Episode 260

Selling with Testimonials with Eman Ismail

June 8, 2021

As a creative entrepreneur or small business owner, making the sale can be the most intimidating part of the job. But with one addition to your process, it can be a whole lot easier. That addition is client testimonials. In this episode, Eman Ismail from InkHouse joins us to talk about the power of business testimonials; from how to ask for review from clients, to how to use testimonial marketing, and how testimonials can help you understand your customer and business better.

Learn More about the Topics Discussed in this Episode
This Episode Brought to You By:
"The goal for gathering testimonial is to repel the wrong people and to attract the right customers that are aligned to your business."
- Eman Ismail

Discussed in this Episode

  • Eman's journey to becoming a small business owner and taking control of her life
  • The critical mindset shift to get comfortable with selling your services or product
  • Why testimonial marketing is such a powerful tool for selling
  • The not so obvious business benefit testimonials provide
  • How to get testimonials that help sell what you do
  • How to use testimonials in your marketing strategy


More from Eman Ismail

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.


Emily Thompson: what if there was a missing part of your process for creating your next thing for marketing it, for selling it, that if you were to just set aside the time and do the work would make it easier for you to make sure that what you're creating marketing and selling were more likely to hit the Mark.

[00:00:30] Welcome to being boss, a podcast for creatives, business owners and entrepreneurs who want to take control of their work and live life on their own terms. I'm your host, Emily Thompson. And today I want to talk about that thing, that part of the process that I know too few business owners are putting the time and energy into that.

[00:00:49] If they were to just do it would take so much of the guesswork that leaves us feeling hesitant to commit, to launch and share. That thing is gathering testimonials and feedback for the purpose of knowing your customer for understanding how they benefit from that thing that you're offering. And how do use all of that to relate to your future customers in a way that makes it easier for them to say yes to explore this topic.

[00:01:17] I invited him on his mail for a chat. Amman is the person to call when you want to make more money from your emails as an email conversion, strategist and copywriter, and the founder of InkHouse. She helps six plus figure business owners and e-commerce brands of fire up their conversions, evergreen, their sells and turn fans into super fans.

[00:01:40] She's worked with powerhouses like Joanna Wiebe from copy hackers, Belinda Weaver, from the hot copy podcast, interact the quiz platform and hold regular copywriting workshops in partnership with Lloyd's business bank. She's even worked with me here at being boss.

[00:02:00] There's a good chance that you, as a podcast, listener are aware of how much the podcast industry has grown with literally millions of podcasts available. It can be hard to find true great content that's worth your precious time. But podcast networks make that easier. In particular, I'm talking HubSpot as they aim to provide more value and educational materials to customers, prospects, and fans, by expanding their audio offerings.

[00:02:27] With top business podcasts, like being boss, the HubSpot podcast network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business. Each podcast offers expertise related to one build marketing sales, service operations. Yet together, this collection covers the scope and mastery.

[00:02:51] Every company needs to find success. Listen, learn and grow with the HubSpot podcast network at hubspot.com/podcast network.

[00:03:05] Hi Amman. Welcome to being boss. 

[00:03:08] Eman Ismail: Hey Emily. Thank you so much for having me. I'm so happy to be here. 

[00:03:13] Emily Thompson: It is my pleasure. I have been wanting to have you on the show for a hot minute and a, I knew there was going to be the perfect spot for you coming up. And as I was working through some, some content planning, I saw it and I was like, it's time for a mine.

[00:03:28] Eman Ismail: Love it. Love it. Can I just say for anyone who's listening, I have been listening to this show the so long since before I started my business and I remember always thinking, Oh, how amazing would it be to be a gas on? I just never, ever, ever thought that I would ever be here. So if anyone is listening to this thinking, I could never do this.

[00:03:49] Please note it is possible. It really is. I was, I was in that position just a few years ago. Oh, 

[00:03:56] Emily Thompson: thank you for sharing that. And I will say this is very similar to the conversation that I have with Mary Williams, a couple of episodes ago, where she shared something very similar. And the thing is, is that, do you, you also show up, right?

[00:04:08] You show up, you put yourself in the places where people can learn about what it is that you do. I've had the pleasure of working with you. I, you are a part of the community. I miss seeing your face and all of the Monday meet ups, but I know that time zones are, um, have shifted a lot for you. But, um, but I've gotten to know you because you show up in our sphere and I'm, I'm delighted to share with everyone what it is that you do.

[00:04:36] Oh, thank 

[00:04:36] Eman Ismail: you. I appreciate that. 

[00:04:38] Emily Thompson: Let's get started cause I'm super excited to dive in on a couple of things with you, but I want to get started the way we start all introductions here at being boss. And that is having you share with us your entrepreneurial journey. How did you get to where you are today?

[00:04:54] Eman Ismail: Okay. So as I'm sure everyone says this, it was a long winding road, but I started off working in a charity. So I was managing the communications department for a charity and I was doing loads of things like, um, copywriting. I was managing the social media, even though I hated that part of the job. Um, it was part of that rules.

[00:05:14] I had to do it. I was creating the videos, um, on the script and all sorts. And it was, it was good. I, you know, I enjoyed most of it. I was probably doing the job of about three different people, to be honest. Um, but it was, it was a great intro into what came next. So the thing with this job was it didn't pay me very well.

[00:05:36] And I was working evenings and weekends, and it was the type of job where you were expected to always be on a call, basically, which is crazy. Cause I'm not a doctor, but, okay. So, I mean, I you'd get messages at like, you know, two o'clock in the morning, in the morning, early hours of the morning, uh, late, really late at night.

[00:05:55] It didn't matter. Like whenever someone needed you a thought something like they would send you a message to your phone. And it was, it was a lot. Um, and then on top of, so it was like, you know, the culture didn't fit. Right. It wasn't right for me because it, that was fine for a lot of people who were there.

[00:06:10] Um, but it just wasn't okay with me. So I, I could sense that this wasn't gonna work out. And then on top of that, I was commuting to that job. So every morning I would wake up at about. Five o'clock on a good day and, um, take my then two year old son to nursery and then head over, um, to the motorway way or highway for Americans.

