Using Targeted Testimonials To Build Conference Attendance And Increase Exhibitors, Sponsors

The most powerful sales and marketing tool that builds attendance or helps new exhibitors and sponsors sign on the dotted line is a targeted testimonial.

Photo by theparadigmshifter

Author and speaker Jeff Gitomer said it best: “When you say it about yourself, it’s bragging. When somebody else says it about you, it’s proof!”

Most organizations use testimonials as part of their marketing strategy but fail to implement them to their full advantage.

Take a look at these testimonials

  • “The ABC conference was the best conference that I attended last year.”
  • “The trade show delivered significant ROI for our company.”
  • “XYZ provided exceptional customer service.” 

Add Benefit Statements And Value Added Phrases To Increase Testimonial Impact

Yes, it’s nice to share this kind of praise. Adding specific benefits or value-added items to these testimonials is even nicer. By going a little deeper, you can deliver a message with greater impact:

Now consider these testimonials

  • “The ABC conference was very rewarding for me professionally. I brought back ideas for new sales strategies that have increased my production by more than 10 percent. I can’t wait to join you in Orlando next year.”
  • “The trade show delivered twice as many qualified leads as any other show we participated in last year. We had steady traffic, great quality leads, and plan to expand our presence at next year’s event.”
  • “We used ABC Company for the last five years, but switched to XYZ for our 2010 event. Now we realize what exceptional customer service is like. We only wish we would have switched our vendors sooner.” 

Use Targeted Testimonials For Specific Audience Segments

Smart marketers target testimonials to the audience that they are trying to attract. By segmenting your audience, you can deliver targeted, persuasive messaging. For example a specific campaign and testimonials to attract first-time attendees can improve results. Always include the company and individual’s name and title to increase credibility.

Use Case Studies, Personal Stories And YouTube Videos For Testimonials

Using case studies, participant’s stories and YouTube videos can crank your testimonials up a few notches. These types of testimonials can help accelerate the sale, reduce risk, add credibility to your pitch and help a potential attendee justify attendance. Consider these tips:

  • Use the words “case study” in the title and subject line. It gets people’s attention.
  • Profile the customer, including industry, size of organization and title.
  • Include a photo of the client, photo from the convention or client logo with case studies and participant stories.
  • Identify real business issues, challenges or objections that need to be overcome (e.g., too expensive, too much time away from the office, or not strong enough educational content).
  • Build suspense.
  • Give them a happy ending. Document quantifiable results, such as how you delivered value for their exhibition or sponsorship dollars, provided education that they couldn’t get anywhere else, or expanded their business network. 

When using case studies, follow these steps:

  1. Profile
  2. Challenge
  3. Solution
  4. Results.

Keep each case study to one page and 300-500 words. Post them on your Web site and distribute as PDFs on a targeted basis.

The ultimate selling tool is to videotape your best client testimonials or case studies and post on your YouTube Conference Channel. After viewing a believable, satisfied customer with an emotional tie to your conference, a prospect will feel more confident about your value proposition.

This post was adapted from an orgignal post printed in Convene. It was reprinted with permission of Convene, the magazine of the Professional Convention Management Association. © 2010

What success have you had with attendee testimonals?

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  1. Three points…

    1) Yes, you are correct in that gathering great quotes can easily make the difference between Winning By a Nose or Losing By a Nose.

    I’ve found that the most effective way to secure the type of testimonial you’re talking about is to address the issue of receiving valuable content head on.

    Here’s what I’ve found works.

    Remind the indivudal of what they said, what you’ve heard, what happened, and most of all what does all this mean to them so that they are thinking in a manner addressing what you need.

    “So what you’re telling me is that from what you learned last month you’ve already secured a $12M contract….Was that profitable?…You bet, 18% profit!…Could you send me that as a testimonial with some of the stats?”

    Translation,you must assist those you’re working with in the conversion of what’s happened to them into the ROI testimonial that works for you.

    2) You choreograph the diversity of testimonials. I always make the assumption that the person is ready to move on in their lives and my testimonial and what’s in the testimonial is not a priority. It’s my job to round out my library. Mmmmm…I have three people telling me about operations, I need one on the panel discussion. The testimonial will be very useful for our next video.

    Remember, no knows what you need or cares about you as much as you do. (…well maybe grandma)

    3) Jeff, here’s a quote I made up years ago that you may like. “You’re only truly great when other people tell other people that you’re great.”


