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3 Steps to Making Your Content More Credible (Prior to Publication)

Out of 42 different content marketing tactics, the CMI Content Marketing Playbook and CMI community ranked testimonials as one of the top 10 tactics.

Testimonials can definitely give your content that extra boost — and credibility —your audience is looking for.

But here’s the thing: Receiving testimonials after a project is complete is easy enough. But how do you receive testimonials when your content isn’t published yet?

Your content is ready to go. It’s proofed, designed and looking sharp. And, hey, the landing page is looking nifty, too.

What’s missing? Some testimonials to tip the scales in your favor.

The secret to receiving testimonials ahead of time

The secret to receiving testimonials before publishing your content is to give it away to a handful of people and ask for a testimonial from those select recipients. Testimonials help position your content in the best possible light and supply that extra “push” it needs to get noticed.

However simplistic this idea may appear, few people act on it. Instead, we cross our fingers and hope for the best.

But there are some easy steps you can take to increase the chances of receiving those testimonials:

  1. Identify five influential people.
  2. Craft a short, compelling email introduction.
  3. Email your content (if possible), and directly request a testimonial.

Step 1: Identify five influential people

The key is choosing five people who can benefit from your content and have their own audience or network that will also benefit.

You may know five people in your own network who may enjoy receiving your content; but if they’re not the target audience for your information because they can’t apply it to their business or they wouldn’t know how to share it with their network, you may not reap the full benefits of this advanced action.

Look for five people in your market who could use your insights in their business. If they find it helpful, they’ll likely feel more inclined to share it with their network and friends.

What if you can’t find people in your market?

If you are having trouble identifying influencers to reach out to for testimonials, try looking at these places to help you get started:

  1. LinkedIn contacts
  2. LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your business
  3. Twitter followers
  4. Industry bloggers
  5. Current customers
  6. Past customers
  7. Local companies

Step 2: Craft a short, compelling email introduction

Once you’ve identified your five targets, it’s time to contact them. If you know someone personally, a phone call is certainly a great way to see if he is interested in receiving your content and providing a brief testimonial.

If you have a relationship with someone, a phone call is a great way to see if your content might be of value to them. If they find your content intriguing, you can then ask for a testimonial after reviewing it. Let them know right away there is no obligation to write one.

If you don’t know any of your targets, an email might be a better way to introduce yourself. Emphasize how and why your content will help them and their audience.

Tell them you are seeking testimonials before the official launch of your new content, and that you would be honored to send them an exclusive preview for their consideration. Be sure to mention that there is no obligation to write a testimonial; they should only write one if they found the information helpful.

Here is an email template you can easily modify for your own purposes. You can even use a version of this for a phone call.

  1. Introduction. In one sentence, share what your content is and why your contact (and their audience) will find it helpful.
  2. Ask for a testimonial. If your contact finds the content unique and helpful, ask for a testimonial. Of course, share with them that they’re not obligated to write one; it’s entirely up to them.
  3. Attach your content. It’s easy to forget to attach your content! If you don’t have an attachment, consider providing a link pointing to your content.
  4. Close with a version of “thank you for your time.”

Step 3: Email your content and testimonial request to your targets

Once your email is crafted, send it to a friend for proofing and to get some honest feedback on your approach.

Ask how that friend would feel about receiving such an email out of the blue. If your friend has suggestions, incorporate their changes, attach your content to the email (or link), and send it off to your targets.

Next steps

Here’s a nudge: Do you have a project nearing completion? If so, it’s time to get moving.

Scan your contact list and write down five people who can benefit from your insights. Remember: If there’s a benefit for your targets, your odds of receiving powerful testimonials will be improved.

Over to you

How do you ask for and receive testimonials for content that hasn’t been published yet?

Do you wait until content is published to gather testimonials?

Feel free to share your experiences in the comments area.