[00:06:35] And it would take me about an hour, an hour and a half to get to work. And that was just one way I'd be driving. And then the other way it'd be about an hour. So by the time I got home, it would be like 8:00 PM, eight in the evening. I had a childminder who would pick up my son from nursery and I'd get into my house every night.

[00:06:54] And, um, he would be asleep on the couch and I'd always rush home because I wanted to get home before he fell asleep. Um, but he'd always be asleep on the couch because he'd read, he'd refuse to go to bed without me. And he was doing his best to, to stay up and wait for me to, and it was really devastating.

[00:07:11] I was still breastfeeding as well back then. And so. I just, the whole thing was just really emotional on upsetting on. I really felt depressed. And, um, it took, it took one of my colleagues at my job to actually say, um, so I must've complained one day and then she complained about me complaining and then it was quite, yeah, yeah, it was, it was a lot and it was quite deep what she said, but I took a moment and I reflected instead of getting defensive, which I would usually do, but I reflected and I realized she was right.

[00:07:48] I was complaining a lot and that wasn't. Who I was, and I'd kind of lost sense of who I was. I was so unhappy, um, really was depressed. And I just thought, I can't do this anymore. Um, I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want to be this person anymore, who just complains all the time and who just hates life.

[00:08:05] Right. Um, so I spoke to my manager and I asked him if I could work from home and to get a pay rise. So we said, yes, but not now. So the pay rise, which wasn't good enough for me. Um, I actually asked him for a specific figure too, when he said, um, you said, you know, yeah. Okay. And I asked if I could work from home more.

[00:08:26] And the answer to that was no as well. So I resigned. Um, I had a month's notice to work. I worked at, I had no backup job, no savings. Um, no idea how this business thing was going to work. I just knew that I'd always wanted to set up a copywriting business and that it really felt like it's now or never like this is the time to do it, or it's never going to happen.

[00:08:50] Um, so I did it. I left on a Friday, a couple of hours later, actually. Um, the manager sent me a text asking if you could hire me as a freelancer. Um, so they found my replacement. So I actually ended up working for that company for a little longer and they paid me a whole lot more as a freelancer. And, um, so I left on the Friday and by the Monday I had, um, another client on top of that.

[00:09:14] Company. Um, and then by the end of that week, I had a few inquiries and then it just kind of spiraled from there. And, um, eventually, I mean, I was a general copywriter. I kind of did a bit of everything. Uh, but now I, um, I specialized, so I'm now an email conversion, strategist and copywriter, which basically means I make lots of money for business owners, um, through emails.

[00:09:36] So I write a great emails. I'm not just make money, but also, um, you know, nurture and create relationships with that ideal audience and mine. 

[00:09:44] Emily Thompson: I can't imagine you not being your happy-go-lucky self. This is like I'm a little mind blown by who that 

[00:09:52] Eman Ismail: person would be. Right. I really felt like that. I was just like, this is.

[00:09:58] This is not me. Like what she said really hurt my feelings, but I could see us. She was totally right. And I, I really am like a bubbly person and I just lost all of it. Like it was gone. I was so exhausted all, all the time and I just missed my son and I wasn't able to be the mom that I wanted to be for him.

[00:10:17] And I just remember thinking I took this job so that I could create a better life for him and me. And, um, and I don't even see him anymore. It was awful. And so. I felt like I needed to take control of my schedule, my life, my time, so that I could be that moment. And, um, everything changed. I, you know, was able to pick myself up from nursery every day.

[00:10:41] Um, I could, you know, go into his nursery and, and be the parent that volunteers to read stories in the middle of the day or take or go to the app, you know, farm trip with them. And it's funny because all that stuff my son completely takes for granted because he thinks that's entirely normal. It's normal to just have a moment who's always there.

[00:10:59] It can be there at any time. Right. And I'm so happy that he has that kind of naivety and doesn't know anything else. Yeah. But it took a long time to get here. 

[00:11:08] Emily Thompson: Oh. But it's amazing. I had no idea of any of this. So thank you so much for sharing this, this bit of your journey with us because. I think what you are sharing is sadly not unusual, right?

[00:11:24] We so many, so many people who find themselves probably listening to this podcast, right. Took the leap for very similar reasons. And same for me. I wanted to be at home with my kid. That was the priority that I was putting above a traditional nine to five or five to nine. 

[00:11:45] Eman Ismail: Sounds like it's 

[00:11:46] Emily Thompson: kind of what, what you had.

[00:11:49] And, but I find that so many people like will stay in those positions. Whereas you gain the awareness that you needed, you sort of re put up these boundaries that were your non-negotiables and you took an insanely scary leap, but landed on your feet. 

[00:12:09] Eman Ismail: Yeah. I mean, when I look back, I remember being terrified.

[00:12:12] I was so scared, but also really excited because I finally felt like I could take control of my life. I remember when, when, when my son would be sick and he was sick often because he was just catching everything that goes around, you know, nurseries and things. Um, and then passing them on to me. So then we'd both be sick.

[00:12:33] Um, I remember, you know, contacting the people at work that you have to contact to, you know, get permission to take them on and off so that I could take him to the doctors. And I just, I remember thinking I am a grownup. I am a parent and my son and my son needs to go to the doctors. I don't understand why I have to ask them on full commission, but that is just life when you work for someone else.

[00:12:58] So I realized pretty quickly, well then I need to stop working for someone else because this is not for me. That's amazing. 

[00:13:05] Emily Thompson: Oh, thank you for sharing that. I hope that any boss who finds themselves in that situation can pull some inspiration from your story, for sure. But I do want to get into this sales piece.

[00:13:20] Cause you mentioned you help businesses make a lot of money through email. You're an email conversion strategist. Did I say that right? 

[00:13:27] Eman Ismail: Did you look the first person to ever say it correctly? 

[00:13:32] Emily Thompson: I've definitely said it incorrectly before email conversion strategist. Um, I've had the pleasure of working with you to build out some being boss.

[00:13:42] Email flows. And so I've seen a little about what your, what your process is and you make it look so easy basically. And I know as creatives sells can be scary. And I know also, as you know, bosses sometimes sells flows, sell, sells, emails, flows. Let me try that one again, sells email flows. There we go. Can be incredibly.

