The Most Critical Steps in Preparing for a Successful Business

Posted by Ben Tedore

October 17th, 2016, 11:30:11 AM
Posted in Business Start-Up, Marketing, Technology | No Comments »

Debra WardBy: Debra Ward, Marketing Consultant, Dream Weaver Marketing

Starting a new business is fun, but it takes careful planning to do it right. Even if you’ve been in business for several years, you may find this information useful. As a marketing consultant, I’ve been able to backtrack and fix some of the foundation issues for small businesses in order to help them grow. Many say they had wished they had called me sooner. My goal with this article is to help shed light on some of the most common mistakes I’ve seen over my 20-year career helping small business owners, and help advise small businesses on how they can avoid them.

The good news is that small business failure has decreased in 2016 according to Entrepreneur. It claims some of the reasons are smarter small business owners and better business-management technology. What smart business owners have learned include:

  1. Write a marketing plan. A marketing plan includes research so you can devise an effective plan of action. Most people write a business plan but forget to include important marketing research and strategies, such as:
    1. Research your competition. Know who your competitors are. This will help you better position your company as far as what makes you unique and how to price your products. This includes developing your USP, your unique selling proposition. What sets you apart from the competitors is one of the keys to your success. It allows your potential customers to see why your product is better.
    2. Research your target audience. Who is most likely to purchase your product? Look into market segmentation, and develop different content for different segments. This will help you better understand your customers so you can target them in your marketing more effectively.
    3. Set goals, objectives, and strategies. How will you attract your buyers? Your strategies may include direct mail, email, public relations, social media, content strategy, couponing, webinars, events, blogs, partnerships, and other activities that will help attract and maintain customers. An open house or “launch” event is a good start; include press releases and news stories.
    4. Set up your social media. This plays an important role too, so add it to your marketing strategies in your plan. Get your name on the Internet in as many places as you can imagine. Use different content, upload photos, and use the same mailing address, URL, and phone number, because search engines will reward you for being consistent. Join LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social media channels. Provide them with value! Don’t just sell to them. Give them something they find valuable.
    5. Develop a monthly marketing budget. Test different strategies to see what’s working. If something isn’t working, stop and try another strategy. Stay in budget. Research what your competitors are doing. Get new ideas.
    6. Track your progress. Make sure you have the Google Analytics code on every page of your website so you can track to see which pages are getting the most attention. Track your growth. Improve where you’re lacking.


  1. Set up an Internet business. Regarding your website, this is the second most common small business mistake. Some web designers are HTML specialists who design websites but are not SEO specialists. In fact, some know nothing about SEO. In my career, nine out of 10 cases, a website was designed without the proper URL, relative keywords, H1, and H2 headings. Without these very important components, a website is poorly ranked by Google and other search engines, and your website will not show up on an internet search with your competition. Here’s how to avoid the mistake. Ask you web designer to do the following:
    • Purchase keyword URLs or use keyword URLs on every unique page. For instance, “” is the company URL. But what if someone in Midwest City, OK is searching “Flowers, Midwest City.” You may want to purchase “” and point this new sub-domain to your main URL. A good web designer will know how to do this. URLs with the keyword your customer is searching for are more likely to get found because the keyword is in the URL and will get shown more times than not. This makes a huge difference. When I added the “” URL and pointed it to my business website, I received a call to consult for Nascar who would never have found me otherwise.
    • Know your keywords. There are many tools to help you come up with the keywords for your pages. These include Yahoo Keyword Tool, Google Adwords keyword planner, and many more. Know what your customers are searching to find you. Note: it’s usually not your company name if they don’t yet know you.
    • Use those keywords all over your website. Each page should have an title heading in large bold letters with keywords.
    • Whatever keywords you use in your SEO box utilizing your website’s back-end tool, use those keywords in your content at least three times.
    • Make sure you have Google Analytics code on every page.
  2. Set up an online presence. This should all be done at once. When you’re ready, publish and test your website. When working perfectly, then set up your Google Plus pages, your YouTube pages, Yahoo Business, and other online business directories like Yellow pages and Yelp. These will be important for SEO, as well as setting up pages for customer ratings that will improve your rankings. This is one of the main issues I see with small businesses. They don’t set everything up correctly the first time, and their website doesn’t get found on the Internet under relevant organic searches. This means their competition is getting the business. This is more important than most people think. Remember, Google likes Google. Setting up, verifying and populating your Google Plus page with different and unique content and keywords helps small businesses thrive because they now show up in the directory of listings. Customer ratings keep rankings high.
  1. Utilize software. Find software that helps you manage your business more efficiently. Quickbooks, and other order management and inventory management software can be very helpful in growing your business, because you eliminate countless hours of manual entries.

