‘The Men Have Been Flying Around Me Like Honeybees!’

Part of our job as copywriters is to advise our clients on what not to do. Don’t make the subject line for that email so long. Don’t make users hit the Scroll Down button eight times to reach the bottom of that Web page. And one of my personal favorites: Don’t include anonymous testimonials in your collateral.

When it comes to cited testimonials, I’m 100% on-board. Seeing a quote from a named source (ideally, someone at a well-known company) is a great way to add credibility. Hell, we do it on our own website.

Dr. Winnifred Cutler

But what’s the use of a dazzling quote attributed to … some guy named Gene who lives in Texas? Or Jan from Arizona?

This was my first thought upon scanning a print ad for Athena Pheromones. Sure, the product was developed by Dr. Winnifred Cutler, the self-proclaimed “co-discoverer of human pheromones.” (Little known fact: She collaborated with the late Bea Arthur on the research.) But I can’t help but be skeptical about the pheromones’ efficacy given the vagueness of the quote attributions.

In all seriousness, clients often ask me about using customer testimonials cloaked in some level of anonymity. My advice is this: If you’re doing business-to-business, make sure you can include the customer’s name, title and company whenever possible. Business-to-consumer? A first and last name along with city/state usually will do the trick.

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