[00:14:12] What's the word I'm looking for? Intimidating. I think so. That's really, what I want to talk with you about today is, is how it is that you have. How it is that you embrace this process and use it as your skillset for helping businesses make more money in their, in their businesses. So I want to start out with sales and mindset because I feel like that's usually the first hurdle that especially creatives need to need to smash through basically.

[00:14:47] Um, and I'm wondering from you, what, what mindset shifts in particular do you think that bosses need to make in order to get comfortable selling what it is that they do? I mean, in extra points, if you have some funny, like client stories, 

[00:15:04] Eman Ismail: give us some good dish. I will try and think of some, but I mean, the first thing I want to say is that I am, I am really lucky because I'm in a role where every, all the skills that I know and all the skills that I'm constantly learning, the things that I can use, not just for my clients.

[00:15:22] Um, on the emails I write for them, but also for me and my business and the emails I write for myself and, you know, even the wet, I'm not a website copywriter anymore, but even the, you know, the website that I write for myself. And so it's, it's amazing because everything I learned I can apply to, to me and my business.

[00:15:38] So that's a great advantage. Firstly. Um, secondly, in terms of sales and mindset, I think the biggest thing is obviously we're often scared to sell on the thing with sales emails is that they're all about the sell. So you can't be afraid to sell. And I think the key to. Becoming comfortable with that style is actually to stop thinking about it as a sell, instead of thinking about it as a sales process, or even you just, you know, asking people to buy your thing or to, you know, give you money.

[00:16:12] Cause I think that's how we think about it. We think, Oh, you know, I can't ask someone to give me money or it feels like I'm begging this person to buy for me. Well, it's not at all. It's actually you giving someone the opportunity to work with you or to benefit from what it is that you do, whether it, whether that's, you know, you're selling a product or a service.

[00:16:36] And the thing is, is if you make that switch and I know that we all can, because none of us would be doing the thing that we do. If we didn't truly believe that it helps people, that it can improve the lives or businesses or make them happier in some way or make their life easier in some way. So we all believe that we have something valuable to give.

[00:16:55] If you start thinking about, you know, I'm making this sale or I'm trying to make the sale and think about it as well. I have something amazing to offer and I want to give this person the opportunity. To benefit from this, that changes everything. Um, no matter what you do, no matter what industry or business you're in, it changes everything.

[00:17:18] And I even, I still struggle with this. Um, I don't do anything other than email anymore, so I only work on email, but I had an old bogging workshop that I, that is still on my website. And I was looking at it yesterday morning and thinking, yeah, I just need to take that down because it doesn't make any sense anymore for what I do, but I created it.

[00:17:37] So I didn't want to take it down initially. And I was like, okay, you've got to let go of the blogging workshop. Um, and then I had this thought where I thought, well, well, what if I like do a quick flash sale? I mean, that's, I've never done anything like that before. I do not believe in discounts. I do not believe in, um, in, in sales for certainly for services and even for e-commerce businesses, which I also work with a lot.

[00:18:01] I do not believe in always discounting and, you know, um, do flash sales and all this stuff. But I thought I've never done it before. Why don't I just try it? And then that voice came in my head that was like, ah, you're going to look desperate. Everyone's going to think that, you know, you are struggling to sell this thing.

[00:18:20] You're going to look, you know, less professional. Um, people are going to think about you by basically begging for a sale. I'm going to have to kind of talk myself through that and think, well, what do you have to lose? You can send this email to you last and put it on your Instagram as well. And just see what happens because it's a great workshop.

[00:18:37] And you know what I actually did, I went back on my website and I read through the testimonials that the people had left about this workshop to remind myself that it was a great workshop and that loads people could benefit from it. If I just gave them the opportunity, if I just put it in front of them.

[00:18:51] So I did, I advertise the flash sale on Instagram and I was like, this is a 24 hour thing. You can get it, half price. I send Ellis to my email, worried that people would unsubscribe, even though I am not usually afraid of unsubscribes, it did frighten me a little bit. Um, but this morning when it closed, I had made 26 sales, actually 28 just before I got on this call.

[00:19:15] So 28 sales and not one person on subscribed from me asking them to buy this thing and. That is, I mean, it, wasn't a huge amount of money, but it's an extra 500 pounds. What does that $700 that I didn't have in my account yesterday, just because I did the thing and I, I, I showed up and I thought, well, I've got nothing to lose.

[00:19:40] Let's do this. And I did anyway. 

[00:19:42] Emily Thompson: Yes. To all of that. I wanted to aim in you about 14 times during all of that. Um, but I say quiet. And the thing that I really want to point out here is that this is extremely common. One of the things that I find myself, especially like either in the community. Probably I'm having one-on-one conversations with bosses who are struggling with, you know, making some revenue or selling the thing or selling the new thing.

[00:20:10] Let's say they have gotten really great at selling something, but they want to add a new course or a new offering or a new product. And it's not seeing the kind of numbers that they anticipated. My first question has always been, have you told people that it's there and like how to buy you? Have you told people how to buy you or it, and oftentimes there's this moment of like, huh?

[00:20:33] I didn't think about that or no, I haven't. And that there is the answer to why it is that you're not seeing the results that you want. Most of the time I find in the kinds of, in the kinds of businesses that we run and what you are explaining is that like email email is the easiest best answer for telling people.

[00:20:56] What it is that you sell, how it is, they can buy it so that your business is making money. 

[00:21:02] Eman Ismail: Yeah. Oh, there's so many things that I want to say back to that. Okay. So firstly, people have, when it comes to email, specifically, people have actively signed up to hear from you. These are people who want to hear from you.

[00:21:15] These are people who have expressed an actual interest in what you do and what they can get from you. So for you to not then give them that chance to find out about how exactly you can help them. It's really sad because. You can help them and they want you to help them, but you're not because you're like just stuck in your mind and you're worried about, you know, this or not in sales.