According to Forbes, some of the main reasons so many small businesses fail is their inability to plan, no differentiation (USP), lack of leadership, ignoring customer needs, the inability to learn from failure, and lack of capital.

Know your audience, know your SEO, know the importance in social media, and do a marketing plan. With proper planning and knowing what some of the key issues are, you can grow and achieve extraordinary results. Know what questions to ask the people you employ to help you. And most of all, become your customer. Search the Internet for the products you offer, and find out where you stand once you’re up and running. Set your plan, make your goals, test your success, and move forward with what IS working. Get rid of what’s not working.

I hope this information helps you to increase your website visits, and in turn, helps you sell more products and grow your business. Happy marketing!

Nevada SBDC Annual Report 2015

Posted by Ben Tedore

April 12th, 2016, 02:43:53 PM
Posted in NSBDC Services, SBA | No Comments »

click to download
Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 2.42.24 PM

The Nevada SBDC, celebrating its 30-year anniversary in 2015, is your first call to grow your business.

Through its 15-office statewide network, this economic and community development collaborative is one of a national network of over 1,000 centers, funded by the U.S. SBA and leveraged with community partners and educational institutions, including the University of Nevada, Reno and University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Nevada SBDC guides and assists Nevadans looking to start and grow businesses, with objectives to increase business starts, create and retain jobs, and increase access to capital. One-on-one counseling services are free and confidential. Nevada SBDC also offers and coordinates a wide range of workshops and courses in collaboration with public and private entities.

Nevada Grow Pilot Project

Posted by Ben Tedore

March 16th, 2016, 04:22:49 PM
Posted in NSBDC Services, Raising Capital | No Comments »

Nevada Grow Pilot Project

The Nevada Grow Pilot Project was created in 2015 by the Nevada legislature as an economic development program focused on assisting second-growth companies prosper in the state of Nevada. By providing strategic data, mentoring, support and resources at no cost to companies for next level growth, the Nevada Grow pilot project will assist 10 companies in overcoming obstacles they face and lead them towards successful growth.

View or Download the Nevada Grow Flyer

Nevada Grow Stakeholders

For more information, please email or visit any Las Vegas Urban Chamber, Las Vegas Latin Chamber or Nevada Small Business Development Center.

UNR Business: 5 steps to developing your brand

Posted by amaher

February 4th, 2016, 02:21:11 PM
Posted in Advertising, Communications, Marketing, NSBDC Services, Uncategorized | No Comments »



  1. Choose your brand: Take time to think about what your business is about and the image you want to convey to the outside world. Discuss this with key stakeholders to get multiple perspectives. Their input can be some of the most important.
  2. Create a message: Design a logo that fits the brand you have chosen; it will be the visual representation of your brand. Also, create a branding statement that can accompany your logo, which is what you want the public to remember about you and/or your business. Both should be timeless to limit the need to update.
  3. Send it out: Put the logo and tagline on your business cards, website, flyers, social media accounts and other communications. This helps to create consistency in what consumers and customers see.
  4. Stick with it: Let the brand take hold and become part of the community. The goal is to have individuals think about your logo and/or tagline whenever hearing your business’s name or if they are in the market for your product or service.
  5. Live it: Owners should ensure they are living the values of the business as owners and their business are inseparably linked.

To help local businesses in branding their business, the Nevada SBDC is hosting a training session on “Branding your Nevada Based Product/Service.” The speaker for this event is Bret Simmons, associate professor in the University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Business. In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate students, Simmons is also the producer for TEDxUniversityofNevada, which was attended by over 1,200 people in January. He has regular speaking engagements on topics including branding, leadership, organizational behavior, entrepreneurship, social business and management.

The specific focus for this event will be to help business owners understand how to successfully brand their business and how that relates to greater sales and profitability. This will be accomplished through defining how owners can self-direct their success through learning new and improved, innovative entrepreneurial branding practices.

