I want to address a conflict we kiwi business owners seem to be battling with. As a country we’re an entrepreneurial bunch, with SMEs making up 97% of all NZ businesses. Those of us with companies of our own are go-getting, hard-working and innovative folk, proud to offer a good product or service that customers love. 

But most of the time, we also fall into the trap of being overly humble and self-depreciating and, as a result, we’re not great at letting people know about the good job we are doing, or the great products we have on offer, for fear of appearing boastful.

You can blame this on what is widely known (and sadly accepted) around NZ as ‘tall poppy syndrome’ but, if you want my opinion, it’s time to get over ourselves. This bashful behaviour is bad for your bottom line and your potential customers are begging for you to convince them of your worth. And before you tell me you just can’t bring yourself to sing your own praises, I’ve got some great news –  you can sell your brand without uttering a single gloating word of your own.

Here’s how…

Word of mouth deserves more than lip service.

Here at Grow NZ, we’ve spent a great deal of time over the past few months supporting kiwi business with their marketing strategies as they look to survive 2020 and thrive in the years beyond. And there’s a glaring commonality – too many SMEs are ignoring the power of social proof to build trust with potential customers.

While marketing may have evolved considerably since the days of bartering, the way we build trust hasn’t, and word of mouth is still arguably the most powerful form of advertising you can get. No matter how beautiful your website or store front, customers don’t want to hand over their hard-earned cash to simply test out whether your product or service is worth the investment,  they want to give you their money because they already believe it’s worth it.

But how do you do this in a way that incites trust?

Get someone else to say it!

Customer testimonials offer the social proof today’s modern consumer requires before committing to a purchase –  and they can come in many forms; online reviews, case studies, star ratings or quotes from written feedback are the most common. Persuasive testimonials from happy customers are a key string in your marketing bow and are just as effective in this digital day and age as an over-the-fence recommendation from your neighbour. What’s more, statistics show consumers are hungry to hear what others think of your work. According to Nielsen research, 92% of people will trust a recommendation from a peer, and 70% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know. 

So, what should a testimonial look like?

Much like your customer base, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to testimonials. According to Grow NZ partner, Wordstream, there are several tried and tested ways to get real life consumer feedback growing your customer base. The only rule we recommend is ensuring your testimonials are one of the first things your customers see, so aim to include them in the top fold of your website. Here are some examples of how they could look.

Social media interactions.

Image: Wordstream

Many companies use interactions on their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages to mine for customer testimonials because of their organic, natural feel. You can literally ‘copy and paste’ social media testimonials, or screenshot them directly from your page, spelling mistakes and all. Remember, this is real-life feedback – so keep it real.

Feedback from those ‘in the know.’

Image: Wordstream

You can also approach industry insiders for their thoughts on your product or service. Like social media feedback, these come with the benefit of being relatable, ‘real life’ feedback and opinions from individuals, but go a step further by leveraging the expertise and credibility of the individual featured and even can help you highlight (and attract) your ideal customer.

Quotes from satisfied customers.

Image: Wordstream

You’ve likely seen these before, they typically consist of a quote from a customer explaining why a product or service is so great. These can be really useful, especially if you use a range of quotes that highlight different strengths of your product or service. If you’re going to gather feedback like this, make sure you post it alongside a photo of the person giving the quote – without one, it’s almost impossible for a reader to connect to the message being delivered.

The video testimonial.

Some businesses wanting to overcome any scepticism associated with testimonials are going one step further and levelling up to video feedback. These video testimonials not only prove the legitimacy of the feedback, they also allow prospects to connect with the satisfied customer on a completely different level. Check out these examples of great video testimonials.

How do you gather testimonials?

Aside from taking comments directly from social media, there’s really only one way to gather up testimonials and that’s by asking – and there are a few ways you can do this.

1. Go old skool

Your best, most repeat customers are going to give you the best testimonials, so why not take the old fashioned, personal approach and ask them for their thoughts directly? Chances are they’ll be flattered you care and you’ll strengthen your relationship in the process.  

2. Follow up with recent customers

To have the best shot at gathering multiple powerful testimonials, you need to find a way to request and receive them at scale. Consider an email campaign that automatically sends emails to recent customers after a purchase/ interaction to ask for feedback while their experience is still fresh in their mind. 

3. Advertise your desire for feedback

Don’t be shy about asking for feedback. More often than not it’s viewed as a form of quality control, showing you’re keen to deliver the best experience possible to your customer.  So, go ahead and place a call to action on your website, a sign in-store, or a note on an emailed receipt asking customers to share their thoughts on your business, product or performance.

4. Incentivise feedback

If you’re really looking for volume, why not entice feedback by rewarding consumers with a discount on future purchases if they take the time to leave a rating or written feedback on your site.

5 quick tips for making the most of your testimonials


  1. Use a range of testimonials to highlight different strengths
  2. Be specific when you ask for feedback – ask your customers to discuss areas you want to highlight.
  3. Use testimonials to highlight your USP 
  4. Hand-pick testimonials from the customers you’re keen to attract more of i.e. your ideal customer
  5. Avoid posting a testimonial without a visual of the person giving feedback