Testimonials, reviews and case studies: lifesaving writing for your business

Testimonials, reviews and case studies: lifesaving writing for your business

We’re all impressed when we see written endorsements for businesses from real Kiwis on a business’s website. However…

  • We can all tell the difference between fake-sounding testimonials and heartful, genuine testimonials

  • If you want to let your audience know that your business has a heart, real human testimonials are the best way

  • Why not turn your testimonials into case studies? Try using storytelling to persuade your audience to use your business.

NZ is a country of sheepish, apologetic, polite people who cringe at the concept of talking themselves up. Thankfully, making difficult phone calls to collect testimonials is something KiwiWords specialises in.

  • Phone 021 299 0984 to get wordsmith Michael Botur to make those difficult phone calls so you can collect impartial testimonials from your best customers
  • Email mike@kiwiwords.co.nz to get a quote estimating how long it will take to collect the words that will energise your business

 

The story of how I came to be an expert in getting words out of people

When I was a cadet journalist around 2013-14, I made countless difficult cold-calls to people. That was my job, as a newsroom rookie. Often it was calling Police, Fire or Ambulance communications services to squeeze out some detail about some emergency. Other times it was phoning the houses of people likely to have witnessed a car crash outside.

The reason phone calls elicit such great words is 1) They’re impossible to ignore, unlike email and 2) The person on the other end of the phone is usually speaking with words that are impromptu, unpolished and raw. There’s also a bit of a rabbit-in-the-headlights effect, meaning the majority of people won’t hang up on you, so long as you treat them respectfully over the phone. They’ll keep responding to your questions.

Apply the above skill to collecting testimonials endorsing your business, and you’ve got written gold – after all, we can all think of instances when we’ve been persuaded to trust a business due to effective testimony from a chuffed customer.

  • Remember, testimonial words can be used on all sorts of platforms, from Google My Business to Facebook to Instagram to LinkedIn and your website

A journalist collecting testimonials and case studies for your business can make a big difference.

I’m available to capture the words that will persuade the public your business is reputable. Here’s how and why:

  • Nine times out of ten, a person you feel has complimentary things to say about your business will gift you their words, their time and their published endorsement. Ask and you shall receive.
  • Treat the person respectfully and they’ll volunteer plenty of time on the phone. You have to address the person with the correct pronunciation of his or her name, correctly use their title and acknowledge their position, then the rest is simply the art of listening (and recording, and typing frantically, and arranging the person’s words for maximum effect)
  • If your word-collector listens to what the testimony-er is saying, the words captured will “ring true” and will sound authentic and unscripted. That’s very persuasive for your audience.  
  • At KiwiWords, Mike always ensures the testifier is given a copy of their words so they can see how the words are being used so there are no surprises when a person sees their name online. It’s part of the journalism code of conduct, whereby we do our best to let a person know how their words and name are being used.

KiwiWords is here to help capture those testimonials you need to build credibility, case studies and endorsements.

Simply phone Mike Botur on 021 299 0984 or email mike@kiwiwords.co.nz and let’s begin.

E-books: Why you should publish one

Across May and June 2020, I worked on three electronic books.

Don’t know what an e-book is? An e-book can help your business talk to your audience in a respectful, educational way. It’s like classy marketing that no one can diss.

Here’s everything you need to know:

  • An electronic book is a digital publication, usually 10-30 pages in length.
  • If set up correctly, an e-book can be given to customers via your website, or sent to your mailing list with a few clicks.
  • An e-book can have a paywall and be exclusive, or it can be freely and cheaply given to your audience
  • The most common and practical format to distribute an e-book is PDF (portable document format), because it’s searchable, copyable, readers can flip through the pages easily and it’ll display on most devices
  • Need an e-book written, proofed or edited? Contact mike@kiwiwords.co.nz / 021 299 0984. 

The e-books I wrote in May and June included:

  • A guide to an Auckland renovator/building company with personal messages from the founder and lots of case studies. The purpose: To give past, present and future customers detailed information and persuasive photos to demonstrate the thoughtful solutions offered by the company
  • A guide from a Kaitaia realtor about how and why people can or should sell their own houses. The purpose: To let the reader know that our expert is available to provide sales services if, after having read the book, the reader is still finding the job too challenging
  • A children’s book about evolutionary biology called My Animal Family. The purpose: education and entertainment (I’ll be trying to get an experienced publisher to put this book in front of children around the world, but until then, I need an easily-sendable document, created with Adobe, which can have its text easily updated.)

 

The e-books I created for clients this year had the following in common:

  • Landscape orientation, white background
  • Easy to print if the business wants to put a paper copy in a customer’s hands (high resolution photos; large headings)
  • 2000-6000 words, meaning not so brief that the book doesn’t leave an impression, and not so long that the reader gets lost or bored.
  • Drafted on Google Docs. Google Docs is perfect because it’s simple to set up, easily shareable and editable, and you can save your e-book as a PDF or Word doc any time you like.