For more information about this session, please visit the NSBDC website at

Josh Green is an MBA candidate an a business development adviser at the Nevada Small Business Development Center.

What is in store for our local economy in 2016?

Posted by Ben Tedore

January 28th, 2016, 01:05:30 PM
Posted in Business Conditions, Economic Development | No Comments »

While several entities provide an outlook for their respective sectors, little information exists as to the outlook for the regional economy as a whole.  What is the big picture of an increase in taxable sales, gaming revenue, home sales, etc.?  How does it compare to historical trends and what does it tell us about the future?

Individual economic indicators such as taxable sales and gaming revenue levels are useful in understanding changes occurring in each industry, but they do not provide a picture of the overall economy and its changes over time.  An economic index, which combines multiple indicators into a single number, can represent either the current state of the economy (coincident index) or future economic changes (leading index).  An economic index simplifies and clarifies economic activity while providing backward and forward trends.

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 12.06.59 PMEkay Economic Consultants, Inc., in cooperation with the Center for Regional Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno, is pleased to announce the release of its Leading Economic Index and Coincident Economic Index for the Reno MSA area.  The indices are referred to as RLI and RCI, respectively, and together create the monthly Reno Economic Dynamics (RED) Report.

The RLI and RCI are based on latest local, regional and national data with the purpose of providing a picture of our existing economy and its projected movement over the next six to twelve months.  Latest results of the two indices are summarized below, along with a graph of their historic changes.  For more details about index indicators, values, and methodology, please see the full report, which can be found at

-Reno MSA Leading Index (RLI) increased between September and October 2015 (0.48%), indicating expected growth in the regional economy over the next 6-12 months.  This is the 41st consecutive increase in the index since May 2012.

-Reno MSA Coincident Index (RCI) increased between October and November 2015 (0.24%), (most recent data), verifying that the current economy continues to expand.

“The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife.”

Posted by Brenda Do,

June 15th, 2015, 11:28:02 AM
Posted in Advertising, Business Start-Up, Communications, Education, Marketing, Uncategorized | No Comments »

“The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife.”


That’s a quote from one of the most brilliant ad men of the 20th century, David Ogilvy. His ads generated a crazy waterfall of cash for his clients.

The man knew how to sell because he understood people.

Ogilvy started off as a door-to-door salesman, made his name as a copywriter, then created one of the most successful ad agencies worldwide, Ogilvy & Mather.

And he saw – which we’re still guilty of doing today – how companies keep losing sales because our ads and other marketing material treat our customers like morons.

But most of us aren’t doing it on purpose, we’re just following bad advice.

Let’s see how you rank against the 3 most common ways our marketing treats customers like morons…

Mistake #1: Because I said so!
Let’s say you’re single and sitting at a bar when someone walks up to you saying, “Hey, I’m the best thing that ever happened to you. Marry me.”

Would you do it?

This seems like an exaggerated example, but many websites, emails, and ads are written in a way that does just that. Look at emails, mailers, and ads that cross your desk daily. You’ll basically see these messages:
  • I’m wonderful. Buy me.
  • I need your vote. Support me.
  • I’m a great deal. Get me.

In other words, I’m the best thing that ever happened to you. Marry me.

Much like looking for a spouse, your consumers want to know you’re the right fit. They want proof you’ll answer their deepest needs. They want assurance they won’t regret their decision.

So how do you do that? Show them, don’t tell them. Here are a few examples:

Telling: We offer the best customer service.

Showing: 24/7 support.  Lifetime guarantee on all parts.

Telling: We focus on quality.

Showing: All seams are triple stitched and reinforced with steel rivets at common stress points to prevent sagging or ripping. Even after years of use.

Show how you’re wonderful. Don’t just tell them you are. Your customers aren’t sitting around waiting to be told what to think.

And remember to focus on them. The WIFFM (what’s in it for me). How are you going to make their life better? Why should they care?

Ok, let’s move on…

Mistake #2: Babies, boobs, and beagles

Some marketers think some products are so boring or common, they need to jazz it up to sell it. So they slap on a picture of a baby, a sexy woman, or a dog for attention.

While babies, boobs, and beagles can make us look (hey, we’re human), they don’t necessarily increase sales.

For instance, if you’re a new parent looking for bigger car, would you choose a car based on the cute puppy in the ad? Or on the car’s safety features?

