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The Power of Using Social Proof in Your Marketing

You’ve discovered a new restaurant in town, had a wonderful meal and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. What happens next? Assuming you’re like most people, you’ll tell your friends. However, if your experience has been really good, you won’t just say “we had a great meal at XYZ Restaurant last night”, you will elaborate explaining in…

Social ProofYou’ve discovered a new restaurant in town, had a wonderful meal and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. What happens next?

Assuming you’re like most people, you’ll tell your friends. However, if your experience has been really good, you won’t just say “we had a great meal at XYZ Restaurant last night”, you will elaborate explaining in detail how you found the restaurant, what happened from the moment you stepped inside, and even share with your friends exactly what you had to eat describing it in detail.

You’ll probably use multiple methods too, such as face-to-face, by text, email, telephone and through social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.

Your excitement and enthusiasm will be infectious and therefore your friends will also tell some of their friends (although not as many as you did and in lesser detail). The message is still travelling…

As a business, it is absolutely essential you understand that if you deliver one excellent experience, you can turn your customer, voluntarily, into a FREE marketing machine.  It has two very profound results:

1) The positive message is being delivered in a personal manner, in words a marketing guru cannot create due to the heartfelt passion and truth that is behind them. This is incredibly powerful.

2) The way in which the message is delivered, together with the source (i.e. the customer) immediately breaks down purchasing barriers. After all, the message is delivered from a highly trusted source and therefore it will be instantly believed and stored. When the receiver of the message is considering eating out, it’s highly likely they will check out the restaurant as they also wish to enjoy a similar experience.

Social proof is so powerful…

Most, if not all of us, have experienced a WOW factor at some time in our lives, which transformed us into a messenger for the business. Of course, we’ve also experienced lousy service or products. A hugely disappointing, negative experience, will also be treated in a similar manner although it’s usually magnified many times over. As the saying goes “when you have a good experience, you tell your friends…when you have a bad experience, you tell everybody.”

As a business owner, do you look at a sale as a single transaction? It’s very easy to forget what is really taking place – the opportunity to enhance or destroy the customer experience.

Behind every transaction there are people. They buy for so many reasons such as convenience, protection, to avoid pain, to gain pleasure, to be the first to own, to be the centre of attention, to feel good, to be the envy of their friends, to fulfil a specific need or want etc. The transaction itself is swapping a product or delivering a service in exchange for money. The value behind the transaction is meeting the want or need of the buyer to help them avoid pain or gain pleasure.

There is an emotional element in any transaction, and this is where your business can gain customers for life, or customers who are prepared to thank and/or praise you publicly. Creating a customer experience that gains this level of response is so important and here’s why…

1) The power of word of mouth marketing is enormous. Having a customer that is prepared to recommend your service/product(s) is huge. You’ve already discovered how people tell others and now, with social media they can spread the word with far greater ease than before. Multiply this many times over and something amazing happens.

2) The power of many raving fans has a multiplier effect. This means that numerous people hear about your products and services through recommendation. Their barriers to purchase have been lowered and usually you generate more business through additional purchases.

3) You can capture user experiences and exploit them further.  By turning recommendations into published testimonials (on your website or within your marketing material), you present a considerably more powerful case when strangers read them. Yet again the power of numbers works in your favour lowering the stranger’s barriers. On many occasions, people have been known to buy purely from reading testimonials, especially if they have something in common with the writer e.g. they are the same sex, same profession, same location etc. Read my separate article on ‘Why testimonials should be included on your website’.

The feeling is almost one of “oh, they’re like me and if they say this then it must be good.” Social proof is so powerful in helping potential buyers make a decision. The more social proof is available to people, the more likely they are to make a quick buying decision, rather than spend more time researching the market or your competitors.

Social proof also helps buyers to feel less worried about making a wrong buying decision. I wrote an article about testimonials and this is where they work in your favour. A good testimonial will be honest and structure prospects expectations. Sometimes a product or service cannot be perfect but it’s still the best there is. An honest testimonial outlining both the good and bad makes the reader believe it. This can be more persuasive than a salesperson or the best copy. It has a ring about it that cuts through the filters and gets inside a prospect at a higher emotional level.

connect-with-your-customersWhat you should do now

If you are not currently doing so, your business should be engaging with your customers on a regular basis. This could be through the use of a newsletter, direct mail, email, a forum on your website, a member section on your website, social media. Social media is superb for engagement and the more your customers comment and say good things, the more visitors will see this, which in turn positively influence them to buy from you.

Your role is to create customers that PAY, SAY and STAY. They pay on time for goods/services, tell others how good you are and return time and again to build on their relationship with you and enjoy the benefits your product or service provides them. The more customers provide testimonials through different media the more powerful is your sales message.

If you fail to engage with your customers then it’s highly unlikely that you would be able to call upon their goodwill to gather testimonials. Find ways to keep in touch, obtain their feedback and ask for their help to develop your products and services so that they meet more of the customer’s needs or wants. Involving customers in this process allows you to work together with a common aim…to serve them better. In return, social proof will provide infinitely better returns on your initial investment.

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