricated testimonials is that of lost credibility. Speaking for myself, once I have reason to doubt the integrity of a sales message, I look elsewhere for a place to spend my cash. I'm not alone. Surveys reveal that Web shoppers rate a merchant's credibility as their number one concern. Knowing that, can we afford to practice anything other than complete integrity?

Just my opinion, but I think not.

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