Testimonials vs. endorsements: why attorneys need both and how to get them


Earlier today, I reported the news about one of my posts being chosen Pick of the Week by SmallLaw, a Technolawyer email publication. It is an honor to be recognized by one’s peers and I hope you are being similarly recognized.

From a marketing standpoint, awards and other mentions, particularly from a peer, are an endorsement of your character or abilities, providing a form of “social proof” to the market that what you do has value and can be trusted. This kind of approbation is even more valuable when it comes, as did this award, unsolicited.

Attorneys should have both endorsements and testimonials in their marketing tool box and leverage them to get new clients and build their reputation.

Testimonials are words of praise from satisfied clients attesting to your manner and abilities. They hired you, they were happy with what you did for them, and they recommend your services to others.

Endorsements are words of praise from peers or other highly regarded individuals attesting to your character or some aspect of your abilities with which they are familiar. Awards from peers are a form of endorsement. A letter from a judge you have appeared before, photos of you with heads of state, or a letter of thanks from the head of a charitable committee you served on are other forms of endorsements.

Testimonials and endorsements can be used throughout your marketing materials to convince people to hire you, to send you referrals, or to otherwise engage with you (e.g., booking you to speak). Their power lies in the value of “third party.” When you say you are good, you risk sounding arrogant (even if it’s true) and your words may be doubted. When a third party sings your praises, it is accepted and far more persuasive.

From this day forward, I encourage you to not only collect and use testimonials and endorsements, but to actively seek them.

You will get them without asking, just as I did my Pick of the Week award. But don’t limit yourself to what may come to you unexpectedly.

When a client says something nice about you, write it down. Send their words to them and ask if you can use those words in a testimonial. Yes, write your own testimonial, based on what your client says.

Or, call your best clients and ask them for a favor: “You’ve been happy with my services, haven’t you? Would you mind providing me with a testimonial letter I can use in my marketing?” When they agree, tell them you want to make it easy for them and ask them to say a few words about your services. Write them down and send them to the client for approval.

You can also solicit endorsements. Call an attorney you know who respects you and ask them. Tell them it’s for marketing purposes and offer to reciprocate.

Another type of endorsement can be had by volunteering on a Bar committee, community group, or other “good work”. You may not get an award for your efforts, but you will get the implied endorsement of the group by simply including your participation in your bio.

Clients often don’t understand what you do and are usually poor judges of your ability to do it. Third party testimonials and endorsements bridge the gap and convince them that you can help them because you helped someone “just like them” or because someone important says you can.


The Attorney Marketing Center: Technolawyer’s “SmallLaw Pick of the Week”


Each week, the editorial staff of SmallLaw, Technolawyer’s email newsletter, sifts through hundreds of articles on the legal Web. From these articles, they select one as their Pick of the Week.

I’m proud to report that my post on “What to give new clients when they sign up,” was chosen Pick of the Week in the September 20, 2011 issue of SmallLaw.

Neil Squillante, publisher of SmallLaw, had this to say about the significance of the award:

Many awards given out these days are meaningless because marketing can play a role in determining who wins. By contrast, those who win our SmallLaw Pick of the Week don’t even know they’re in the running, and could not influence us even they did. It’s a pure editorial award. We think this process makes it meaningful and a true honor.

I am indeed honored to be chosen and proud to share this news with my readers.