[00:21:40] And when actually this person just wants to know, well, how can I buy from you? And often what people do when they start newsletters for their own businesses, they turn them into these like nice little, you know, storytelling, newsletters that tell like all the stories in the world, or like do all the roundups of the world.

[00:21:56] And I dunno, recommend like all the books and all the podcasts, but person doesn't ever actually know how to work with you or how to buy from you or, you know, what you even do. Like what do you do? I'll kind of find out what do you do? And it's such a missed opportunity because these people have already told you that they want to hear from you.

[00:22:13] And I really think that today email, like someone giving you that email address, um, when you're a business is a kin to someone giving you that phone number, because email is so personal and because we carry it. On our phones, most of us in our pockets all day long, we can have 24 access, 24 seven access to, to anyone who's on our list.

[00:22:35] And so it's really important to make, to make the most of it. I mean, there are a million other things I wanted to say, but I've completely forgotten. So, and that little speech that, 

[00:22:46] Emily Thompson: yeah. Yes. I agree with all of that as well. Whenever someone gives you their email address, they're literally asking you to tell them how to buy you.

[00:22:55] And so if you're not, if you're not fulfilling your end of that bargain, right, why would they stay around? You're not going to convert them into customers. 

[00:23:02] Eman Ismail: I've remembered. Yes. I'm sorry. I have to say it's that, um, you know, often the issue is that people are not telling people what they've created. I totally agree.

[00:23:14] And the other side of that is like, almost like the, or the end of that is they tell people too late, like they spend forever creating in this thing and then they have the launch day and then they expect like all these sales to just, just flood in on launch day. And that is the complete wrong way to make the use, to make best use of email.

[00:23:35] Because what you want to do is get people excited about it, let them know about it before you've launched before launch day so that people can, can, you know, um, anticipate that it's coming and even like start saving money for it because they know that you're about to release something amazing. And so that's why email is great as well, but people usually forget to focus on pre-launch kind of email sequence.

[00:24:00] And they go straight into the launch. And often they'll even only send like one or two emails when a launch, when you're emailing, uh, should be an intense period of emails. And I know that people are uncomfortable about, about that, and they feel uncomfortable about sending an email every day for a week, for example, but there's lots of things that you can do to do that ethically and to give people a choice in this.

[00:24:26] So firstly, anyone who doesn't want to get the emails will unsubscribe and that is totally okay as well. I just try not to take it personally as hot as it is. And remember that that's usually saving you money because you have to pay for every subscriber if, for most plans that you're on. Right. Um, but the most important thing about that is when you are, when you have like a heavy period of emailing, you can give people the option to opt-out.

[00:24:51] You can say, Hey, if you're in the middle of a, of a hardcore launch for a week and you send an emails every day, which you really should be doing, if you're launching a new thing, You can say at the top of the email, Hey, if you don't want to get emails anymore about X product that I'm launching this week, you can opt out here.

[00:25:07] You will still receive my weekly newsletter, but I won't email you anymore about this launch. And then you you're giving people the option to, to, to just step back from those emails. I'm not totally fine too. I will say some people do that, but still kind of chicken out because they put it like at the end of the email or in the middle where people aren't really going to see it, put it at the top of your email and trust that the right people and you're right.

[00:25:35] You're right. People and your right audience will stay for the ride.

[00:25:43] Emily Thompson: Growing your businesses hard work. They don't call them growing pains for nothing and scaling up the communications that make your business run can often be the hardest part, managing conversations with prospects and customers throughout all stages of their journey can be tough. Information can get lost, add team members, and the problem gets more complex with HubSpot's CRM platform at features like live chat, email templates, and more.

[00:26:10] You get a unified system of record that allows you and your team at the ability to create a better customer experience without missing a beat, you can install, live chat on your websites and marketing emails, allow prospects to book meetings and more, and it all lives in one place. Learn more about how to scale your business without scaling complexity@hubspot.com.

[00:26:39] okay, perfect. I want to go into something that you brought up a minute ago. And for me, this is like maybe the golden nugget that I think that you have like mined out of the ground and it's holding in your little Palm to keep for yourself, but like show it to us a little bit. Okay. 

[00:26:56] Eman Ismail: Okay. Even I want to know what this is.

[00:26:58] I'm like, what are you seeing? And that is 

[00:27:01] the 

[00:27:02] Emily Thompson: use of testimonials. Right. Is the use of testimonials and customer feedback, um, in these sales emails that I've seen you use in a way that I've never seen anyone else use. I think we all know that testimonials are great for marketing, right? But in going through your process, I was so impressed by your dedication to getting feedback into getting these testimonials for both or research for these emails, but also in use in these emails.

[00:27:41] So this is my perspective of your tactic, but I'm wondering for you, why are you doing this? What is your reason for, for digging into testimonials and customer feedback? To the extent that you do for the sales emails? 

[00:27:58] Eman Ismail: That is such a good question. And can I just say no one has ever asked me this question before and it's so refreshing to get thank you.

[00:28:07] So the thing around testimonials and the reason that I use them so much, and the reason that I delve so much into what the, you know, what the audience or customers or clients are thinking as in the people that I'm selling to why they think, and what are they feeling is because people don't want to hear me talk about how amazing I am.

[00:28:29] They would much rather hear, or the people talk about how amazing I am. And they would also, they'll also believe that person much, much more than they'll believe me. And it's the same for all my clients when I'm writing emails. So when I was right in writing a sequence for being boss to, um, encourage people to join the community, They don't want to hear Emily say, this community is amazing.

[00:28:55] They want to hear the community members say this community is amazing. You should join. But not even just that, because people tend to just stop at this kind of surface level testimonials where it's just, Oh, this thing is amazing. You should go get it. I love that. What people really want is to feel seen and heard and understood.

[00:29:17] And so that is what your testimonials can do. Your testimonials should, um, reflect the, the struggles that your prospect, whoever it is that you're selling to, that your prospect is having the worries that they have to having the hesitations and objections that they have around joining. Even if that's price, like I have a testimonial on my website, um, of someone who says something like.

[00:29:44] I was a little worried about the price. And most people would take the out every testimonial because they think that's a negative thing, but that's a really positive thing because if one person is thinking that, then you know that there are 10 others who think and who just haven't said it. So why would you hide away from that?