You make a sale when you address what your customers want to hear. Don’t take shortcuts by relying on cheap tricks.

For fun, flip through magazine ads for products that could interest you. See how many big agency ads you gloss over because they don’t answer your needs. They spent a lot of money missing mark. But you don’t have to make that same mistake.

Mistake #3: Entertain verses educate

No one wants to read boring copy. On websites, brochures, mailers…your customers don’t have time to search for the point. But many marketers focus so much on capturing the customer’s attention, they forget the copy’s purpose: to make a sale or conversion.

Do you remember the Taco Bell Chihuahua from the late 1990’s ads? The dog was extremely popular, Taco Bell sold lots of Chihuahua bobble heads, t-shirts, and other licensed goods. But funny thing…that dog didn’t sell any tacos.

Why not?

Because when you think about your lunch, do you want to eat what your dog eats? Do you ask Fido for mealtime recommendations?

The ads were so focused on entertaining, they forgot the ad’s purpose was to increase food sales.

Making it worse, when they dropped the Chihuahua campaign, rumors spread. People gossiped the dog died. Some claimed it was being served in the tacos.

All this negative press allegedly caused a 6% drop in sales. One fact for sure, Taco Bell’s president lost his job.

When you’re tempted to be clever or entertaining, remember what you’re selling and who you’re selling it to. If you’re too close to the copy, try replacing your company or product name with your competitor’s. Then read it again to see if you’d buy it.

Even better, give your copy to a prospect to read. Someone who doesn’t know you from a can of paint.  Were you convincing?

To avoid treating your consumers like morons, be clear, not clever. Give them what they need to make confident decisions.

But don’t get me wrong, you can still be funny. For an example showing copy can be very entertaining and also sell like crazy, check out:  These guys nailed it.


Want more smart (and free) copywriting tips?  Visit: for a library of tips. And to receive them directly in your inbox.



Small businesses indicative of the state’s recovering economy

Posted by Ben Tedore

April 9th, 2015, 09:37:38 AM
Posted in Business Conditions, Business Start-Up, Economic Development, NSBDC Services | No Comments »

via Nevada Today by Nicole Shearer

Small businesses in Nevada were a big deal in 2014. The Nevada Small Business Development Center, a statewide resource for business assistance and headquartered in the University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Business, helped open 136 new small businesses in the state last year.

The Nevada SBDC offers Nevada small businesses unique information sources to better evaluate and plan entrepreneurship endeavors.

The Nevada SBDC offers Nevada small businesses unique information sources to better evaluate and plan entrepreneurship endeavors.

“It’s easy to forget the impact small businesses can have, especially with the growing focus on many big-named businesses in the state,” Sam Males, director of the Nevada SBDC, said. “These smaller businesses created 470 jobs and $18 million in new financing, clearly making a marked impact.”

According to Males, 62 percent of new jobs are created by small businesses nationally. In Nevada, 98 percent of businesses are considered small businesses, with less than 100 employees, and further, 70 percent of Nevada’s businesses employee under 10 employees.

The Nevada SBDC, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month, has become the state’s go-to resource for small business owners, with 13 locations statewide. From those just starting out to those looking to grow and develop their business, it provides a wide-range of services, expertise and training in all areas of business. Additionally, partnerships throughout the state allow the Nevada SBDC to serve a diverse group of individuals and offer outreach programs in several communities.

“Our mission is to promote and facilitate sustainable economic prosperity across Nevada through business and community development,” Males, who has been with the Nevada SBDC since its inception 30 years ago, said. “The programs we offer not only continue to evolve with the changing economic landscape of the state, but they also continue to cater to Nevada’s changing demographic population.”

The Nevada SBDC works to utilize the unique resources of the University including students, faculty and information sources to better educate both small businesses and students.

“Our business model differentiates the Nevada SBDC from the private sector and from the other ‘foot-in-the-door’ organizations like chambers of commerce, economic development authorities and community colleges,” Winnie Dowling, Nevada SBDC deputy director, said. “Our goal has never been to compete with these organizations but rather to partner with them and act as a resource and referral network.”

At the center of the Nevada SBDC’s model are the University’s students. Graduate and undergraduate students provide co-counseling, market research and help develop marketing and business plans for clients. They also act as an additional sounding board for clients.

