Last month we discussed why there are no basements in Oklahoma and the incredible importance of proof in your marketing.
Proof is the missing ingredient on so many websites (and other marketing pieces) that makes the difference between a successful marketing campaign and one that bombs.
Put quite simply… without belief, nobody buys.
If your prospects don’t trust you… if they don’t think your claims are credible… if you come across as being too hypey… they ain’t buying!
I have conversations all the time with clients about the importance of proof. And the conversation always starts out the same way.
I make the suggestions that we need to add more proof to the site, ad, etc.
They respond, “Okay, we’ll add some more testimonials.”
Now, yes, testimonials are a good form of proof. But they’re just the tip of the iceberg.
If all you’re doing is offering testimonials, it’s not enough. There are a boatload of other ways to add proof to your site. And, this month, we’re going to look at 12 of them.
1. Strong Guarantee
A strong guarantee may be one of the most powerful weapons you can use in your marketing arsenal. And, by strong, I mean one that is a step above what the competition offers.
In more and more industries a money back guarantee is pretty much expected. What we’re talking about here is a guarantee that your competitors don’t have the guts to offer and one that, quite frankly, makes you a little queasy to put out there.
A strong guarantee qualifies as proof because it shows how much you believe in your product/service. In fact, for a new business that doesn’t have much in the way of the other forms of proof listed below, a guarantee may be one of the only forms of proof you’ve got.
Copywriting legend Claude Hopkins put it this way…
“No argument in the world can ever compare with one dramatic demonstration.”
Remember the old Timex ads with the slogan “Takes a licking and keeps on ticking”? They tortured their watches to show how much of a beating they could take yet still keep telling time. Those ads took Timex from relative obscurity to the best selling watch around.
Don’t just tell your prospects about the benefits of your products and services… SHOW them.
Sell software? Have a screen capture video that shows exactly what it’s like to use your software.
Have a Membership site? Again, use a screen capture video that gives a behind-the-scenes view of the site so people see exactly what it’s like to be a member.
Are you a Consultant? Offer prospects a video or audio recording that shows what one of your consulting sessions is like.
Service professional? Show how you handle service calls and the checklist your employees go through to make sure the job’s done right.
Sell a product? The infomercial world is built upon demonstrating what it’s like to use their products. You can create your own mini-infomercial that you put on your website and YouTube.
Think of how you can demonstrate what your product or service will actually do for your prospects. It may very well be the best marketing angle you can take.
We all fall into the generalities trap:
- “We’ve helped hundreds of customers save money.”
- “We’re the best at…”
- “We have a high rate of success in…”
- “Our quality control process is second to none…”
Those kinds of claims don’t carry much weight. But put some specifics into them and you change the game.
- “To date, we’ve helped 973 customers save an average of $1,239 a year.”
- “Over the past 4 years, we’ve been ranked as the #1 widget builder in an independent survey of customers in our industry.”
- “We’ve had successful outcomes for 98.3% of the 4234 customers that have come to us in the past 15 months.”
- “We’ve only had 1 error in the last 13,234 calls we’ve handled (which is 5.6x better than the industry average)…
When you back up your claims with specifics, your claims become more tangible and believable to prospects. And that makes specifics another powerful weapon in your “proof” arsenal. (And, by the way, the more specific your testimonials have in them, the more powerful they are.)
Media attention and publicity provides instant credibility to you and your business.
On websites these days, it’s fairly common to see the “Media Wall” which shows off the logos of every TV station, newspaper, magazine, etc. that a company has been featured on/in.
If you get media coverage, be sure to embed and/or link to the interview, press release, story, etc. on your site.
Yes, media coverage can do a great job at giving you a short term spike of traffic and sales.
However, over the long term, featuring past media appearances on your site provides instant proof that your company is doing something interesting/worth talking about. And that can provide the extra credibility prospects need to do business with you as opposed to one of your less media savvy competitors.
If your kid gets sick and complains that her ear hurts, would you take her to a dermatologist or a pediatrician?
Nope. Not a trick question. You’d obviously pick the pediatrician because they specialize in taking care of sick children.
Specialized training and/or expertise in a specific segment of a market bring added proof and credibility to the table.
So instead of being another accountant, you’re the accountant that specializes in helping chiropractors.
Instead of being another sales coach, you’re the sales coach that helps senior level sales executives at manufacturing companies with $15 million or more in revenue.
You may very well find being a big fish in a smaller pond, combined with the credibility you get by being a specialist, is exactly what you need to take your sales to the next level.
Have you and/or your business won any awards? Have you gotten any special recognition for the work you do?
If you have, don’t hide it from your prospects! Shout it from the rooftops (or at least feature it prominently on your website and marketing materials!).
Awards from 3rd party organizations that recognize your excellence for what you do provides a big credibility bump to the claims you make so be sure you highlight them.
7. Admitting Faults
Candor and honesty can go a long way to establishing your credibility.
Point out a potential drawback of your product/service, tell prospects that it may not be for everyone, understate your claims.
This may seem counterintuitive, but it can generate a lot of goodwill and trust with your prospects.
So try admitting some faults and see if it gives you a bump in conversions.
Have there been any research or studies that support the claims you make/back up the benefits of the product/service you offer?
Citing research from well known universities, organizations, etc. can give your product/service a nice credibility bump.
For example, let’s say you sell a new type of eyeglass lens that provides clearer, sharper vision and the technology was developed by some researchers at Harvard University. Mentioning “developed by researchers at Harvard” in your marketing for the lens will give them more credibility in the, well, eyes, of your prospects.
Research from 3rd parties will help prove your case more effectively than you trying to toot your own horn.
9. Noteworthy Clients
This is similar to media appearances, but uses existing clients as proof. If you’ve worked with big, notable, respected companies, you can feature their logos on your website (provided you have their permission of course!) to demonstrate your credibility.
Basically you’re conveying the idea that if these other companies have trusted our products/services, then your prospects should too!
Scarcity is one of Robert Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion.
When people perceive the availability of an offer is limited (by time, supply, etc.) it will increase demand.
It also demonstrates proof. When you have (truthful) reasons why you have a limited supply of your product/service, it gives the perception that it’s a popular product/service and it must be good.
11. Social Media Proof
Social Proof is another one of Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion. And social media is a great way to demonstrate social proof for your company online.
Highlighting a large number of followers, retweets, connections, mentions, reviews, etc. you have across various social media sites demonstrates popularity. It shows that other people like what you’re doing and validates your product/service.
There’s safety in numbers and when a prospect sees that they’d be in good company by using your product/service, it can provide them the shortcut/cover they need to make the decision to use you.
12. The Reason Why
You have to give prospects a reason why they should buy from you. Part of that is to give them a reason why to believe the claims you’re making.
Providing that reason why can take a boring, ho-hum kind of claim and give it some teeth that’ll provide the extra proof a prospect needs to pull out their wallet.
So it’s not “we’re having a sale this weekend”, it’s “we’re having a sale this weekend because our supplier sent us 50% more widgets than we ordered and we’re trying to get rid of them quickly.”
It’s not that “our widget is better than the competition’s”, it’s “our widget is better than the competition’s because of our patented manufacturing process that makes it 57% stronger…”
Give prospects a reason why to believe the claims you make to help prove your case.
Profiting With Proof
Making claims on your site that aren’t backed up by proof can come off as gimmicky, insincere, or worse… all hype but no substance.
As I said at the top… without belief, nobody buys.
You now have 12 ways to provide belief (in addition to testimonials). Pick a few, put them on your site and prosper!