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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Getting Testimonials from Blue Chips

My customers are large corps.  How do I go about getting testimonials from them to put on my web site?

When I worked in a large company and my suppliers asked for testimonials or to approve a joint press release I would have to go to the PR department and get embroiled in their BS in order to get permission to release any endorsement that would be public.  So I had zero motivation to help the suppliers even if I was a real fan of the product.

But I see other small outfits like mine with big logos on their web sites like http://jbgb.com/OurCustomers.htm  How do they do it?

Thanks for any advice.
Guy Send private email
Sunday, July 14, 2013
 
 
Ask yourself, do you really think that most software companies who list their customers logos have received, or even asked for, permission to do so?
Nicholas Hebb Send private email
Sunday, July 14, 2013
 
 
They probably used the 'Catholic' model - just do it, then beg forgiveness if you get caught.

You can also put it in your EULA that the customer grants you permission to list them on your customer page, unless they request otherwise.
Andy Brice Send private email
Sunday, July 14, 2013
 
 
BTW I have emailed a load of customers before asking their permission. If they said 'no' I didn't list them, obviously. But if they said 'ok' or didn't reply, I listed them.
Andy Brice Send private email
Sunday, July 14, 2013
 
 
"small outfits ... with big logos on their web sites"
I had to check to make sure this wasn't on the Onion website.  So a company called Jambusters got publication releases from BP, GSK, CA and Zurich along with the iconic Maxi-Taxis, Wolverhampton City Council and Britannia Building Society?

"You can also put it in your EULA that the customer grants you permission to list them on your customer page"
And if your customer doesn't like it, three things happen.  One, you make your customer your enemy.  Two, you can be easily and profitably sued for using your customer's good name in vain.  Three, you have exposed yourself as a two-bit business with no sense and no ethics.

In general, endorsements (and a testimonial is an endorsement where money doesn't change hands, i.e. it's of no value) only work when the endorsee and endorser are of similar standing, and the endorsee's customers are aspirational individuals who ironically see themselves as powerless.  Phrased differently, endorsements are only effective with people who see themselves as losers, but don't want to be losers forever, and they look for obvious non-losers to emotionally associate themselves with.  I'm sure it works for selling footwear to wannabee athletes, painkillers to TV addicts and so on.

Even if I'm wrong about when endorsements are effective, mutually linking your business to a blue chip business without paying for it is never going to happen.  Brand names are assets, paid for with large investments of cash, time and hired labour.  Every time you rent out a brand name (regardless of the fee,) it depreciates the brand name.  Some brand names can be milked as a cash cow, but if you do that, the cow will always go dry eventually.
Howard Ness Send private email
Sunday, July 14, 2013
 
 
I never asked for permission.
Bring back anon Send private email
Sunday, July 14, 2013
 
 
Most of our customers are F1000, and yes, I've asked several times. I usually get a "sure!", "sorry we don't *do* that" or "we'll get back to you".

Responses are mixed, but it's mostly been an uphill battle.

Here's my template:

------------------------------------------------------

Hi <Customer's First Name> !

I hope this email finds you well.

We're in the midst of putting together a "Some customers using  <Your Company's> products..." page on our website.

Could you tell me what would be required to secure logo/name use permission via the proper channels within your company?

We take tremendous pride in our association with you and your organization and simply would not be here today without your expert guidance and vision.  Hopefully you're able to make this happen.

Lastly,  a few *real* nice updates are on the horizon - I'll send a separate email about this.

Thanks again.

<You>
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

The part about a some "updates" being available is real: I simply do NOT email people without having something immediately available to offer them.  If you've had a few low-hanging-fruit features waiting in the wings, I suggest you knock them out , send the email and follow-up with a s/w update so they know you're not screwin' around.

Good luck.
BI Baracus Send private email
Sunday, July 14, 2013
 
 
If it is a big company, then you obviously have to go through proper channels and follow their internal procedures. The issue is that your users probably don't really know what the proper procedure is, although they may have a vague idea about which department(s) might be involved. They'll also assume that it is difficult and time-consuming, so will likely fob you off, rather than be seen as the one who "wastes time" pushing something like this.

An alternative approach may be to get in touch with their corporate communications (or equivalent) department and let them guide you, as they will have the procedures to hand and it is their job to ensure that these things happen in a way that is satisfactory to the company stakeholders.
Scorpio Send private email
Monday, July 15, 2013
 
 
I've done about it differently.  When I get an email with someone praising us, I immediately write back and ask if we can quote them on the website.  I tell them it will look exactly like this:

"I sure love your awesome software"
Bill W.
Big Corp, Inc
USA

I'd guess 90% of the time they immediately respond saying it's OK.  A few times they'll say they can't because of corporate requirements. 

Maybe the good success rate is because we're showing it was Bill making the quote, and so it's not necessarily an endorsement from the company, but we still get to show they are using the software.
Doug Send private email
Monday, July 15, 2013
 
 
Doug, your approach of quoting the man in the machine is good, because it makes it makes the individual who made the decision to purchase your software feel good.  Who knows, it might even carry some weight with other individuals in similar circumstances.  But don't cut and paste corporate logos or make too much noise about who your customer is employed by.  Better to let sleeping dogs lie.

The argument against testimonials is one that I've lost many times, because of managers who refuse to let a total absence of objective evidence that free endorsements result in greater sales change their opinions.  I do have a couple of horror stories involving previously happy customers, who provided proper publication releases, who withdrew permission once they started getting phone calls from "qualified prospects".  The last thing our sales reps said to these prospects was "why don't you call Mr. So And So, so you get an impartial opinion, instead of taking my word."

These phone calls started with obnoxious questions about how much compensation was provided to the endorser, followed by insults designed to provoke a debate about the endorser's business acumen.  Both horror stories involved senior executives with the authority sign 7 figure contracts in niche markets where everyone knows everyone else.  As much as you detest your colleagues and competitors, you can't afford to burn bridges.

So, if I can't convince you that testimonials are a bad idea, at least do your best to make sure no one pays attention to them.
Howard Ness Send private email
Monday, July 15, 2013
 
 

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