“The internships here allow students to see firsthand what it means to operate a successful business,” Dowling said. “It’s a really different experience. These aren’t case studies, they are actual businesses willing to implement their ideas and suggestions. In turn, students provide businesses with valuable knowledge and education. They offer insight into how best to reach younger demographics and they teach businesses about how to reach people via technology.”

Melissa Molyneaux, managing director and vice president of Colliers International was a student intern at the Nevada SBDC during her final years at the University.

“Looking back, as a business major, it was an outstanding opportunity that prepared me for the ‘real’ business world and my current career as a commercial real estate broker with Colliers,” Molyneaux said. “While academics are extremely important, I learn best from hands on experiences and trial and error, which is exactly what the NSBDC gave to me. During my time as an intern, Rod allowed me to do so much including business plan writing, financial analysis, SBA lending options, logo design, real estate leasing and business services and product marketing. In addition to the ‘fun’ stuff, he taught me how to research, manage my time, and set expectations for clients. I cannot think of a better opportunity for a college student to get to work on real-world business issues than an internship at Nevada SBDC.”

The Nevada SBDC offers a wide-variety of resources which include education and training through one-on-one consulting in addition to programs like NxLeveL Entrepreneur Training, an intensive multi-session program delivering the knowledge needed to launch a new business or expand an existing one. The NxLeveL program was established in 2000 and has seen more than 4,000 businesses go through the program. Sandra Rentas, a business development advisor at the Nevada SBDC, was the first to offer the NxLeveL course taught entirely in Spanish – a first of any SBDC in the country.

Jesus Anguiano, owner of Westside Café & Coffee Company in northwest Reno, took one of Rentas’s NxLeveL training courses.

“Being from another country, I didn’t even know the resources I learned about in this course exist, even after being in business for 16 years,” Anguiano said. “Interns came to look at the restaurant and suggested changes to signage, our menu board, promotion through social media and even offered ideas for interior design. Social media really helped to increase the traffic to the restaurant. I’m also in the process of changing the legal structure of the business and greatly benefited from learning about the importance of having a will, trust and exit plan as a business owner.”
Unique to the Nevada SBDC are two programs; the Business Environmental Program and the Center for Regional Studies.

The Business Environmental Program, which started in 1988, provides free and confidential environmental management assistance to business and government operations in Nevada. Funded by the State Division of Environmental Protection, the program functions as a neutral third party for businesses to turn to for help in developing effective strategies to reduce hazardous materials and waste generation, conserve water and energy, minimize air emissions, and maintain compliance with environmental requirements. The program provides training, on-site consultation, assistance over the phone and through its website and publications.

The Center for Regional Studies is a service both large and small Nevada businesses turn to for data and market analyses. These analyses allow businesses to best select a location for operations, understand current market trends and predict where the local economy is headed. Most of the center’s work is done on a custom basis, designed to fit each client’s needs.

“Most of the businesses I work with are bread and butter businesses,” Rod Jorgensen, director of counseling for the Nevada SBDC said. “As I work with these businesses we will use the Center for Regional Studies to access data that allows us to interpolate it and confidently build a budget for a new enterprise or to determine the gross sales for that kind of business in the state.”

Jorgensen has worked with numerous small business owners including Gino Scala, more commonly known in the community as “GinoTheSoupMan,” co-owner of Great Full Gardens Café & Eatery and Great Full Gardens Express at the University.

“Working with the Nevada SBDC has been fantastic,” Scala said. “As a business owner it’s a challenge to know that the information you are getting is accurate. There is a level of confidence with the SBDC. We’ve gone from a couple hundred thousand in sales to $2.3 million and I feel like the SBDC played an integral part in that.”

For Males and many others at the Nevada SBDC, it’s important to remember that not all small businesses are tech startups with white boards and mobile devices working in the latest incubator space.

“The people who come through our doors are those who want to be self-employed and want to make a smart, successful living in a business of their own design,” Males said. “Small businesses are the backbone of this country and we’re honored to help people throughout the state wanting to give it a shot.”

The Nevada SBDC program is a partnership program between the U.S. Small Business Administration and the University of Nevada, Reno. Funding is provided by SBA with matching funds from the University and other statewide partners including many cities and counties in which they provide services. For more information about the Nevada SBDC, including a complete list of services, visit or call 800-240-7094. Resources are available in English and in Spanish. Visit for a list of offices throughout the state.

