As effective as testimonials can be, some clients are best kept under wraps. “We have found that folks are much more open to providing a testimonial if they know their full name won't be used,” says Patrice Olivier-Wilson of Biz-comm, a marketing agency with many remodeling clients ( “It all comes down to a privacy issue, for the most part.”

Wilson suggests using initials instead of full names, and says that even “homeowner” is fine, especially on materials that have a long shelf life. This protects you as well as your clients. As glowing as their recommendation may be at any one time, their opinion can change, later. And “there's the name out there, printed in full, for all to see.”

Discretion is especially critical with high-profile clients, says Peggy Fisher of Fisher Group, Annandale, Va. She works with ambassadors and other prominent figures whose confidentiality she is careful not to breach through marketing materials or even casual name-dropping.

Fisher focuses instead on winning her clients' trust — a goal that applies regardless of their social status. She listens to their concerns, respects their wishes, and tells them “that they're our marketing program — that it's very important that they be satisfied.” More often than not, they refer Fisher Group to their friends, Fisher says, “particularly if they're in a like-minded community of people who take care of one another.”