Four Types of Social Proof You Can Use

No doubt you’ve seen this many times, so you know just how effective it is.  A prospective customer comes in, and he wants to look at your “Widget Maker”.  If you are doing your job, you will no doubt ask him how he came to hear of your “Widget Maker” – you need to know whether your website, Facebook, promotional campaign or whatever, is working. 

And something like seven times out of ten, he’ll tell you:

  • His neighbour/brother/colleague told him about it (Word of Mouth)
  • He read some reviews on-line
  • There were some powerful testimonials from people he respected
  • Everybody is after one, or whatever

These are all forms of “social proof”.  As master copywriter John Forde wrote “Used right (morally as well as strategically), it [social proof] is a powerful tool for selling.”

In “Is Word of Mouth your most powerful promotional tool?” I discussed the role of WOM in removing risk to the buyer in making their decision.  It overcomes objections, those doubts a potential buyer has lurking in the back of their mind that are holding him back. 

But social proof is more than just word-of-mouth over the backyard fence in today’s on-line world. In fact, there are four types of social proof you can use to strengthen your marketing, and you can use them whether you are writing sales letters, emails content for your website or advertisements.

1. Endorsement of experts…

A stamp of approval for your product or service from a credible expert makes a big difference.

It’s great if you can get an expert to give an endorsement but there are other opportunities:

So you “borrow” it.  You might not be able to collar the right expert’s quote for your product, but, with a bit of research, you may be able to find a credible expert commenting about the type of products you provide – XYZ says widget makers make great transformers for ……….  It could come from a newspaper quote, LinkedIn mention, TV interview or whatever. 

Your experts don't even have to be known by name if their positions elevate them to the rank of expert - Bill Blogg, Professor of Equine Dentistry at Oxford University

The expert doesn't even have to be a person.  A prestigious business or institutional name works as well - The University of XYZ’s Marketing Department, says that social proof is …

2. User social proof …

User social proof includes customer testimonials, case studies, and online reviews.  This type of social proof allows you to put yourself in the other person's shoes.

Testimonials are without a doubt one of the most persuasive forms of proof.  Even if your prospect doesn't know the person giving the testimonial, reading it gives her reassurance.  Adding a photo helps.  And as I have said elsewhere, give their name and where they’re from.  AK, Alice Springs is not particularly convincing.  The more testimonials the better.

Sometimes businesses simplify this by listing well known clients who use their product.

There is another way - you have no doubt seen ads saying “As used by ….”, naming a famous person.

But perhaps the most rapid growth is in online reviews. This is more than the reviews you see on Amazon on or through trip advisor. Services such as AirBNB and Uber require reviews from you and they guide other people’s choices.

Online directories usually include a line at the bottom of a business listing saying “Be the 1st to review this business”.

Online reviews can make or break a business as Mike Major discussed when I interviewed him a little while ago – “Online Customer Comments – Problem or Potential?” 

3. The crowd social proof …

You have heard of the herd mentality?  We all like to believe we are individual, but we also like to go with the fashion, the trend, to be seen to be doing as others are doing.

That is why you see promotions that say “as used by 9/10 house wives”, or “37% of the population use ABC.  Promoting the number of people who bought their product is a well-used tactic by MacDonald’s.

Crowd social proof panders to that desire to be part of the herd, to be seen to go with the flow, not to be different.

4. Friends and family social proof …

This is word of mouth over the backyard fence.  The recommendations of friends and family usually carry great weight.  This type of social proof has blossomed with the rise of social media.

"Like," "subscribe," "follow," supplement (and are supplanting) face-to-face recommendations.  Go onto Facebook and you'll see brands your FB friends have "liked.

I discussed this in “How Social Media can help Both Parts of Sales”.

Three Email Sales Pitch

I’ve been working with clients on “3 email” pitch for any sales offer, a series of 3 emails each examining the issue from the client’s perspective, demonstrating the benefits of my client’s offer, overcoming objections and bringing a sense of urgency to the Call for Action.  It works, but I can’t claim to be the originator.  I’ve “borrowed” from people such as Tom Poland and Ryan Deiss.  And why have I borrowed?  The ‘repeated’ technique has been proven to work.

If you would like to discuss with me how you might do that?  Book a Strategy Consult here.

© Copyright 2015 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

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