By Lisa Anderson Shaffer

With social media becoming saturated with big-brand advertising, it has become more challenging to establish authentic sales relationships with customers. The modern wholesale buyer and retail customer want more than just an object — they want a story and a memorable experience. While a handmade business has a leg up in the story department, it can be difficult to know which sales tactics to invest valuable time and money in to deepen relationship with customers.

Testimonials are a great way to provide authentic feedback to your customers while focusing on selling them an experience and not just another object. Plus, testimonials are terrific opportunities to establish your expertise in the field, demonstrate the value of your work, and give your customers a personalized experience — all while letting someone else toot your own horn!

Respond to consumer buying trends

We’ve all heard about charming the elusive Millennial dollar. It gets exhausting at times wondering how to attract this young and sometimes hard to pin down consumer. But, knowing how Millennials buy and what attracts them is really important. Millennials represent the largest group of consumers since Baby Boomers, and that’s just too large of a spending potential to ignore. We know that Millennials have grown up with in-your-face advertising and have a keen nose for sniffing out inauthentic sales tactics. They are savvy when it comes to how we speak about our brand, and that’s a good thing, especially for handmade businesses. What’s a more authentic story than yours? How you started, your choice in materials, work processes, and your inspiration are the dreams creating a personalized customer connection are made of!

Millennials are more likely to make that final purchasing decision if they are able to see and read how other people use your product. Otherwise known as user generated content, this little gem of advertising focuses on letting your current customers attract new and potential customers for you. While there are many ways to go about leveraging user-generated content as effective advertising, one great way is through customer testimonials.

Read this article in the July 2018 issue

Personalizing the customer experience

Customer testimonials give consumers a direct line to your customer experience. Reading first-hand accounts of what it is like to work with you on custom orders, the beauty and thoughtfulness of your unboxing experience, and the level of your customer service start to finish, can really seal the deal and finalize that tricky sales conversion funnel. In short, using testimonials as part of an advertising strategy focuses on letting word-of-mouth lead the way for your product, and this offers a truly authentic show of support of your work.

To take a closer look at the how and why of using customer testimonials, I spoke with veteran San Francisco metalsmith and sustainable jewelry designer Sharon Zimmerman of Sharon Z jewelry about how she uses testimonials to deepen customer relationships and boost sales. When it comes to creating customer trust, Zimmerman agrees, testimonials are an important part of the process. She says, “Testimonials help your future customers feel more comfortable about working with you, while also making your existing customers feel like they are an integral part of the process.”

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