 

The differences between these e-books were the following:

  • The renovation expert’s e-book identified ten customer segments, and focused on visual proof with calls to action and bold, clear headings. The takeaway message: the renovator can provide the building work required to create a customer’s dreams
  • The realtor’s e-book downplayed calls to action, with a more biographical storytelling approach, and a soft sell. The persuasive message: The realtor told the story of how he became a master expert real estate salesman, learning from his mistakes, letting the reader know that he/she could have the same learning journey

 

Typically, e-books are used to achieve the following:

  • When a customer is sitting on the fence about using your services, an e-book which contains persuasive, carefully thought-out information should convince a prospective customer to say Yes
  • An e-book sent out occasionally will remind a customer that you would like the customer’s business
  • E-books build expertise – they tell the world you know your trade thoroughly enough to write a whole book about it
  • E-books are intelligent advertising.
  • E-books add thoughtfulness as one of your brand qualities, while your competition/opposition appear less intelligent than you if they haven’t published an e-book
  • E-books are simple to share. A converted customer can easily share your book with a yet-to-be-converted customer.

 

In previous years, I’ve created the following for clients:

  • A Northland property management company wanted ebooks persuading warm customers to rent out their houses
  • Northland DHB asked for my input on creating a number of health publications, usually in PDF and printable layout
  • I’ve helped a housing project in Te Kauwhata create PDF ebooks to help persuade warm customers to say Yes.
  • I’ve turned a number of family memoirs into e-books and published these in print and on media such as Issuu, which is flippable and easy to share with a single click.

Want an e-book written? Want me to proofread your e-book?

Email mike@kiwiwords.co.nz / phone 021 299 0984.

 

I can make your words pretty on the page with UX and UI

I can help make your words look pretty on the page with UX and UI (user experience / user interface design)

How? By designing your content and words to give the best user experience. 

I’m excited to announce that this year, while continuing to offer communications, content and copywriting services, I’m studying web development.

Every day, I’m gaining expertise about how to use coding languages to make words display most effectively on the page. I want to pass that expertise on to* you. 

Adding full stack web dev as a service was a natural move for KiwiWords, considering all internet code is made from letters and English words.

In the past, I’ve offered the following web content editing help for clients:

  • Uploading blogs and synchronising these across LinkedIn, Facebook and website for a client whose blogs funnelled business to his tech repair company
  • Adjusting headings, paragraphs and meta tags to improve the search engine optimisation of a ship repair company’s posts and webpages
  • Structuring the content of a high school’s many web pages to aid the navigation of the website

Here are some of the helpful things I can do for you this year:

  • Test the display success of your website on Firefox browser and show you how your website looks on tablets, mobile phones and various monitors and browsers
  • Adjust your content to make the most of flexbox and grid options
  • Test and improve how animations display
  • Help your users “fall into the pit of success” (I prefer to think of it as funnelling users towards conversion, but tomayto tomahto)
  • Ensuring your web content is sized and positioned appropriately
  • Make the most of your design, colours, logos, quotes and more
  • Test the upload/download speed of your website and improve it to make it display in under one second
  • Set the best hierarchy of content so it’s easy for the user to digest

 

I’m a bit of a unicorn in that I offer not only content, but web development too.

We should talk – mike@kiwiwords.co.nz / 021 299 0984

 

*ps – Want to know how helpful with English I can be? I can explain the difference between on to and onto

How Northland/Auckland communications expert KiwiWords can help you this month

I can help you communicate this month in the following ways – digital writing, ghost writing, advice on structuring your words and more….

Blogs, email campaigns, marketing writing, content, copywriting, web content editing, transcription, public relations, proofreading and all communications services, Auckland and Northland and Whangarei.

The COVID over-reaction is hard to respond to, but far from impossible. 

Potentially we could even argue that the level of competition amongst businesses is even considering we’ve all been flattened… but that’s kind of an amateur opinion.

ANYWAY, I’m sure you’re wanting ideas about ways KiwiWords can turns a crisis into a chance to talk to your audience. 

Here are some ways that communications, content and copywriter Michael Botur of KiwiWords is ready and willing to help you…

 

I want to tell my customer database that I’m approved as an essential business so I can take orders

Terrific, that’s cool – but let me help you structure your EDM mailout email campaign so that your message comes across as important and helpful, rather than just another email to delete. Also, I’ll help you so you don’t bury the lede (I’ll explain the car…) .

 

I want to announce my COVID supply solution – I’ve scribbled this thing in one draft, shall I share it with the world?

God, no. Let Mike structure the words in a way which is effective and easy to understand. Mike will point out the strongest parts of your announcement and identify anything that’s missing. 