[00:30:02] Instead, let me show you someone who was just like you, who was worried about investing in me, but did it anyway and got amazing results and was totally happy that they did. And so what the job of the testimonial is to do is to reflect those objections and those consents on those struggles, and maybe even reflect the goals as well that they have.

[00:30:23] So, you know, What is it that the person really wants? What do they want most? And then show them testimonials that get that same result from, from people that they can really, um, feel connected to. And that's why it's so important to put things like faces to your testimonials as well. And all the bits and pieces of information that's really helpful.

[00:30:44] So I was working, uh, I I'm right now working on a number of welcome sequences for e-commerce for an e-commerce business. And we had a testimonial in one of her emails, and I had put that this person I'd put this person's name. So the person who gave the testimonial there was her name. And then I said, um, Muslim mom.

[00:31:06] So she was a Muslim mum and that mattered to the audience because that was the audience that I was talking to. So they would instantly feel like. Oh, okay. This person is like me. So I, I connect with her even if they don't realize that connection, that connection is created well, my client came back and was like, Oh no, is it all right if we just put like the city that she's from.

[00:31:26] So I then had to explain that that's a really useless piece of information to simple on a testimonial, because it doesn't mean anything at all, unless it does mean something. Like if, for example, someone really is going to connect with someone because of that location. If it matters, it matters. But when it doesn't matter is completely irrelevant and every piece of information and not testimonials should be completely relevant.

[00:31:52] And it shouldn't just be about making you look amazing as the person who was doing the selling, it should be about making the reader feel seen and understood. 

[00:32:04] Emily Thompson: Yes. I will also say one of the things that I really enjoyed about your process of. Gathering so many testimonials and so much feedback too, was that it really allowed us to hone in on what the real benefits were because as the person who creates the thing, whatever it may be, you have this idea of what the benefits of working with you or buying the product or buying the course or whatever.

[00:32:30] You have an idea of what those benefits are like. They're going to help, you know, your skin look more radiant or they're going to help, you know, you make more money, save more time. All of those things. But once your customers are in there, they could end up having a whole other experience that you never really imagined.

[00:32:49] Like there is value in there that you haven't experienced because you haven't done it, they're doing it. And I find that that's also another very valuable layer to the work of like talking to your customers, getting that feedback, scraping help those testimonials, all those things. You're able to write more effective, sells copies.

[00:33:11] Once you have a clear view of what it is that you've created, what it is that you're offering through the lens of people who are actually benefiting from it. 

[00:33:20] Eman Ismail: Exactly. Exactly. And it's so important to do that, to the point that, um, I mean, I, I use testimonials and feedback so much for, at the start of a project and even at the end, and now that I'm thinking about creating this a course, that I want to create a program that I want to create in a couple of months, I wouldn't dare create this program without the speaking to the people that I want to sell it to.

[00:33:44] Because they have such a different grip on what's actually going on. Like you said, as business owners, we are too close to the thing. So we really need to speak to the people who are using them, find out what they love about it and how they feel. Um, you know, it's, it's most beneficial and I'm so glad you said that about, you know, you finding all these benefits that you hadn't necessarily thought of because that's what happens when you speak to your customers.

[00:34:11] And it's amazing because you had a full on sales page. That was, that was a really good sales page for the community. But when I spoke to members of the being boss community, when I asked them, what is your favorite thing about the community. There are a few different things that came up that weren't highlighted on the sales page that came up a love for the people that are speaking to you.

[00:34:31] So it was clearly a very common theme that these were the things that they loved most. And so it was those things that I could put into the emails so that the people could get excited by it too. And yeah, I just, I it's super important to speak, to speak to your audience it's to find out what they, what they love most about what you offer and even, even to find out how they use it, because sometimes that is different as well.

[00:34:55] Like I'm currently working with a, um, a decor, like a party decor company. So I'm writing emails and. The owner now, when I asked her, like, how do your customers use, you know, your, your decorations? She said, well, they generally, Oh, she thought that they, they generally, you know, um, put their kids to sleep and then they'll do all the decorations and pirate all the decorations up so that when the kids wake up, it's a surprise and the kids will be, you know, really they'll, they'll love the house.

[00:35:25] They'll be happy. They'll be excited and be like, wow, what an amazing surprise. But when I spoke to the customers, there was another use that came out of it as well. And so, yes, that was one way that people used it. But the other way was they actually got. All the family involved. So the kids would stay up.

[00:35:41] They wouldn't put the kids to sleep and make it as a surprise. They, the kids would join in and put the decorations up so that it would become this family activity where, you know, the family got to spend more time together and it became a memory that they could, they could create an, a tradition that they could create so that they could then do this every year for that celebration and nuggets like that are so important.

[00:36:04] And that actually went into the email as well, because some people will use it like this, and others will use it like this. And that's something that, that the owner didn't know. And, you know, we would never have known if we hadn't spoken to the customers directly. Oh 

[00:36:19] Emily Thompson: yes. If you create a vacuum, you're going to miss so many things, so many things.

[00:36:24] So I'm wondering from you. If you were to look at the way you do a project where you are creating a sells sequence for a client, about how much of that time do you think is collecting customer testimonials and feedback? Like how much of your process is that one key piece? 

[00:36:49] Eman Ismail: I love it. So generally this is, this is what I classes the research process.

[00:36:53] So customer interviews and surveys, and then checking out existing testimonials. And then what I do is I pick the testimonials from, from the, the customer interviews that I do. So the testimonials will generally come out of those customer interviews and surveys. Um, but also interestingly part of that is competitive research too.

[00:37:11] So we're actually check out the testimonials from competitors to see what that customers love most about them. Like all there, common themes or the same things coming up. Are there any points of differentiation that makes my clients, you know, Program or community a special over the other one because the other one doesn't offer XYZ.

[00:37:31] Um, I, Oh my God, I've gone on such a tangent. I completely forgot the question. How much time of your 

[00:37:37] Emily Thompson: process? 