    This is the 50,000 foot quote. It says testimonials are great but the real value is when they go viral.

    “Candice says that working with Velvet Chainsaw is as fantastic as getting two dozen roses for Valentines day. These guys are the balm.”

    For this type of viral testimonial you can’t just do a good or great job, you have to do a job that is so spectacular that your attendees, vendors, and even the staff are talking about how great (insert name or organization ) performs.

    Yes, I said staff…AV, F&B, stage hands, etc. Here’s a sample…

    “Having produced hundreds of events all throughout Palm Springs and around the country I’ve had the opportunity to work with all types of so called professionals. In my opinion, few compare to David Goldsmith. Hired as a strategist and facilitator of a large multinational corporation he showed up to work with a marketing team that had dropped to ball on the entire production elements of a global client conference. David stepped in, assumed the role of the production manager and turned lemons into lemonade. All within a day and a half of the opening session. In my opinion he can produce an event like few others I’ve ever witnessed.”

    Brent Raymond
    Director, Sales Audio Visual
    PSAV – Presentation Services

    This means sales, operations, logistics, marketing, speaker or facilitator selection, venue, your back channel, pre-programming, etc. has to ALL be choreographed like a symphony orchestra.

    “The ultimate testimonial is one you may never hear but everyone else does.”

    4) Don’t store your quotes in a file cabinet, a folder or a word doc. They get lost or forgotten. I’ve found the best way to store quotes is where they can be useful…on your web site on a quotes page.

    When someone sends me a testimonial it immediately is put to use. Jeff, your quote is right on top of one of my testimonial banks…

    …if you wait, the odds are the testimonial will be lost. The value is that when you do need the quotes they are very, very, very, easy to find. When building our new site we pulled 72 quotes in a matter of minutes.

    Great post…as always, my two cents.

    Jeff, looking forward to our next talk. (Clean up as you see fit)

    David Goldsmith
    MetaMatrix Consulting Group

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      Thanks for the comments and furthering the discussion. Very insightful (as usual) and practical tips.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeff Hurt and PlannerWire Staff, Zerista Pro. Zerista Pro said: Fwd: Using Targeted Testimonials To Build Conference Attendance And Increase Exhibitors, Sponsors: … #eventprofs […]

  3. Scott Briscoe says:

    I’m going to step in and disagree. Testimonials are word-of-mouth marketing, which is, in my opinion, the best kind of marketing any company could hope for.

    However, too many orgs solicit these kinds of testimonials and then present them as part of their marketing materials. I think just about every marketplace in existence knows to pay very little attention to these testimonials. We’re suspicious, and, really, we’d expect you to present these kinds of things about yourself.

    The powerful testimonials, the ones that really influence people, are the ones you may not even know about. It’s people having an experience with you that delights them so much that they have to tell people about it, via Twitter, Facebook, or (gulp) even face-to-face. I’d say put less effort into trying to market your offerings and put that effort into creating offerings that others want to market for you on their own, in their way–no prodding necessary.

  4. Dave Lutz says:


    I’m going to adopt Jeff Hurt’s “both and” philosophy here. I agree with you that the WOM reach through social networks is a great way to create personal buzz and use testimonials effectively. In that case it’s about creating satisfied customers and customer evangelists…dare I say, meeting attendee evangelists. Ultimately, what every meeting and event organizer wants to do.

    Now for the “and” part. I also think it’s imperative to use testimonials that are targeted to specific vertical segments. I think event professionals rely too much on general broadcast marketing materials that are one-size fits all. The larger conferences that I’ve see with effective marketing strategies encourage the personal WOM outreach and also use very targeted marketing materials that have a well-written testimonial for a specific niche group. Making sure those testimonials tell a short story goes even one better. The key is making sure that they are authentic to be trusted.

    So I agree with you that WOM through personal and social reach is effective and should be coupled with targeted specific marketing materials that have personal testimonials on them as well.

  5. […] Send the right testimonial to the right prospect. Ever hear that commercial “attention Medicare recipients…..” Well if you’re not a Medicare recipient, you don’t care and stop listening.  Testimonials are the same way and can work for you or against you. Ensure you understand the needs of your prospects and use the right testimonial for the right prospect. Read more on targeting your testimonials. […]

  6. […] Member testimonials can do a great deal to build trust and it’s been proven time and time again that there is no more powerful form of marketing. It would work best to scatter testimonials  throughout various pages, using specific testimonials to drive the content of each specific page. […]

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