Your Best Customer’s Journey Likely Begins (And Continues) Here
Maybe you remember the social pressure you felt when you were young. Pressure to try things… pressure to fit in… pressure to be “cool” like the rest of the kids.
When you’re young, some social pressure can work to push you in undesirable directions… but some may have exerted positive influence. If your friends, or the kids you admired, were making As or setting sports records for your school, you might’ve felt positive social pressure to work toward achieving those things yourself.
The truth is this: we never completely grow out of our desire to “fit in.” We want to be part of the “in” crowd, and it influences our decisions on what to do, where to live, where to work, and how to behave.
And what to buy.
The best companies understand this, and they use their digital presence to take advantage of this powerful driver of consumer behavior.
They use testimonials, reviews, and other forms of “social proof” to show that buying their products and services is a “cool” choice!
Social Proof Is A Powerful Force In Buying Behavior
Here’s an illustration, based on a true story, which helps illustrate the power of social proof.
Imagine this: you get a call from a friend, and she invites you to dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. She’s heard good things about this place from her friends (positive “social proof!”) and wants to try it out.
You arrive to find not a single car in the parking lot.
Suddenly, the “social proof” has turned negative!
The sign says “OPEN”… but the restaurant has no customers. You think to yourself, “They’re just open and hopin’ – hmm – I’m not sure about this place!”
You might even have had take-out from this very restaurant, and thought it quite good… but the lack of business gives you pause. It wouldn’t be uncommon for worry to set in. Why are there no customers? Might I even get sick eating here? What do the customers who AREN’T here know that I don’t know?
You and your friend decide to try a different Chinese restaurant – one that’s busy, with people waiting for tables.
The “proof” you collected when you ordered take-out from the first restaurant was overwhelmed by the “social proof” you discovered in their parking lot!
The fact is, people want to feel good about their purchasing decisions. They want to feel at ease. When they see others buying a product or service (and especially when they read other customers’ rave reviews), they’re much more comfortable making the same purchase.
Few customers want to be the first (or only) one to try something!
Use Your Digital Presence To Get Great Testimonials
Look at business websites, and you’ll see three basic kinds of testimonials (endorsements).
- Expert testimonials. It’s great when a business can find a credible, well-known expert in their field to endorse their product or service. For instance, if you write an eBook on a facet of psychology, an endorsement from Dr. Phil would be solid gold; he’s well-known, and highly-regarded. One expert endorsement might be worth several other testimonials!
- Celebrity testimonials. These are very interesting… because fans trust celebrities they admire (often more than logic would suggest they should!). Get a celebrity to endorse you, and they bring an entire fan base with them.
- User or Customer testimonials. Experts and celebs are often out of the reach of small businesses who nevertheless offer great products and services. But strong testimonials from customers – normal, everyday people who’ve used your products or services – can be extremely effective. Your ideal prospects can relate to normal people… they’re not “made of money,” and they have the same expectations and resistances as the rest of us.
Maybe one expert or celebrity testimonial could be worth twenty great raves from customers… but though you might not be able to get the celebrity endorsement, you can get those twenty customer testimonials!
Once you’ve delighted a customer, ask for a review or testimonial. Make it easy for them to review your work: send them a brief, specific, 4-5 question survey from which you can pull the testimonial for use in your digital marketing efforts.
This process can (and should) be automated. Your digital marketing consultant at Max Height Web Solutions knows how to make this an easy, hassle-free process for you and for your client.
For instance, you’ll start by identifying your business’ key differentiators – the things you do better than your competition (and that your customers love), and phrase your survey questions to provide open-ended responses that highlight those precise attributes of your business.
Or, you might want your customers to help you overcome any objections you know your prospects are likely to raise. For instance, say you’re the highest-value (but not necessarily the lowest-price) option your prospects would have. You’d love to have testimonials that overcome the price objection… so ask your customers to describe their feelings about the value your business brings them.
“Acme wasn’t the lowest price,” a typical response might say, “but when we saw how much new revenue we generated after doing business with Acme – many multiples of what we spent on their service – I knew we’d made the right call.”
You don’t have to use every word of what customers write about you. Pull out the “stinger” – the juicy nugget of the review – and use that in your marketing efforts.
Say the customer writes this:
“I saw Acme’s ad in the trade magazine, and even though I’d been doing business with Brand X, I thought I’d give them a try. I went there and found their offices to be attractive and their people were generally friendly and pleasant. I didn’t have to wait too long to meet with a consultant. After her presentation, I ended up thinking it’d be okay to give them a shot. So I talked to our purchasing department and our executive committee, and got the green light. One of my colleagues wasn’t convinced, because he is always just looking for a bargain-basement deal. Acme wasn’t the lowest price. But when we saw how much new revenue we generated after doing business with Acme – many multiples of what we spent on their service – I knew we’d made the right call. In fact, my bargain-hunting colleague ended up buying me lunch! I had the ribeye steak with finger potatoes and asparagus. It was good, though I’d have to say the meat was a little on the tough side. But overall, not bad. Thanks Acme!”
You get the point… some of what the customer writes or says may not be relevant to the point of the testimonial (in this case, helping overcome the price objection)… so you don’t need to use every word.
Use only the best reviews in your marketing materials… and give those reviews five stars. Even if your customer survey doesn’t ask for a star rating (and it isn’t always a great idea to use a star rating), prospects have seen other review and testimonial sites which use the star system and will be subconsciously drawn to five-star reviews.
Other Ways To Leverage The Power Of Social Proof
Always keep your social media sites up-to-date, and make sure your best reviews and testimonials are there for prospects to see (and be influenced by). Get enough great reviews, and you’ll notice an up-tick in “engagement” – the degree to which people like, share, and comment on the things they see on your page.
People buy from people they know, like, and trust… and social media is a solid-gold way to build these attributes of a strong customer relationship. When someone engages in your social media business page, they share the good news about your firm with all their friends… some of whom will share it with their friends… and so forth. You may be aware of the potential revenue-producing power of single “viral” video or post. And your prospects and clients can get that power rolling with a single click each.
Go for the “crowd effect.” If you have five thousand “subscribers” to your site, even if those are free subscriptions, trumpet that fact. The power of being able to leverage “mass appeal” can be huge. “Five thousand happy subscribers can’t be wrong!”
Assemble a portfolio of high-profile client companies (imagine a row of easily-recognized logos on your website) who’ve done business with you. The not-so-subtle implication for the prospect will be “if all these great companies have done business with Acme, they must be good!”
From our youth, we’re conditioned to follow the crowd. We always want to be in with the “cool” group! Your digital marketing consultant at Max Height Web Solutions can help you leverage the power of reviews, testimonials, and other forms of “social proof” to make the case that doing business with you is one of the coolest decisions your prospects could make.