8. Social Proof

We have already studied two of our Eight Business Boosters, namely the importance of having an effective Headline to grab people’s attention and how Irresistible Offers give them reasons to engage with us.

Now we are going to look at how you grow your business using Social Proof, in all its forms.

Social Proof

Before prospects buy, many of them ask questions. One of those questions is ‘Who’s had this before me and what did they think?’

We all like to follow others because it gives us reassurance, as we are never quite sure we can believe the claims made by a business, plus we face so much choice, how do we decide who to give our custom to?

So we look for guidance and reassurance, and the most effective form of Social Proof are Testimonials and Reviews. And the reason these are so effective is that if I say great things about my achievements with my clients I may be boasting.

But if my clients say those things, it is much more believable.

Quite a few companies collect testimonials – very few actually use them as a booster for their business. Many remain a well-guarded secret!

Pretty much all of us are influenced by testimonials in our everyday lives, if we use Amazon, EBay, TripAdvisor or indeed most forms of online shopping.

I have yet to search for a product on Amazon or EBay that only resulted in one product being found. If that ever proved to be the case, then I don’t have much choice and probably easier to make a decision.

Most of the time however, we are faced with a huge choice and range of options – so how on earth can we decide which is the right one for us?

We immediately look for reviews, social proof in other words. More specifically we look for:

The number of reviews – the more the better! If there are only a handful, it makes us question why. How come so few people have bought or expressed a view? What do they know that I don’t? So doubt creeps in.

The overall ratings are of course important, and even if we don’t read all of them the trend is very apparent. Clues to whether the reviewers are like me with my issues and concerns.

And finally whether the reviews are genuine and believable, after all in the same way as you can buy ‘likes’ for Facebook or followers on Twitter (never ever do this by the way!) so there are people reviewing products and services for money!

The same is true for any searches we do on TripAdvisor if we are looking for somewhere to eat or stay, we pay particular attention to what others have experienced, both good and bad.

So why would our customers and prospects be any different?

  • What do you think your customers would want to know?
  • What makes a great review?
  • How long should it be?
  • How many do you need ideally?

There are three ways you can get and use these boosters – written testimonials, audio testimonials and video testimonials.

If you ask customers for testimonials, many will be happy to provide them but of course, they don’t really know what to say or if they do, it is too general and dare I say it too ‘nice’. It is common for customers writing testimonials without any guidance to say things like ‘nice people to do business with…’ or ‘…very helpful and friendly…’

All very pleasant and may be true of course, but prospects aren’t going to buy from you just because you are ‘nice’, and maybe everybody else offering your service or product is equally nice!

So you need to think carefully as to what your ideal testimonial would contain, and what message you wish to convey. And there are five keys things to cover:

  • From that Target Market – this is very powerful and is often For instance if your product or service appeals to different target markets, then your testimonials needs to be from a cross range of these markets. You need prospects to relate to the people giving their views. If you offered something for the building industry for instance, then you would want testimonials from builders, architects, surveyors as well as the trades. Use different testimonials from different target markets.
  • Talking to that Target Market – using the example above of a building industry product, the message to the builder is different from that an architect would want to So again, different testimonials for different target markets.
  • Specific about the results or benefits – relevant to that target Nice doesn’t cut it I’m afraid! What were the specific results and benefits of using this service – the more specific the better. “I lost 2 stone twelve and a half pounds” is way better than “I lost nearly three stone”. Use hard percentages and numbers wherever possible.
  • Names your company or product – making it very clear the testimonial relates to you and your
  • Is named and identifies the author – the more information the better but you may have to be sensitive to people’s concerns, but at the very least use their first name and location and/or

You need to ask your customers for testimonials and reviews, using the above checklist and help them articulate the message you want to give.

  • How many target markets can you identify for your business
  • How would the messages differ for each
  • What specific results or benefits should be included in any testimonial
  • Who can you approach right now for a testimonial
  • When are you going to do this

Testimonials aren’t the only form of Social Proof though, you can also exploit –

Case Studies – these can be very powerful indeed and give you the opportunity to describe in detail how using your services delivers great results. They should follow a set format, namely:

  • Client name
  • Their background
  • The specific problem described in as much detail as you can
  • What happened once they started using your services/product
  • The detailed specific results achieved
  • And finally finish with a ‘Don’t take our word for it’ section and a testimonial from the customer saying how delighted they

Ideally you should have numerous case studies detailing the different aspects of your service, exactly as before, namely from your target markets to your target markets!

Evidence – which could be how many people have bought from you so far, as provides reassurance. Association – the people on board already, especially if the names are well known and/or respected. Endorsements – celebrities, even very minor local ones can be very effective

Membership of Associations – as long as they mean something to your prospects and very powerful in a B2B context. Joint Ventures – with a respected company, their credibility becomes your credibility.

There are plenty of external review sites which can capture your customer’s views, both good and bad (Trusted Trader, Feefo, Google Reviews and many more). These add credibility but you lose an element of control and so are best suited to certain types of business, especially those where lack of trust is crucial and typical.

Each module starts with two relatively open questions which You Must Answer!

You then hit Save.

You will be emailed the rest of the module, which is in a Word compatible format .rtf and a link to a Google Doc, which will allow you to edit online.

This document contains the rest of the module, to include everything we know about the subject, links, examples, and of course further key questions for you to answer as well.

Being your document on your PC or in the cloud, you can save at any stage and go back to at any time too. In fact, this is probably the best way to tackle this work.

So let’s start this module by answering these key questions:

This document contains the rest of the module, including everything we know about the subject, links, examples, and of course further key questions for you to answer as well.