A few years ago, I read “50 Shades of Grey”
“50 Shades of Grey”!
I am a writer. I like LITERATURE. Do you know how hard it is for me to admit this?
So why did I pick up this abomination of a novel?
Everyone was talking about it. Everyone. And I wanted in on the conversation.
I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Despite being a grown-ass woman, I didn’t want to be left out. I know, I know, I’m rolling my eyes at myself!
That’s social proof for you.
It’s powerful and if you want to grow your business, it’s time to harness that power!
What is social proof?
Social proof is marketing gold. It is a potent sales tool and if you’re not using it in the promotion of your small business, you’re missing out.
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon that influences and changes people’s behaviour.
When we see a product flying off the shelves, we assume that it must be amazing and we join the queue.
If we walk past a restaurant and see that there are only a couple of tables left, we hurry on in. If it’s that busy, the food must be outstanding, right?
When all of our friends are raving about an amazing novel, you don’t want to be the loser who doesn’t know what everyone is banging on about.
Social proof is bloody powerful. It is the sole reason I wasted an afternoon of my life reading ‘THAT book’.
Fundamentally, we are herd animals. We want nothing more than social acceptance. We bow to peer pressure and we worry that if we miss out on “The Next Big Thing”, we will be social pariahs.
However, many small business owners just don’t appreciate its importance or know how to use it effectively.
How can you use social proof to boost your business?
Social proof, when used correctly, can improve your credibility, create hype, reassure hesitant buyers and generally make you lots more money.
Here are a few easy ways that you can start incorporating social proof into your business marketing, today.
I was chatting to a fellow solopreneur this afternoon and we somehow ended up talking about testimonials. She admitted that she hadn’t really thought about asking clients for testimonials or reviews before. She had no idea that she was missing a valuable source of free marketing for her business.
Client testimonials prove that your marketing isn’t just a load of unfounded hype. They show potential customers that your services ARE as brilliant as you say they are, maybe even better. They let everyone know that your products DO work. Your coaching sessions can change lives; your cupcakes really do taste amazing…
Of course, we all hesitate when it comes to asking for a testimonial. We appreciate that our customers are busy people and we don’t want to bother them. However, if you’ve done a great job for them, my guess is that they will be only too happy to write a few sentences for you, as long as you ask nicely!
And, when you do receive these testimonials, don’t forget to shout about it. Add them to your website and share them on social media.
You don’t have to be too ‘braggy’ about it. I like to share any new testimonials alongside a wee thank you to the client for taking the time to provide the feedback.
Social media endorsements.
If you’re a LinkedIn user, it is worth asking clients to add a brief testimonial to your profile or endorse you for skills. Whenever anyone is looking for someone with your particular skill set, they will be reassured that you can provide a kick-ass service and they will feel more confident in reaching out to you.
If Facebook is your social media platform of choice, offer customers an incentive to leave a review or to check-in to your location. You could add everyone who reviews or endorses you into a prize draw or offer a freebie to one lucky person who has checked in to your business in the last month.
There is something very powerful about seeing your Facebook friends reviewing a business or checking-in.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am quite particular about pizza (living in Italy has ruined me!). So, if anyone in my network sees me leave a 5* review for a pizzeria, they know it is probably worth checking out.
When I see my fitness fanatic friend check in to a local gym, I know that when I finally get off my lazy butt, that’s probably the best place to check out.
Case studies work in the same way as testimonials but they allow for more detail. You can really go to town on a case study, drawing in your audience with a compelling story and making the most of any before and after pictures you may have.
My advice for using case studies is to look particularly to customers who fit your ideal customer avatar. Tell their story; highlight the problem they had when they came to you and how you helped solve the issue. Others, with similar problems, will be able to relate to the story and will be able to picture you solving their issues too.
Brand logos/celebrity endorsements.
Have you worked with any well-known brands? Are your products stocked in a high-end store? Have you sold any products to celebrities or ‘influencers’?
One aspect of social proof is that people tend to look to authority figures for guidance. If you can show that your product or service has been ‘approved’ by a well-known brand or personality, you will instantly boost your credibility and public interest in your brand.
There are loads of ways you can harness the power of social proof when marketing your business and the best thing is that most of them won’t cost you a penny.
Which one will you try first?
Now, let’s all try to forget that I told you about reading “50 Shades”…
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