Asking Questions: Remembering Marketing and Sales are About the Buyer

You would think that the word “testimonial” would have been kicked to the curb of the marketing lexicon by now.

But as a time-honored tradition, testimonials probably will linger on websites for years to come – a tired and often ineffectual way of trying to persuade lookers that they should become buyers.

When you think about it, testimonials are an extension of one of the skills many marketers have honed to perfection: self-promotion, a vital element in any marketing strategy. But if you agree that behind every (legitimate) testimonial lies a satisfied client, an involved client, a loyal client and the type of client who will spread the word about you to others, then you will reach out and try to fully engage these clients in your business.

Like any irresistible conversation, the best way to entice someone to join the fray is to talk (and self-promote) less and start asking questions. Then you can dispense with that heavy-handed and often hollow word – “testimonials” – and watch your clients behave in ways that will leave no doubt about the regard with which they hold you and your company. Call it client-based marketing, or as it is sometimes called action-based marketing.

Self-promotion should take the stage

No matter how long you’ve been in business, you know you must market to thrive. And if you’re working with a savvy marketing company that is directing your inbound marketing efforts, you know that your website, blog, newsletters, white papers, videos and other content work together to achieve some important goals, including:

  • Informing and educating potential clients about your products or services
  • Emphasizing the value and meaning of those products and services in a client’s daily life
  • Elevating your company’s profile
  • Burnishing your company’s brand and image
  • Establishing your company (or the people in it) as an expert and resource

Client-based marketing should share the stage

Original, high-quality blogs in particular should:

  • Open a channel of communication with clients
  • Connect clients to your business in a personal way

Client-based marketing raises the stakes – and increases the value to you by not merely opening a channel but by opening a dialogue. To induce a two-way and meaningful exchange, root your efforts in question-based client interactions. Asking questions is more than a conventional way to flatter people and get their attention. You want more, and you’ll get more when you:

  • Ask for your clients’ opinions about your products or services, and do so regularly, with plenty of space for them to provide comments in the “other” category. Remember that surveys are ubiquitous, and consumers are less likely to respond unless there is an incentive.
  • Ask your clients about their likes and dislikes; ask them to weigh in on current industry trends and news; or ask them to tell you when they’ve adopted a new shopping preference. When a timely opportunity presents itself, a client-based interaction ought to sail from your website, blog, email campaign or social media post. Your goal here is to unearth invaluable psychographic data on your clients.
  • Ask your clients to contribute a “how-to” or “list” article explaining how your product or service has solved a problem or improved their life in some way. As you know from developing your own content strategy, these articles are among the most well-read. Moreover, they will dwarf mere testimonials by supplying you with robust endorsements.
  • Ask your clients to participate in a contest – perhaps “the most inventive use” of your product or service. As with every other question-based client interaction, this one is purely voluntary, but an incentive should help pique interest.
  • Ask your clients to share pictures and videos – powerful forms of content that are also highly “shareable” on social media.

These are just a few of the tactics you can use to generate engagement by asking questions and getting them involved. No matter what, always keep in mind ways in which you can provide value to your clients. This should inform your choices and yield better overall results.

Start attracting more customers to your business.




Marcia Barnes
Marcia Barnes
CEO + Founder

Marcia has a rich history in leading and serving performance-based marketing organizations with nationwide impact. In addition to leading multiple marketing agencies, she has received notable recognition for her leadership as President and CEO at Indianapolis-based Defender Direct (now called DEFENDERS). Over the course of her 14-year tenure with the company, Defender Direct experienced exponential growth from $2MM in annual revenue to more than $400MM.