[00:37:39] Eman Ismail: I don't remember. I'm glad that you asked me this because I am a time-tracking freak, so I time track everything. So I know the answer to this. I know the factual answer to this. So I spend, um, well actually I've changed the entire way that I work, but for your project, um, I spent around 20 hours doing research and then it was about 10 hours writing.

[00:38:04] So I spent double the time researching and half the time Brighton. And even now I've changed the way that I work. So, um, I have a VIP day business model now, um, where people can, can. Opt-in to get the customer research as, as an add-on, which I always recommend because it's so, so crucial. Um, but even then, when I am working on, on a VIP day, the people will be really surprised to find that the majority of the day goes on that research on that customer research.

[00:38:36] I'm finding out what exactly the customer is saying, feeling what they need to know, what they're worried about, what their motivations are, what their objections and hesitations are around buying the thing. And, and a lot less of that time is spent writing. And the more time I spend on the research stage, the last time I need to spend on the writing stage, because everything is just so clear to me, like I know going in exactly what I need to write and then writing it is the easy part.

[00:39:04] Emily Thompson: Perfect. That's exactly what I wanted you to say that so much of your time is going into that part of the process. And that is probably the part of the process that no one is doing on their own. 

[00:39:18] Eman Ismail: And it's so important because I just want to say that I never used to do this for my own business. I used to do it for clients.

[00:39:24] And then, because I'd always leave, like the little scraps of myself for me on my own business, you know, like 10:00 PM me when I'm exhausted, I didn't really treat my own projects and my own launches. Like I would, um, for clients I can put so much more effort into client launches than my own. And then one day, you know, I really, I realized that.

[00:39:45] I'm not seeing the same results for myself as I am for clients because I'm not putting the work in for myself. And so I really needed to start treating myself like a client and start doing all those things that I do for clients, including customer research and customer surveys and finding out what my customers actually want before I go into, um, either selling a thing or launching a thing.

[00:40:08] Even when I was writing my website, Emily, I had emailed you. And that was the, that was the point in my life where in my business, where I realized. Oh, no, I need to do some research on myself too. Like I can't, I can't just skip it and think that I don't need to because I'm a copywriter. No, I need to do it too.

[00:40:25] So when I was working on the rebrand in my website, which is officially out, yay, I came to you and asked if I could do some research. Um, but if I could do a customer research interview with you and you kindly said yes. So we spent about 40 minutes on the, on a zoom call where I was asking you a bunch of questions.

[00:40:44] And I got so much information from that call. For example, I mean, here are just a few examples. So the first one was, I didn't know what to call my audience. So I thought that my ideal client calls themselves I'm an online entrepreneur, because that's just what I called them. And through doing the customer research interviews with you and also, or this who were my ideal clients, what hadn't become clients at that point, I found out that nobody calls themselves an online entrepreneur.

[00:41:16] Everyone called themselves an online business owner. So immediately I knew that when I'm talking about my audience on my website, I need to refer to them as an online business owner because you have to speak. About your audience in the same way that they speak about themselves, because if you don't, they won't be able to recognize themselves in your copy.

[00:41:34] They won't connect with your copy because, well, I'm not an online entrepreneur, I'm an online business owner. And so these small details are so, so important. And then on top of that, or the little things, and you'll be really interested in this, the patterns that I've found between the different ideal clients that I was interviewing was that all of them gentled and had like early, early morning journaling, um, all of them enjoyed tea and spoke about, you know, having pots of tea on seriously.

[00:42:06] Most of them woke up early in the morning and got most of the stuff done early in the morning. And when I asked, you know, what you enjoy doing in your spare time, a lot of people mentioned, um, loving, you know, the mountains and being around trees and forest. And it was. Fascinating. And so not everything has to be like a huge, uh, ha Oh my God moment.

[00:42:27] They can also be those tiny things that really create that connection to you. So on my website, you'll find references to journaling and pots of tea, because it's those little things by the audience as well. The person who's reading can read it and think, Oh, how did he, how did he mind know that about me?

[00:42:44] How did she know that I can see? How did she know that I like to journal those things really matter and are just as important as the hardcore sales side. 

[00:42:54] Emily Thompson: I love all of that because you're learning so many things about people that you're probably not spending as much time talking to as you should be, that infuses itself into so many parts of your business, that they're going to be able to relate to you that much more easily and better and faster.

[00:43:13] And all of these things just by taking some time to do some, what really is some powerful research. 

[00:43:18] Eman Ismail: Absolutely.

[00:43:22] Emily Thompson: This episode is brought to you by fresh books. How awkward is it to ask your client? Have you seen my invoice? It's absolutely. Cringe-worthy so let's not ever ask that. Okay. Instead send your invoices with fresh books so that you can see when invoices have been opened, if at all, and even set up automated follow-up emails that go out without you having to lift a finger, try fresh books for free for 30 days, no credit card required.

[00:43:48] Go to freshbooks.com/boston, enter being boss in the, how did you hear about us? Hm.

[00:43:57] Next layer of this topic slash question topic. It's a topic is getting usable testimonials and feedback from customers and clients. So I would love to hear from you, if you have any like fancy tips or tricks for getting really usable feedback and not just like. Weird quotes that don't make sense or out of context, or maybe like isn't weaving those threads.

[00:44:24] That makes so much sense. Um, how do you make that? Do, 

[00:44:28] Eman Ismail: Oh, I love this question too. Okay. So the key to this is to give your audience the guidance they need. So don't just leave it to them and say, Hey, can I have a testimonial? Because most people find that really difficult. Even me as a writer, you don't know, I enjoy writing testimonials, but every time someone says to me, Hey, could you write me a testimonial?

[00:44:47] I always think how difficult that is for someone who isn't particularly comfortable with biotin to just kind of get the words from thinner. I write and research and find testimonials all the time. So I know how to write a good one. Most people don't the key is to guide, guide people in how to give you a good testimonials.

[00:45:08] So never just leave it up to them. So there are a few different ways that you can do that. But the way that I do it is, well actually I've experimented with a couple of different things, but the way that I do it now is I send them a survey. And the very front page of the survey is all about framing this entire experience.