 

I want to get a news story out but I don’t know how to approach journalists

Mike – a trained journalist – will identify ideal publications and key contacts for you to send your story to. 
 
I’ve taken a shitty photo with my cellphone camera, can I publish it?

Um, no. Get KiwiWords to snap 100 photos from you and pluck the best – high resolution, clear, well-lit, best composition. One great photo can be used 1000 times. 

 

I have an opinion about the effect of the Level 4 lockdown on my business – should I post it on my LinkedIn and will the world come to me? 

Nah, bro. Sorry. The best strategies are 1) Get media help to publish your opinion so as to reach thousands, and 2) Polish it, add great graphics and a great heading, and send it to a targeted audience segment from your followers. 

Also, don’t forget to use multiple channels. 

 

Web content editing? Yup, Mike offers this. 

Ghost writing? Absolutely – Mike is experienced with listening to the message you want to express and capturing that message correctly. 

Technical stuff, like designing e-books, web pages and content calendars? Yes, if it’s written communications, KiwiWords can take care of it. 

What about, like, helping me send a text message to every single Kiwi telling them to buy my brand of jandals? Sorry, only Civil Defence can invade people’s cellphones without them having registered. 

*

KiwiWords writing services take a big burden off you, allowing you to get on with the work you need to focus on.

I’m just a phone call or an email away, on 021 299 0984 or mike@kiwiwords.co.nz.

Rates for writing services begin at $69 per hour, plus GST.

KiwiWords can usually take care of overnight urgent writing jobs for $99 per hour ex GST. 

 

Communications during COVID – the good, the bad and the ugly, and what we can learn

We can learn from all the experiments in communicating during COVID.

KiwiWords offers communications, content and copywriting mostly for clients in Auckland and Northland. I, Mike Botur, founder/janitor/sponsor, am known for being down to earth – occasionally to the point of sounding borderline casual! – but clients appreciate the straight-up way I tell them which comms I think are helpful and which are a waste of time.

On that note, in my humble opinion, here are the comms I think were a good investment, and the comms which were a waste of budget… 

 

Extremely successful communications during COVID:

  • Printed mailers directly put in people’s letterboxes, with unmissable yellow and white colouring, nice font, nice paper and constructive messages. There’s no avoiding these. They’re extremely targeted. 
  • Text messages. There’s no avoiding these. They’re short, which the recipient will appreciate, and they’re guaranteed to be read, unlike EDMs
  • Smart businesses are buying intel from Facebook and Google and looking at their databases to understand the different segments of audience and what those segments might want to hear. I have a big mortgage and not much money, so ASB’s been sending me messages telling me it can help with a home loan holiday. Subway has been telling me I can order their sandwiches next week using an app and picking up a takeaway. Basically, the point is, ask yourself: What are the FAQs my audience would really appreciate being enlightened about? 

 

Moderately successful communications during COVID:

  • Electronic direct emails (EDMs). Sure, the first couple got read, but it all palls with repetition. Your audience is liable to delete your EDM if they’ve been bombarded with these. I suggest the problem is when too many of a similar comm are sent out, people get jaded. People want something fresh, so the only way to keep your EDM fresh if you absolutely must send it is

1) Time your communique so it’s not being sent in the same glut as everyone else,

2) Make it so pithy that the entire communication is delivered in the subject heading, and

3) Give your readers an exclusive piece of information that they can’t get anywhere else.

 

  • Subaru has sent me a straight-to-the-trash EDM full of fitness tips from *shudder* Art Green* as well as Subaru’s health and wellness ambassador. Subaru’s email names the car battery as one piece of tech you should keep an eye on while your car is in lockdown… except, it doesn’t directly offer any advice. Also, the EDM suggests that mechanics aren’t open for business, whereas the truth is actually they are, so long as the customer is using the vehicle to provide essential services. ps – Guys, I haven’t owned a Subaru for two years, just so you know…

 

Crap communications during COVID:

  • ATEED has spent a crapload of ratepayers’ money on an elaborate video. The video shows off the splendour of Auckland’s beaches, bush and parks… except the audience are being told by news articles on the same pages that they can’t enjoy the outdoors. The video argues the COVID lockdown is a great time to bond with whanau. Really, ATEED? Like people weren’t doing that before? I suggest the video

1) Doesn’t tell the audience anything they didn’t know

2) Has a mixed message

3) Doesn’t pause to consider that tourists can’t book holidays to visit Auckland right now (poor timing)

4) Delivers a soft, squishy message which won’t change anything in the audience’s life. Sorry, guys. Your brand is already deeply established. Not necessary.

Okay, I acknowledge Papatuanuku Is Breathing went viral, BUT can you imagine if that video launched a month after the lockdown lifted, when people could click through and book a holiday or outdoors experience in Auckland? Much better investment, IMHO. 

 

*I haven’t been a fan of Art Green since he sold $20 packets of breakfast cereal.