Testimonials are important in marketing. Nothing beats a real testimonial singing the praises of your product or services.
When I write marketing copy for a client, testimonials are among the first inputs I ask for. They really make a difference in the tone and credibility of the copy.
But sometimes the business would be so new that the client would not have any testimonials yet. So what do you do then?
My solution is to write “hypothetical testimonials” that express my client’s rendering of what an imaginary prospect would have thought or said had she in fact used the product or service in question.
This way I avoid committing a misrepresentation (by inventing a real testimonial that does not exist) while planting the seeds of a realistic and positive outcome in the prospect’s mind. When a real testimony does not exist, I think that’s the best a copywriter can do without crossing over into the misrepresentation territory.
For example, imagine you are Linda Smith, a (fictional) Real Estate buyer’s agent and you have commissioned a copywriter to draft a copy introducing your services without any real client testimonials.
Then I would recommend something like the following, written with your voice:
And imagine yourself moving into that home of your dreams overlooking the Pacific Palisades, with three bedrooms and a media room in the basement. I can imagine you out there in the balcony enjoying the sweet ocean breeze and thinking:
This is exactly what I always wanted, down to the monthly payments right within my range! I have no idea how Linda Smith did this but I won’t worry about that part…
The copy in italics clearly is a hypothetical testimonial since it expresses your thoughts (as “Linda Smith”) about what a prospect MIGHT be thinking after purchasing a hypothetical home of her choice.
I think a sales or web copy with such hypothetical constructs would be more powerful than without them. And since you make it very clear that it is no more than a figment of your client’s imagination (“ I can imagine you out there … and thinking”) there is no misrepresentation either.
A “hypothetical testimonial” is a legitimate copy device that you may choose to employ when you do not have any better input from your client.