[00:45:28] So I tell them what I need from them instead of just, uh, expecting them to, to know that I tell them that, you know, they are the best person to give me feedback because, you know, they have experienced firsthand what it's like to work with me. So there's a bit of compliments in them that, but also allowing them to realize that, um, although they might feel like they're not the best person to give this testimonial, they are expertly qualified to give me this testimonial, Alma.

[00:45:58] We want to make them feel good about themselves and also feel confident about giving me the testimonial. So there's, there's a bit of psychology here. That's really important. And then, um, The next bit is, you know, telling them the more detail, the better, and because a lot of people will naturally just write one or two sentences, but if you tell them, Hey, I'm looking for detail that gives them permission to write more.

[00:46:22] Um, I also tell them, um, to not edit anything. So just brain dump, everything that comes to mind because I'm going to edit it. And that's what most people don't do, because most people think you can't add a testimonial or that it's unethical to add a testimonial, but it's not, it's completely fine. As long as all the facts are correct, like you're not making things up.

[00:46:47] You're not adding information or adding things that the person didn't say. You absolutely should be editing your testimonials because you know what your audience needs to hear. If you're, if someone has read something completely irrelevant, don't just put it on your website or in your sales email, because someone wrote it right.

[00:47:04] For me that, um, and so the other thing that I say is I, you know, I tell them how long it's going to be, how long they should take. So I give them the expectation of this surveys will probably take you about 10 minutes so that they can think, okay, cool. I'm going to put 10 minutes aside to do this thing.

[00:47:21] Um, because otherwise it becomes a burden while they're just kind of clicking through and like, Oh my God, when is this going to end? Right. I also told them how many questions so that they can prepare for that as well. So it really is about framing, the whole experience and, and setting expectations. Um, And then I also say, I would love for you to give me the, the, the chance to share this testimonial so that I can, um, promo your business a little bit on my social media and on my website.

[00:47:48] And I know to do this because I'm a copywriter, always talk in benefits. Um, no one wants to hear about how a testimony is going to help you grow your business because. They don't care about your business. Basically they care about their own business, right? So turn it into a benefit for them like this, this testimonial, isn't just going to help me grow my business.

[00:48:10] I'm going to help you grow your business because I'm going to promo it on my website, my social media, and more people are going to hear about your business. And most people find it will find it very difficult to say no to that. And we'll do, we'll do the testimonial for you. And then it's about creating questions that actually get the information you need.

[00:48:27] So don't just ask, you know, how did you find working with me? What. Where you going through or what were you experiencing before you came to find me? What led you to hire an email copywriter? What struggles were you experiencing before you found me? Because you want to sat like the whole picture and get the whole context, because that is super, super important.

[00:48:50] Your testimonial too. Um, and then you want to go take them through the journey. So, you know, then, you know, what was it, what was it like working with me? Did, were there, was there anything that almost made you say no to working with me? Because that's a great way to understand what's stopping people from working with you because this person said yes, but a million other people may not have ever come round and may have stuck with that.

[00:49:13] No. So you want to know what it is that stopping people from working with you, because you also want to handle that in the testimonial, in the testimonial and actually mention it. And then you can continue to go through that journey of, you know, how did you feel when you first saw. The copy because emotions is so, so important to this whole experience because we know that people make buying decisions based on that emotions primarily right.

[00:49:41] As much as we will love to think that way we're hugely rational. I guess we are, we are, but emotion comes into it a lot and then, you know, end it on. How do you feel now and what are you excited about for this, you know, copy to do for you and with me, I'm in a great position because I can always go back and check results and statistics and see what the open rates are.

[00:50:03] And, and if the open rates on, you know, um, what they should be, then I can go back and, you know, have an arrangement with the client, why I go back and optimize and have a look at what's going on and that kind of thing. Um, But I think the difference between me and a lot of copywriters is that I'm really interested in the results because I know that that's what matters to my clients.

[00:50:22] So firstly, it matters to me because I want to get great results. Well, my client, um, and then also matters so much to my client vested in me and has obviously come to me because they want a certain result. Although I do always say to clients, there are no results guaranteed, because there's so much that goes into email.

[00:50:40] It's never just the email copy or strategy. That's playing a role from email design to even the tech of email and implementation. There are so many different parts to it. Um, but yeah, uh, then so most copywriters don't go back and check the results, but I do, and I think that's a huge, huge difference between me and a lot of copywriters.

[00:50:59] And that probably, um, helps me get more customers and clients than maybe, maybe some other copywriters, because I know my audience well enough to know that they care about results. So when they read my testimonials, they're going to see mention of results and statistics and open rates and conversions.

[00:51:18] And, and then the, the key to, to kind of put in that altogether is to create that testimonial that tells a story in that that tells a journey. And, um, really again, just reflects what your audience is thinking and feeling and helps them make a decision. Most people think that sales copy, whatever is that you're writing, whether it's an email, a website, whatever it is, most people think that the job of copy is to make someone say yes, but it's really not.

[00:51:48] The job of great copy is to make, is to help someone make a decision so that they say, yes, Or no, as opposed to sitting on that fence and sticking with them, I'm not sure. So even if they say, even if it's just a mono, that makes someone say, no, this is not right for me or this person isn't right. For me or someone read your email and thinks, Oh, okay.

[00:52:09] Yeah, the bean community is not right. For me, that's still a win because you are getting closer to creating the environment and, or working with the customers or the people that you want to. And you are attracting the right people by making them say yes, and you'll repairing the wrong people by making them say no.

[00:52:28] And that is the goal. You really do 

[00:52:31] Emily Thompson: pull those testimonials out of people. I think it's great though. I think it's great. You just painted the whole picture of why it is that this sort of effort and getting testimonials is so important because it really is about. Pulling it out of people, right? It's about really getting them to share their experiences in the correct frame that you're going to get what you need, and then putting it together in a way that you are going to get what you need out of the two out of using the testimonial.

[00:53:04] Um, that is, thank you so much for sharing that process. Now, I think the last piece of this puzzle is actually sharing those testimonials. And so I'm wondering from you where it is that you think that bosses, creative business owners, entrepreneurs, whatever you guys are calling yourself where those testimonials need to be used for them.

