How to get blurbs and letters of recommendation

Hey Dave – You had an article a while back about using quotes from clients as promotion on websites. I’ve been doing sets for some local businesses and clubs and the people who hire me say they like what I do. Can I just take what they say and post it on my website, or do I need it in writing? How do I get these quotes? I want to move into doing better paying corporate shows. Thanks – H.P.

Hey H.P. – You have a good memory. I ran an FAQ and Answer last September about using blurbs and letters of recommendation. Since I only keep these ramblings posted for six months before hitting delete, it’s no longer online. BUT because I’m a good guy (play along if you don’t actually know me) I’ll give you a brief synopsis…

The earlier article talked about what you’d want a client to say about you and your performance in a good letter (or email) of recommendation. I pointed out that at best it would be an advertisement for what you contributed to the event – and an enticement for potential clients to hire you for future gigs. Then you would pull out a line or two (a “blurb”) to post on your website, like a short positive review you’d see on a book cover.

Something maybe... not like this!

And now that we’ve had a quick review, we’ll continue from here…

As a lot of comedian and speakers know, a letter of recommendation is never a slam dunk. In other words, a client may promise to send you one, but that doesn’t make it a guarantee. It doesn’t (always) mean they didn’t like you or your performance, it’s just sometimes they find work, life and other important stuff takes up their time.

They might just forget.

What I suspect is that writing a letter of recommendation – at least for some people – is like doing homework. They may look at writing as “work” or they really don’t know how to put their thoughts into words. They’re not writers like most comedians and speakers and will put it off the extra work until… like… forever.

We’ll deal with those procrastinators in a moment. But first…

A little too busy to write...

To help jolt the memory of clients who might not realize the importance of a letter of recommendation to your career, here’s a tip I learned a long time ago from successful speakers and comedians.

And believe me – it works a LOT more than it doesn’t…

Always take a self-addressed, stamped envelope to all your gigs. When you’re talking with the client after your performance and they’re telling you how great you were, the audience loved it, yadda-yadda-yadda, come right out and ask for the letter. They’re already giving you a positive review, so just make it part of the conversation. And when they say yes – and they will if they’re heaping praise on you – hand them the envelope. Tell them you’re making it easy for them.

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Seriously. I’m not joking.

Before I started doing this, it was always hit or miss on getting a letter or an email. But once they have the SASE it apparently makes it easier for them to remember. I also suspect they would feel a bit guilty having that envelope and not following through on their promise. So, for that reason alone, let’s call it the guilt factor.

It works more than it doesn’t. And the best part is that there are two options for this. The client can actually send a printed letter on company (or school) letterhead that you can scan and post on your website. But even if that turns into too much “work,” it will probably encourage them to send an email of praise.

Either way – it works in your favor.

It also helps if you send a thank you email, letter or postcard – depending on how you’ve been communicating with the client before the gig. It’s the follow-up that you should be doing anyway. If you haven’t received one by that time, use that opportunity to remind them about a letter of recommendation.

BTW – an email of recommendation is also acceptable. Just like using quotes and photos in a book, I feel it’s important to have something in writing from the person recommending you as proof of their permission. A verbal quote is fine, but they may forget, see their name on your website and… well, like any good business deal having something in writing is always best.

If you still don’t get the letter AND especially for those clients who really aren’t writers and plan to put this off forever, here’s another option. And again – I don’t make this stuff up. I was given this advice by a highly paid and constantly working humorous speaker at a meeting of The National Speakers Association (NSA). And the reason I’m telling you that is because I found this reference worthy of being a “blurb” to back up this technique…

If you haven’t received a letter a week after your performance, call the client. Since you’ve already worked for them, you should at least have a one phone call relationship where you can again thank them for the gig. You can also ask for any advice or feedback about your performance.

If they have good things to say – and they should if they said it after your performance – ask again about a letter or email. If the client apologizes and has excuses about being busy, offer to make their life easier. Ask if you can write the letter (or email) yourself and send it to them.

Again – I don’t make this stuff up.

I’ve used this advice and it worked for me – and obviously for the guy that gave me the tip in the first place.

Remind the client it’s important for future bookings or that talent agents and event planners really need recommendations to work with you. Say you’ll write something simple, will send it, (email or with a SASE), and they can edit or change it any way they’d like. Your request is that they email it back with their “okay” (endorsement) or copy it onto a page with company letterhead, sign, and return (using your generously supplied SASE). You can usually hear them breathe a sigh of relief on the phone.

They just got someone else – you – to do their homework for them.

Okay, most working comics and speakers are probably thinking this is elementary stuff. They know about this. So, my excuse is that these tips are for the newbies that don’t. I’ve mention this to beginning comics in my workshops and can see eyes light up. Yeah, these are good ideas – and they work.

One generous reader also sent me an email about the importance today of having video letters of recommendation. Again – great idea!

Always consider filming your performance (ask client’s permission first). It could be for promotional purposes or just a way to review your set. If the client or audience members are giving you high praise after your program, ask if they would say it into the camera.

Seriously – again – I’m not joking.

Along with a lot of other comics and speakers, I’ve done this, and it works. Add their video endorsements to your promo reel. As I said in the earlier article, it’s always better when someone else is telling the world how great you are – rather than you having to talk yourself up.

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Thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!!