Are Paid, Fake Customer Testimonials a Good Idea for Your Business?
Maybe I’m naive but I was blown away the other day by an email solicitation I received from a ‘Paid Video Testimonial’ Company. Upon visiting their website, I read the following headline and subsequent copy:
Real People. Real Video Testimonials.
We Will Review Your Product Or Website And Film A Positive Video Testimonial You Can Use In Your Marketing And Promotions, To Build Customer Trust And Skyrocket Your Sales In Under 14 Days!
If you have a business, website or sell products on the internet you know just how hard it is to get high quality, sincerely positive testimonials to enhance your marketing. Even if your product is awesome and people love it – getting them to take time out of their day, sit down in front of a camera, and do you a favour of a testimonial is near IMPOSSIBLE!
NOT ANY MORE…
Forget having to chase up ex-clients for a testimonial!
Simply get one of our real, authentic, down-to-earth people to record one for you. Your business and marketing will shoot through the roof!
We personally review your e-product and or website and get one of our team to record a positive testimonial for you to upload and use on your website or youtube promotions.
Are Paid Videos Ethical?
As many of you know, I’ve talked quite a bit about the power of video and video testimonials for business marketing and branding in the past. No doubt, every website, and I really do mean EVERY, should show a mix of textual and video testimonials. As an example, just go to my Web Coaching page and you’ll see how I’ve set it up here on The Sales Lion. Or visit my pool company’s website where I have at least one testimonial of some type on almost every page.
Now granted, I do understand the company that sent me this email stated they would review the product after it was sent to them. In other words, they could hypothetically say that the videos are by no means ‘fake’, considering they’ve had to review the actual product.
Notwithstanding, this whole idea does not sit well with me for a variety of reasons:
#1: They ain’t real: Call them what you want, but they ain’t real. A customer is a customer, an ‘actor’ is an actor….and in this case, an actor is a ‘fake’. Such a practice is the opposite of transparency in my opinion.
#2: How could a business owner be so desperate? In their ad copy above, the company states that getting a customer testimonial is nearly ‘impossible’. If I may say in no uncertain terms, this is a total load of horse dung. In my 10 years of being in business, I’ve never had a happy customer tell me they weren’t willing to give a testimonial. There have been countless instances when my business partners and I have simply, in the midst of conversing with a customer, whipped out one of our little flip cameras and recorded a quick 60 second blurb. The effort, beyond actually buying the camera (these days you can just do it on your phone), is absolutely minimal.
#3: A rat smells like a rat: Consumers ain’t dumb. As humans, we all have a general ability to pick up another’s sincerity—or lack thereof for that matter. If you as a business owner elect to utilize fake testimonials, you very well may hurt your brand much more than you actually help it.
Be Real or Disclose It
So how do I feel about paid customer testimonials? Well, I’m sure you’ve gotten my point by now. But if you do feel that such a questionable practice is your only option, then you should at least follow the example of the health and drug industry and offer a full disclosure to consumers. But I have to ask myself why anyone would ever get to this point. Again, testimonials, at least for quality-driven companies, are very easy to gather. Whether it’s a web-cam, a flip-cam, or simply a camera on your cell phone; take advantage of technology and gather as many of these all-important social proofs as possible.
Now that you’ve heard my thoughts, I’d very much like to know yours. How do you feel about paid video testimonials? Legit or not? C’mon, speak your mind and jump in the conversation below.