[00:53:31] Eman Ismail: Yeah. Everywhere because social proof is so, so, so important because like I said, at the beginning, no one wants to hear you talk about how amazing you are or how amazing your product is or whatever it is that you're selling. They want to hear other people say it and they will believe, or the people a whole lot more than they'll believe you.

[00:53:49] So whether that's on social media and you have constant, you know, um, like scheduled posts of testimonials going out highly recommend, not, um, whether it's just getting into the habit of asking people, you know, when someone says something nice about you, your services or your products asking them, Hey, can I screenshot that?

[00:54:06] Whether it's, whether it is they've sent an email or whether it's an Instagram comment or post that they've tagged you in, Hey, can I screenshot that? And you see that as part of your kind of testimonial reel that you just keep sharing, you should be sharing testimonials in your emails, especially when you're selling something like that should be a whole.

[00:54:29] Email and in, in, in lots of cases, I actually do more. So I don't just do one email. That's dedicated to testimonials in a launch. I'll do like two, maybe even three, because it's that important. Um, do share them in your sales emails and around your launches and all that good stuff. And of course on your website, but most people make the mistake of having a testimonials page on their website, where they just stick all the testimonials on one page.

[00:54:57] So it's like navigation at the top, right. Testimonials, and that they will lie, which kind of work, but it shouldn't be the only place where your testimonials are. Um, the other mistake that people make with testimonials on their website is just having them at the bottom of. The page of the website page, because the issue with that is that you are making the assumption that everybody is scrolling to the bottom.

[00:55:21] And most people, the majority of people are not scrolling to the bottom of any page on your website. And so you have taken away that chance to see those testimonials. So what you really need to do is use a SCATA your cross, your testimonials across your website, and also across each page of your website.

[00:55:43] And of course always make it relevant to whatever it is that you're talking about that. Um, but that is the way to, to use testimonials because you don't want them to be concentrated in one place, because whether that's on the testimonials page or at the bottom, because you make an assumption about the user, the way the user uses your website, which.

[00:56:00] Never make assumptions about that. Um, even with emails, the problem with only sharing testimonials and an email one time is that you're making the assumption that everybody's going to open that email, which is 100% not the case. So give people the chance to see it, um, you know, multiple times. And then the other way to use testimonials is to use them in places where there are points of hesitation or objection.

[00:56:23] So if I have just introduced the price of my thing, I may then have a testimonial directly below that, where I talk about, um, where I introduced someone who is talking about the price and maybe how they weren't sure about whether it was going to be value for money, but actually it turned out to be and loving it.

[00:56:45] And, you know, they wished they'd bought more or whatever it is. Um, so really use these testimonials intentionally and strategically to think about and think about where they would be best placed. Pepper them everywhere. 

[00:56:59] Emily Thompson: Yes, absolutely. 

[00:57:00] Eman Ismail: Everywhere. 

[00:57:03] Emily Thompson: Yes. Okay. Wonderful. I feel like you have given us such a, such a wonderful broad perspective of testimonials and how they were powerful and how you need to be spending more time working on getting those testimonials and gathering that feedback than you are actually writing any sales copy that you're writing.

[00:57:26] It is ill informed. If you have not done that research and how to get it and where to put all of it, any sort of last tips or thoughts for us. 

[00:57:38] Eman Ismail: Oh, I think I've given you everything. The only other thing I would say is like you just said, Emily, a lot of people again, make the mistake of thinking about testimonials as a last minute thing.

[00:57:50] Or, which is something that's really frustrating for me is when I work with someone and they don't ask me for a testimonial right after we've worked together, they'll ask me for it three weeks or a month later. And I'm like, at this point, I can't even remember what the process was because as business owners, we're busy and we've done a million other things since those two or three weeks have passed.

[00:58:12] And so really make testimonials part of your systems and processes. So just like you get a new client, for example, and you send them an onboarding email, make it part of your process for offboarding that you requested testimonial. Like it is not a thing that you have to remember. It just happens because it's part of your process.

[00:58:34] It's part of your workflow that way you never, um, you never miss it. You never forget it. And also you can set the expectations at the beginning with your client. Um, I have in my contract to PA a section where I talk about, you know, asking them for a testimonial, um, at the end of our project on that, I may even ask them for a case study at the end of, of our project so that they know that these are things I'm thinking about.

[00:58:57] So that when I ask them for a testimonial, they're not surprised. It's not the first time they're hearing about it. 

[00:59:04] Emily Thompson: Absolutely. Yes. That I like to gather testimonials and keep them all in either a Google. They used to be in Google docs. Now I keep them in a notion sort of database. And that way I can always just like go in there and pull from them as I need, like keeping them all in one place too, is an important part of that.

[00:59:23] Process of gathering them, is it make sure it's easy to find them when you need them? Cause there's nothing more embarrassing than having to search through four years of emails to find that one testimonial. 

[00:59:33] Eman Ismail: Exactly. I totally agree. 

[00:59:36] Emily Thompson: Awesome. Amman, please share with everyone where it is that they can find you around the internets.

[00:59:44] Eman Ismail: Thank you. So my brand new sparkling website is in chaos. I N K house.org.uk org.uk. And my Instagram is in cow's writing. So can we say hi, I'd love to chat to you. Okay. And 

[01:00:01] Emily Thompson: last question for you. And so what makes you feel most boss? 

[01:00:07] Eman Ismail: What makes me feel most boss? I feel most boss when. I have complete control of my day when I don't feel like my day is being dictated by other people's schedule, whether that's meetings or calls, or even just replying to other people's emails.

[01:00:25] Um, like today I knew that I'd be doing this interview kind of early evening for me. So I had lion, I took my son to school and I went back home. I did like a couple of hours of, of work and then went back to bed and I had a, not because naps are important. And, and then I cooked a roast for my family and then just like came out to have my interview and just being able to have those days where I fully control my day.

[01:00:55] And like I can work, um, according to my energy levels and my needs and my family's needs. That definitely makes me feel most boss. I love every 

[01:01:06] Emily Thompson: bit of that. Thank you so much for coming to chat 

[01:01:07] Eman Ismail: with me. Thank you for having me. 

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