The Power Of Social Proof

What other people say about you is more convincing than anything you may say yourself.

If you sell a service, you need testimonials on your ‘About’ page, as a sub-page in the ‘About’ section of your site, or maybe even on every page.

Testimonials should be in the form of problem:solution:results. As I’ve often mentioned, people buy results. Testimonials that read ‘Thanks, you were great’ may give you a warm fuzzy feeling but they’re no good for convincing new customers to choose you. Better to explain what the situation was before you got involved, what you did, and what happened as a result of your intervention.

As I understand it, the law about testimonials is that they have to be true. If someone challenges you, you should be able to pull out the piece of paper or email showing the original testimonial. Mind you, in over 30 years in marketing I’ve never known that to happen!

Don’t publish anyone’s name on the Internet without their permission. If you can’t get permission, then maybe you can use their initials or just their job title such as ’43-year-old greengrocer’ or ‘CEO of international finance house’.

Admittedly, people are increasingly cynical about testimonials, so if you can use a picture of the client that’s a good thing, while video testimonials are the most powerful of all.

Video is the rising medium for online communications. Depending on your brand, you don’t have to use BBC-quality images (although it’s wise to use good quality sound if you can). You can set up your own YouTube channel just by logging in with your Google account, and upload video from your smartphone or Flip camera with just one click. No techie knowledge required.

Keep your videos less than 1-2 minutes long, if possible. Remember that YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, so add a keyword-rich description and comma-separated tags to be found on search. Also include a link back to your website as a call to action (inbound links are also good for SEO).

If you run events, how about filming feedback from your attendees immediately afterwards? Just stand them in front of your banner showing your logo and ask them what they thought. Then ‘top and tail’ the footage to edit it and add captions / call to action, and then click the ‘share’ button to embed the video within your blog, website or email newsletter.

You can always use case studies as well or instead of testimonials. That’s where you tell the story in your own words about what you did for your client. Again, it’s best to use the format of problem:solution:results, ideally with a quote from the client.

If you sell products, you need reviews. When you buy from Amazon you probably read reviews before you click ‘add to basket’. When you book a hotel you probably check Trip Advisor as well as the hotel’s own website where you know they are going to claim to be brilliant. Your customers want to know what other customers say about your products too.

And finally, if you sell yourself (as an expert in whatever you do), you need recommendations, such as on your LinkedIn profile.

I originally wrote this article for Fresh Business Thinking

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