Buying it Legit?

Legitmate honest feedback is exceptionally hard to get and exceptionally valuable.

I recently got an email from a newsletter offering me something for free, only conditionally though. I could a free gift if - and only if - I left an audio testimonial about how wonderful a different product or service is.

Is that authentic? Is it honest or is it a bit scammy? What markets is that a good idea for and what markets is that a bad idea for? Are there better ways to build your brand reputation?

Published: January 12, 2006 by Aaron Wall in marketing


February 10, 2006 - 3:12am

Getting a GOOD AND LEGITIMATE testimonial is not as hard as it seems IF you have a good product/service and give good customer support. Its not rocket science.

I haven’t had time to upload all the testimonials we get to our site ( - I have about 180 for our mobile phone unlocking service - - sitting waiting that have been emailed to us that have yet to be put into the site - let alone have the time to make up bogus ones.

I can't understand why someone would make testimonials up. I have an email for every single testimonial we use so if someone queries it, we can prove it - its just not worth the hassle to make them up - let alone the fact you are breaking the law in making them up.

All we do is autoresponder back to the customer with an email saying "Please let us know if you thought this was great and why, or if you thought it was not, and why". This also gives some great pointers as to what can be improved, as well as the majority who give good testimonials that can be used on for marketing.

January 12, 2006 - 10:33pm

I think I got that great offer from the same newsletter. Give me a testimonial how f***ing great my newsletter is and I'll give you that worthless piece of book for free. I read it just a few minutes ago and I think I am still kinda mad and cursy about it.
Thank you for writing about it. I was about to write about it in my blog and use the f-word about 33 times.

January 12, 2006 - 10:45pm

were you at least a customer of their product or do you know their products or service well? i hope so. trying to get non-customers or someone that would not know about one's services to vouch for something is very bad business.

even if you are a customer, a business should not entice you to make testimonials by dangling gifts in front of you. if they want to send you a "non-advertised" small thank you gift after you have done a testimonial that is acceptable. otherwise the testimonial is hollow and can't be trusted.

January 12, 2006 - 10:57pm

Free = zero cost

To submit a testimonial, you must spend something: Time.

If your time is worth nothing, then you are spending nothing, and it is free.

If your time has value, then you are required to trade something of value in exchange for something free (in the hopes of getting a return on your investment, your time spent). In this case, it is not free, but an exchange.

Either way, it's additional proof that most internet marketers are cast from the same mold as lawyers, politicians and car salesman.

joe chapuis

January 12, 2006 - 11:08pm

We can debate the ethics of this practice all we want... all I can say is at least they are trying to get testimonials from their customers rather than making them up as so many do.

I received a similiar email from a person who's product I found useful but I personally would not take the time to write a testimonial and record an audio testimonial unless they were giving away something truly awesome.

I think a better way to get testimonials is to give out "Free Copies of the Software... or a limited time free membership" say 500 or so. In exchange, if the user finds the product useful get them to write a testimonial for you.

Yes, most won't do a thing but some will.

Sure beats trying to give out garbage, which makes you look like a used car salesman as was alluded to above.

January 12, 2006 - 11:09pm

Got to love the scams.... how else are new marketing methods

January 12, 2006 - 11:12pm

To submit a testimonial, you must spend something: Time

The time is not what sits on the page.

In the past I gave testimonials for a number of things that I later asked to have the testimonials removed because I realized how little follow through there was on some fronts and that I was selling my credibility wholesale.

Give me a testimonial how f***ing great my newsletter is and I'll give you that worthless piece of book for free. I read it just a few minutes ago and I think I am still kinda mad and cursy about it.

Yeah...the concept is quite similar to a ponzi scheme, except instead of selling commodities or money it is taking advantage of naive people and selling their reputation wholesale.

Got to love the scams.... how else are new marketing methods

the adult and casino industries ;)

January 12, 2006 - 11:28pm

I don't even know how valuable a testimonial is. Anyone can write a fake testimonial and even if it was an audio version, unless I am extremely familiar with the person, it could be fake.

I just assume they are always fake so my opinion would be "don't waste too much time on them".

January 12, 2006 - 11:30pm

I'm pretty sure I got the same email today. For starters, looks like a lot of us, including Aaron get this newsletter. I have learned quite a bit from it though I had never thought of leaving a testimonial.

It was clear that the request said IF you have used this newsletter AND you have proven results THEN... Can this be abused by anyone to get the free ebook? Yes.

Somewhere I learned the best way to get a testimonal was to make it part of the deal. Simply put, "I'll do abc work for $xxx and at the end, I'll ask you to write an honest review of my work that I could use as a public testimonial."

Testimonials are hard to get. I think this person gave it a good try as an attempt to solicite some feedback. Negative feedback is easy to get. Positive feedback...that's hard.

January 13, 2006 - 5:43am

If you give good service and sell a good product, it will not be that hard to get a testimonial. Your customers will be happy to give it to you. I do endorse thanking them with some kind of gift after the fact, after all, they did you a favor. So, no, there is no need to bribe for them, but they truly are invaluable - don't underestimate them.

January 13, 2006 - 1:06pm

It is interesting that many people loathe to even leave feedback on auction sites. I can imagine that gettting testimonials would be incrementally harder.

I don't see the problem on the user's end if the product truly is good. Is it ethical for the seller to offer incentives? Seems slightly slimy, imho.

January 14, 2006 - 1:04am

Testimonials are essentially useless unless the person reviewing the product/services is of some sort of acclaim. Otherwise, your testimonials can't be backed by anything of substantial integrity.

January 14, 2006 - 1:09am

LOL is it a newsletter from a certain SEO software marketer offering a certain book on AdSense for free? ;-)

January 14, 2006 - 6:41pm

I think this method of capturing feedback is bogus! Let's see, I give you something but prior to giving it to you, you have to tell me how great it is - crazy. Wonder how much they actually use the audio dubs. Just my $0.02...

Donovan Kovar
January 16, 2006 - 9:41am

In some situations, offering something (a free gift) in exchange for a testimonial is appropriate.

You are essentially paying for the time and energy that another person expends to say what they are already thinking...

The world is obviously imperfect, use it to your advantage.

January 28, 2007 - 1:56pm

Duncan is right, that technique works. People love to get their own voice or message out.

If they are allowed to use their photo they will like it even more. I contact our customers by email, asking them for a testimonial. I let them know it will be placed on the site. They also provide me with photos sometimes. I ask for it as well!


July 26, 2007 - 1:32pm

I have read Internet Marketing biggies recommending this strategy of acquiring ( o.k. , buying ) Testimonials. I agree to what joe chapuis said above.

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