About two years ago, a Vietnamese sandwich (banh mi) shop opened up near my apartment in San Francisco. In Vietnam, banh mi is street food that you buy from a cart—in San Francisco, it’s just about the only affordable sandwich in town, usually costing three to five bucks.
The name of this little shop is Dinosaurs. It opened right down the block from a San Francisco food icon, Ike’s Sandwiches. Ike’s is a juggernaut in the sandwich world, selling $10 behemoths to lines that curve out the door and around the block. In contrast, Dinos is nestled in a cramped storefront, hidden from the road by trees that seem to have been planted out of spite, tucked between a Volvo repair shop and a couple non-descript warehouses (Street View link—it's the red storefront).
From day one, this hidden gem had some of the best Vietnamese sandwiches in the city. But how the hell was anyone supposed to find this place?
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Here at Less Annoying CRM, I have the pleasure of working daily with small business owners and employees who understand what it’s like trying to build something from nothing. One major benefit of that has been an embarrassing glut of glowing testimonials, offered generously by users who know (often from experience) how important it is to have people vouch for you. As our little three-person team tries to elbow our way into the crowded small business CRM market, the testimonials page of our site is crucial to building initial trust in the minds of potential users who land on our homepage.
One of the most simple and yet invaluable things you can do for a fledgling business/service is to lend them your voice. Reviews and testimonials cost you nothing other than your time, and they help everyone by giving a leg up to the people who are working every day to offer innovative, high-quality products and services from scratch.
Your local Starbucks doesn’t need your Yelp review. Dinosaurs does.
The “This American Life” podcast doesn’t need your iTunes review. “Whisper Cities” does.
37signals’ Highrise doesn’t need your testimonial. Less Annoying CRM does.
No business would ever claim that their customers owe them more than the cost of the product or service. And fishing for them, well, that always smells a little fishy. At Less Annoying CRM, we don’t offer any special deals for people who leave us testimonials, and we don’t throw any frustrating splash screens in your face requesting them, either. That hasn’t stopped our amazing users from sending us their heartfelt words of support and impassioned endorsements. Each and everyone one is a boost that propels our company toward long-term success.
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So, too busy to take a few minutes and give your favorites new business your public stamp of approval? Shame on you. And, yes, shame on me. Because even though they’ve filled my belly with delicious, affordable sandwiches for almost two years, I only just now wrote Dinosaurs the Yelp review they've long deserved—and they undoubtedly needed my words a lot more when they were just getting started.
While buying Dinosaurs sandwiches was the best thing I could have done for them early on, reinforcing their reputation would have been the next-best, and would take me only a couple minutes. I could write a short Yelp review on my phone between the time I order a delicious pork banh mi and the time it arrives at my table.
So if there’s a Dinosaurs sandwich shop in your life, something you’ve discovered that gives you enough value or enjoyment to cover its cost many times over, take a few minutes to even that scale a little with your words. Help like-minded people find something they’re going to love.
And if nothing else, I promise you that the owners of that business or service will glow when they read your words. I know I do, every single time.