Endorsements, Stamps of Approval, and Social Proof

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Almost every marketing effort has one ultimate goal in mind – to increase sales. Each individual component or strategy might have its own metric. But at the end of the day, all of it is aimed at generating new revenue.

But what most marketers are realizing in today’s business climate is that consumers are less and less trusting of a company’s claims. They’re onto us. They know when they’re being marketed to, and they don’t like it.

That’s where endorsements, social proof, and a whole bunch of other strategies I will lump under “Stamps of Approval” come in handy. These are things marketers and do and encourage to help sell savvy consumers on the value your products and services offer.

They are all marketing techniques, but what makes them different is that they use third-party recommendations to do the marketing for you. Here are just a few you might consider:

  1. Customer testimonials – text or video
     
  2. Success stories – more detailed content about one customer and their outcomes
     
  3. Customer ratings – a la Yelp or Amazon
     
  4. Celebrity endorsements – these can be professionals in your field, industry experts, athletes, or pop-culture figureheads
     
  5. Industry or technology verification – join or apply to be recognized by an industry organization, ie. Google Trusted Vendor
     
  6. Press coverage
     
  7. BBB or Consumer Reports – consumer-focused accreditation
     
  8. Showcase the number of customers who purchased or well-known clients

Psychological Hacks for Marketers – Part 9

Welcome to the latest installation of our weekly blog series – Psychological Hacks for Marketers. Each week we will introduce a new shortcut that the consumer’s brand takes and how the crafty marketer can take advantage. Last week’s topic was Outcome Bias.

This week we are discussing:

Bandwagon Effect

The bandwagon effect in marketing is the increase in likelihood of purchase based on the number of other people who have already purchased (or their desire to purchase) the same item.

In its simplest form, it’s the “cool factor” – the tendency for consumers to want something because other people want it. It explains the trends and the fads, most popular colors and styles, the products that sell out on day 1.

But the bandwagon effect can also be seen in more basic forms of social proof. For example, this effect can help explain why companies show off testimonials and reviews and ratings on their sites. Other consumers are validating the claims that marketers make.

Take advantage of the bandwagon effect by:

  • If you have a high number of customers or products sold, show a running tally, like the old “Billions and billions sold” campaign by McDonald’s. It’s an indication of popularity.
     
  • If you sell physical products, under-supply the market so that your items sell out. Offer pre-orders and allow people to sign up for updates when something sold out becomes available again to create the feeling that something is in high demand.
     
  • When something is in limited supply, tell your consumers they have to act fast or miss out. Again, this makes your offering look popular and in demand.
     
  • Allow and display user reviews like Amazon and Yelp. Lots of reviews mean lots of other customers chose you over your competitors.

If you can use your marketing to show potential customers how popular your products are, you’ll sell more of them.

Stay tuned next week for another installment of the Psychology Hacks series. Have a suggestion? Let us know.

Underrated Series – Part 4

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Welcome to the latest edition of our new weekly blog series, The Underrated Series. Each week, we will highlight an important, often underrated component of marketing success.

Last week’s underrated topic was product design.

What are we underrating this week? Social proof.

You likely think that your product or service is amazing. It’s got loads of value and it’s definitely worth the price you charge for it. Right?

But that really doesn’t matter. Because customers know that you think it’s amazing. You have an incentive to tell them it’s amazing. That’s what marketing is, and customers are wary of marketing.

But what happens when someone who has no incentive to tell them it’s amazing does?

We call that social proof, and it’s one of the most underrated tools the marketer has in his tool belt.

Social proof encompasses many different things. But what they all have in common is the goal. That goal is demonstrating to customers that your marketing claims are true by bringing in third-party sources.

It could be trust seals, like BBB Accreditation or industry certification. It could be sales figures, ie. over 1 billion sold. It could be satisfaction rates from customer surveys. It could be online reviews or testimonials. It could be a vibrant online forum or social media outlet.

It could be a combination of all or some of the above. But whatever it is, it’s proof to the market place that your claims are true. As consumers, we look to others like us to confirm our purchases. And strong social proof can help overcome the fear inherent in making a new purchasing decision.

Have something you think deserves more attention? Send us your suggestions for the Underrated Series using the comments below or submit them here.

Is Your Business a Scam?

You know the answer to that question is “No”. At least I hope you do.

But your customers don’t know that. And if this is the first time someone is considering buying something from you, they are asking themselves that question before making that decision.

Acknowledging the fact that they are asking that question is the first step to helping them answer it. Too often we are so locked into our own perspective of the companies we manage or market, that we refuse to see things from the customer’s perspective.

So how do you help them answer that question?

  1. Social Proof – yesterday’s post on social proof explains how companies can use the actions of others to influence prospective customers. If others are doing it and enjoying it, it must not be a scam.
     
  2. Third Party Trust – the Better Business Bureau is a great example of a third party organization that can let people know you are a legitimate business.
     
  3. Press – getting positive media coverage is a great way to tell people that you are who you say you are.
     
  4. Free Trials – get rid of the fear entirely by letting them “try before they buy”.

Everyone in the world knows what it feels like to get ripped off. And if they have never bought from your company before, they worry that you just might rip them off. The 4 solutions above are just a few of the ways that you can help them overcome that fear, leading to more sales.

What is Social Proof?

What is social proof and why does it matter for your business?

To explain, let’s look at two examples. Let’s say there are two, nearly identical companies that make and ship nutritious, homemade granola bars. To set themselves apart in such a crowded market, both champion their unique ingredients, freshness, and specific health benefits.

The prices are the same. And without knowing anything else about them, you’d not be able to distinguish one company from the other.

Here’s where they differ:

The first company has a Facebook pages with thousands of fans talking about how much they love the product. They have written and video testimonials featured prominently on their website. They feature a counter on their website that shows how many bars they are selling in real time, and the number is ticking up constantly.

The second company has none of that. Their website just shows the product and the price, and lets you checkout. They offer their own backstory, and provide detailed descriptions of each bar, but it all comes from the company.

The first company is using social proof. The second is not.

And if you’re like most people, given the option between the two, you will choose to purchase from the first company.

Why? Because human beings will conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the correct behavior. That’s social proof.

When we see others are doing something, and more than that, they’re excited or happy or satisfied in those actions, we’ll follow. And companies can take advantage of that psychology in order to help marketing their products and services.

Positive reviews, social media activity, proof of popularity or demand are all ways to employ social proof for your business. Show prospective customers that your offerings are popular among others, and you will help to convince them that buying from you is the right decision.