The use of testimonials can be a touchy subject from an ethical perspective for therapists and other holistic professionals. However, often case studies (real, hypothetical or composite ones) can be used instead of testimonials. When used effectively, testimonials or case studies can be one of the most powerful aspects of your marketing message on your private practice website. They can be the thing that encourages a hesitant potential client to take action and contact you.
Why Testimonials and Case Studies are Essential in Marketing a Holistic or Therapist Practice
The goal of an effective marketing message is to convince your prospective therapy or holistic clients that you can help them solve their problems and/or fulfill their desires. After you have shown that you understand what they need and want and indicate the benefits of your services, you must convince them that you are the best person to serve them. You need to eliminate any fears or concerns they have about hiring you. Testimonials and case studies are one of the best ways to do this.
They can add credibility to your message and show prospective clients that if others have had positive results because of their work with you, then it’s possible that they will have good results as well.
Content and Structure of Testimonials or Case Studies
The best testimonials and case studies begin with the specific “problems” clients were having at the time they made contact with you and then describe the concrete solutions/outcomes/benefits they received through using your product or service.
The more specific the case study or testimonial is, the better. For example, instead of your therapy client saying, “Susan helped me with the problems in my marriage,” a well-written testimonial might state, “When we first saw Susan, my partner and I were on the verge of splitting up. I was really scared that we would not make it. Over the course of a few months, Susan helped us learn how to communicate better. We now understand and listen to each other a whole lot more, and, as a result, our constant bickering has stopped. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time we had an argument! We are so much happier and are again envisioning a future together.”
Types of Testimonials and Case Studies
Most often, testimonials appear in written format on your website. However, with the various technologies now available for the web, increasingly people are using audio and sometimes even video for their testimonials. This gives your counselor or holistic website visitors the added option of listening to a voice and perhaps even seeing a live person, which can add even more credibility.
How To Get Testimonials from Therapy or Holistic Clients
The best testimonials are “unsolicited.” Unsolicited testimonials are those you get from clients and customers naturally without asking for them. For example, through the course of your work together perhaps a client spontaneously expresses how he or she is benefiting from seeing you.
When this happens, you should write down what the client said about how he or she benefited from your service and then ask permission to use these statements in your promotional materials. When you use unsolicited testimonials, you can identify them as such because they will often have more credibility than solicited ones.
While unsolicited testimonials may have more credibility, solicited testimonials are still very common and effective. When gathering solicited testimonials, it is best to ask for them during your work with clients or immediately at the end of your work together. If you leave it too long, clients will tend to forget the details of their experiences with you.
You can also ask clients to write testimonials for you—although this method can be problematic in that it creates work for them and some clients may not be particularly skilled at writing. As a result, you risk getting a poor testimonial even though a client may have benefited greatly from your service.
Where to Place Testimonials and Case Studies
Testimonials can be used on all of your promotional materials (brochures, websites, brochures, fliers, etc). They can either be woven into the copy (text) and/or you can designate a particular section on your website or brochure to place them. Or, if you are using case studies, putting them on a separate page often works well. I like to weave testimonials them into the copy in order to back up points I make about my services. Used in this way, testimonials add credibility and help break up the copy so that it is easier and more interesting to read.
Ethical Concerns About Using Testimonials
Some therapists and healing professionals have ethical concerns about using client testimonials as a tool for marketing their practice. This is a valid concern, and in many cases, professional and regulating bodies don’t permit members to utilize client testimonials in their therapist marketing materials. Obviously, you will always want to follow the guidelines outlined by your professional association or regulating body.
Even if your professional body does allow for the use of client testimonials, as a healing professional or therapist, you still need to choose your clients carefully and make sure they don’t feel pressured or obligated to provide a testimonial for you.
If you use testimonials, always get permission before using them. While using full names of the therapy or holistic client is always best for credibility purposes, if your clients are uncomfortable with you using their full names, you could use their initials or allow them to remain anonymous. There are also situations where it might be best not to use the names or initials of clients at all. For example, most counselors and therapists avoid using names or initials because of the sensitive nature of their work with their clients.
If you are not comfortable using client testimonials or case studies, or are restricted from doing so by your professional association or regulating body, you might want to use endorsements from employers, colleagues and referral sources instead.