Ten IRS Tips to Help You Choose a Tax Preparer

Posted by Ben Tedore

January 28th, 2015, 12:28:27 PM
Posted in Taxes, Uncategorized | No Comments »


Many people pay to have their taxes prepared. You need to be careful when you pick a preparer to do your taxes. You are legally responsible for all the information on the tax return even if someone else prepares it. Here are 10 IRS tax tips to help you choose
a tax preparer:

1. Check the preparer’s qualifications.  All paid tax preparers are required to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number or PTIN. The IRS will soon offer a new Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications
on You will be able to use this tool to help you find a tax return preparer with the qualifications that you prefer. The Directory will be a searchable and sortable listing of certain preparers with a valid PTIN for 2015. It will include the name,
city, state and zip code of:

  • Attorneys.
  • CPAs.
  • Enrolled Agents.
  • Enrolled Retirement Plan Agents.
  • Enrolled Actuaries.
  • Annual Filing Season Program participants.

2. Check the preparer’s history.  You can check with the Better Business Bureau to find out if a preparer has a questionable history. Check for disciplinary actions and the license status for credentialed preparers. For CPAs, check with
the State Board of Accountancy. For attorneys, check with the State Bar Association. For Enrolled Agents, go to and search for “verify
enrolled agent status.

3. Ask about service fees.  Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund or those who say they can get larger refunds than others can. Always make sure any refund due is sent to you or deposited into your bank account.
You should not have your refund deposited into a preparer’s bank account.

4. Ask to e-file your return.  Make sure your preparer offers IRS e-file. Any paid preparer who prepares and files more than 10 returns generally must e-file their clients’ returns. The IRS has safely processed more than 1.3 billion e-filed
tax returns.

5. Make sure the preparer is available.  You need to ensure that you can contact the tax preparer after you file your return. That’s true even after the April 15 due date. You may need to contact the preparer if questions come up about your
tax return at a later time.

6. Provide tax records.  A good preparer will ask to see your records and receipts. They ask you questions to report your total income and the tax benefits you’re entitled to claim. These may include tax deductions, tax credits and other
items. Do not use a preparer who is willing to e-file your return using your last pay stub instead of your Form W-2. This is against IRS e-file rules.

7. Never sign a blank tax return.  Do not use a tax preparer who asks you to sign a blank tax form.

8. Review your return before signing.  Before you sign your tax return, review it thoroughly. Ask questions if something is not clear to you. Make sure you’re comfortable with the information on the return before you sign it.

9. Preparer must sign and include their PTIN.  Paid preparers must sign returns and include their PTIN as required by law. The preparer must also give you a copy of the return.

10. Report abusive tax preparers to the IRS.  You can report abusive tax preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS. Use

Form 14157
, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If you suspect a return preparer filed or changed the return without your consent, you should also file

Form 14157-A
, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit. You can download and print these forms on If you need a paper form by mail go to
to place an order.

If you found this Tax Tip helpful, please share it through your social media platforms. A great way to get tax information is to use

IRS Social Media
. You can also subscribe to
IRS Tax Tips
or any of our
e-news subscriptions

Additional IRS Resources:

Why many customer testimonials are worthless

Posted by Brenda Do,

November 23rd, 2014, 05:27:43 PM
Posted in Advertising, E-Commerce, Marketing | No Comments »

Why many customer testimonials are worthless

A lot of us think if a customer says something nice about you, you should use their testimonial in your marketing, right?

Not quite.

I’ve seen lots of “nice” testimonials actually lower a company’s credibility. Or at the very least, increase a prospect’s skepticism. That’s because…

Testimonials are like Twinkies

Ok, stick with me here and it’ll soon make sense.

As a food source, Twinkies are what I call hole pluggers. You’ve got a hungry part of your tummy, the Twinkie helps you feel better by filling that hole for a bit, but it doesn’t provide the nutrition needed for you to thrive. So Twinkies don’t add any value to your health.

Likewise, sweet/nice testimonials do the same thing for your business. They fill an empty spot on your website or brochure, but they don’t add any value to your overall sales.

To understand this better, how many times have you read wimpy testimonials like these?

