Raise your hand if there’s often a disconnect between what you know and what you do?
You see, I know how powerful testimonials or reviews can be.
- I see them on product pages and they convince me to hit the buy button.
- I see them on sales pages and see how powerful they are at conveying benefits.
- I see them on book covers and they convince me to add them to my to-read list.
And while I have dozens of articles saved about how to collect testimonials. I hardly ever ask for them.
In fact, for almost two years, I’ve been saying I need to create a system to ask for, collect, and use testimonials. And from time to time, it’s shown up on my to-do list. But I’ve never done it.
And as the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
So while it would have been great to start collecting them years ago. I’m no longer going to delay because it would have been better to ask when I originally worked with someone.
And to help me stick to this goal, I’ve written down how I think testimonials will serve my business.
Testimonials show that creatives like you, find this legal stuff easy (or at least do-able) when working with me.
Of course, as a lawyer, I notice that one important topic is missing. And that’s the need to get permission to use a testimonial.
This is true no matter how you get the testimonial:
- she emails you
- she posts about your products on Instagram
- she tells you over coffee
- she submits a review on your website
It applies regardless of the way they say nice things about you or your work.
Why do you need permission to post testimonials?
Depending on the length of the testimonial, it might not have copyright protection. So you aren’t asking for permission on copyright grounds.
You are asking for permission because testimonials serve as an endorsement of your product or service. And as consumers, we are using that endorsement to make a buying decision.
We think in our head:
Oooh! I totally have a business crush on that woman, and if she says your products are amazing, then I want them too!
Because the testimonial encourages a sale, it functions as a product/service advertisement.
And there’s this little-discussed area of the law called, “right of publicity.” The right of publicity allows you to control how and when your name, image, or likeness is used to sell a product.
Of course, when it comes to celebrities this seems obvious. You can’t have companies slapping Kim Kardashian’s name on a product without her approval.
But these laws don’t just apply to celebrities, they apply to you and me.
And here’s where you might start to hate me. Because these laws aren’t based on where you live, but where the person giving the endorsement lives.
And what this law does and doesn’t cover, varies state to state. And each of the 27 states that recognize this right, has a slightly different rule.
- Some states say you can’t use someone’s signature without permission.
- Some won’t let you use their voice without permission.
- Some allow this right to live on after you die and you must get permission from the estate.
Say for example I included a testimonial from a woman who lives in Nebraska on an Instagram post.
Even though I live in California, the law in play is the law of Nebraska.
And since Nebraska is one of the 27 states with a right of publicity, if I didn’t get her permission, I could be in trouble.
How do you avoid all this madness?
Of course, there’s an easy way to avoid this, ask permission.
If you’ve got the go-ahead, then it doesn’t matter what the laws of their state say.
So when someone says something that would make a great testimonial, send her a quick email. And ask permission for the exact text, image, and links you’d like to use. Earn bonus points by providing her a screenshot of what it will look like.
Once she replies yes, you’ll have an electronic paper trail and won’t have to fret.
Take the next step
Create your own path and confidently take your best next step by:
- Creating a canned response you can use to quickly ask permission. And then anytime someone says something nice about your products or services, you can get it off in a jiffy!
- Send your canned response to any testimonials you are currently using that you don’t have an electronic paper trail for!
- Run an Etsy shop? Make sure you understand what you can and can’t do with Etsy buyer information by reading this post.
What’s your process for collecting and using testimonials? Join the conversation below!
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