I found XYZ very helpful and informative. I highly recommend XYZ to anyone.
XYZ is so nice to work with. They always answer my questions quickly. They’re great!
XYZ is very professional and delivered on time. They exceeded my expectations.

Ok, be honest here…do any of those testimonials make you want to stop what you’re doing and give them a call?

That’s because those testimonials are so generic and fluffy, they don’t tell your prospect anything helpful.

Just like you, your prospects are wisely skeptical. Before they commit time to talking with you, they want to feel there’s a high chance you’ll be able to help them. Assuming your website and sales material are all written well, your testimonials’ job is to push your hesitant prospects over the edge, so they get off that fence and contact you.

In order to do that, your testimonials must do two things:

1. Enhance your credibility

2. Positively address their objections/concerns

Fluff won’t do that for you.

How to know which testimonials help or hurt your sale

A quality testimonial addresses common objections or concerns your prospects have rolling around in their heads. When people see them, it puts them at ease and encourages them to call.

To illustrate, let’s say you’re a back surgeon. You know your prospects are in desperate pain, but they’re still hesitant to go to you for several reasons. This includes: cost of the surgery, success rate, how long they’ll be off work, etc.

Ideally, you want to get quality testimonials where each addresses one of those concerns.

For instance, let’s say many prospects worry they can’t afford the surgery. When they go through your website, they see this testimonial:

“I love Dr. Jones. She’s really good and her staff made me feel comfortable answering my questions and helping me feel relaxed.”

Nice…but that’s probably not going to encourage a cost-conscious prospect to call you. But what if that same prospect saw this on your site?…

“Thanks so much for working out a payment plan that fit my tight budget. I’m feeling so good, I’m working full-time again. And it’s such a relief not to be weighed down by medical bills. Thank you so much for helping me make this difficult time easier than I imagined.”

If you’re worried about affording the surgery, which testimonial will convince you to call Dr. Jones?

Yep, the second one. Because it addressed your objection/concern/worry.

The easiest way to get the right testimonials

Here’s how you figure out what kind of testimonials you want your customers to write:

1. List the objections/concerns
List all of the objections, fears, or concerns prospects have about buying from you, or calling you to find out more. List everything you can think of. Narrow it down to 3-5 of the biggest and most common concerns. These are the ones to focus on in step 2.

2. Send a testimonial template
To get more testimonials, and make sure they’re talking about what you need, send them an email template. Ask topic-specific, open-ended questions about their experience with you. It’s a lot easier and faster for your busy customers to answer questions than come up with a paragraph on their own.

NOTE: Be sure the email includes a brief waiver allowing you to use their answers in your marketing material.

Bonus tip: time the concern

For added impact, here’s another tip from the brain trust at place testimonials in relevant parts of your marketing material. For instance, if you sell online and want to lower the number of people who abandon their carts, then place a testimonial about the easy checkout right where people start the checkout process.

Want to see the testimonial request template I use personally? Just ask and I’ll forward it to you right away:


Brenda Do is a freelance, direct-response copywriter in Reno, NV and President of BL Copywriting, LLC. Contact her at: or





NxLeveL Hispanic Graduation, Las Vegas

Posted by Ben Tedore

January 29th, 2014, 02:35:59 PM
Posted in Education | No Comments »

NxLeveL for Entrepreneurs (also known as the “Existing Business Course”) is a 13-week, 40-hour course that gives entrepreneurs the professional knowledge and management skills they need to grow an existing business. Participants will learn to identify feasible opportunities for profitable and sustainable growth, and bring them to fruition by preparing a comprehensive business plan based on proven market research, financial management and project management.

Topics taught include:

  • Introduction, Overview and Entrepreneurship
  • Planning and Research: Entrepreneurial Essentials
  • Planning and Research: Entrepreneurial Essentials: Business Research
  • Organizational Matters: Management and Legal Structure
  • Marketing: Analysis and Understanding
  • Marketing: Strategies, Tactics and Implementation
  • Financial Overview: Books, Records & Controls
  • Managing Your Money: Financial Planning and Budgets
  • Managing Your Money: Developing and Using Cash Flow Projections
  • Managing Your Money: Understanding and Using Your Financial Statements
  • Financing Your Business: Sources of Money
  • Green Business Opportunities: Environmental Solutions
  • Your Business Future: Negotiating, Managing Growth and Plan Completion

Learn more about NxLeveL Nevada HERE

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