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social proof


20: More Trust, More Sales. (Part 3)


In the last email, we talked about including your customers in your brand story. When they're part of the story, they're more inclined to believe it and see your brand as a natural component of their lifestyle.

Since I have a lot to share with you on the third point, I'll just jump into it!
You can increase trust in your brand by...

3. Working with other people to promote your product.

Are you familiar with the concept of social proof?

It's a concept that utilizes the power of other people to add another level of trustworthiness to your brand. When we look at other people doing something, it becomes proof that it's okay for us to do the same thing too.

In this context, when your customers see other people using your products, they think it's fine to use your product too.

Even if a brand has personality, it's still not considered a real person. There's still a lot of anxiety involved in trusting something that you can't put a face to.

But to counteract this, a lot of brands are already using social proof in various forms, which I think you're familiar with:

  1. User social proof (screenshots of WhatsApp conversations, reposts of photos)
  2. Expert social proof (getting an expert in the industry to vouch for the product)
  3. Celebrity social proof (brand endorsements, celebrity Instagram reviews)
  4. Friend social proof ("150 of your friends like this too.")
  5. Crowd social proof ("Join 100,000 other people just like you!)

It's interesting how there are so many categories right? All these forms of social proof been used to great effect.

The next time you're about to buy something over the Internet, try to find out if you feel okay or anxious about buying. If it's the former, it's very likely that you found some sort of social proof to ease your anxieties.

So how can you use this concept to your brand's advantage? The method that I'm recommending focus mainly on No. 1, 3, and 4. Let's look at it step by step.

Step 1: What exactly are you achieving by using social proof? 

You're essentially working with other people to promote your brand to your target market. The promotion should increase the trustworthiness of your brand, rather than just creating 'noise'.

Step 2: Who should you work with to use social proof?

The most obvious answer would be celebrities. The second most obvious answer would be influencers / bloggers / famous personalities. The third not-so-obvious answer? Normal people like you and me.

The first two groups of people have large followings, on social media or otherwise. It's logical to maximize our investment and efforts by prioritizing these people.
But normal people like you and me are prime candidates for social proof too, especially if we represent a target market. Why?

  1. For every celebrity and influencer, there are tens of thousands of normal people. So many people to work with and so many untapped potential.
  2. Since not all brands will invest in these people, they will feel special when you devote your attention to them.
  3. These people can accept the products for the products' sake, compared to the first two groups who would most likely be unimpressed (since they receive a lot of products from other brands too!).
  4. You'd be able to get more meaningful feedback and be able to work on your product until it's perfect.
  5. It's more likely that they would tell your friends about your products = word-of-mouth marketing.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't work with celebrities and influencers at all. But marketing is part of their income / business. To a young brand, paying these super influential people to promote your brand may be too expensive!

I mentioned that a condition to working with all three groups is that they must be able to attract your target market (AKA the perfect customers for your brand).

Why should they be able to this? Let's look at the reasoning:

  • Once you properly establish a relationship with your target market, they will buy without much fuss. Because the product is designed with them in mind.
  • On the contrary, no matter how much effort you throw to people OUTSIDE your target market, they will not buy. They're not feeling it.
  • If you insist on converting them into customers, they will set the terms. They will make the demands. This is where they will ask you to change the product / compromise on quality or price.
  • If you're feeling desperate at that moment, you will succumb. I've been there. Money makes a convincing argument. We've got to pay the bills after all.
  • And when you deal with people who just can't appreciate all the passion that goes into your product, it can be a huge downer. Don't do that to yourself.
It's better to please 10 people who care about your product than to bargain with 100 who don't.

Step 3: how do you get social proof? 

First and foremost, you have to introduce them to your product.

  • You can send them free samples. Mini versions of your actual products.
  • You can send them the actual products for free. Depending on the cost, you can reach a lot or a few. Either way, it'll still make an impression.
  • You can send them a coupon for the product / service. This lets them redeem it at a later date. To make it even more risk-free, include a coupon for a friend/family so they'll have someone to keep them company.
  • If you're about to launch your product for the first time, you can give them a special, introductory price. But make sure to never have it priced that low again! 

After they've used your product, personally ask them what they think about it.

THIS IS IMPORTANT Don't send an impersonal email. Use this opportunity to show that you care and that you're dedicated to improving the product.

Don't impose a condition for "good testimonials only" before sending them your product. This is the quickest way to get on the customer's bad side. In fact, don't force them to provide any testimonials at all! 

Just politely request them for a testimonial IF AND ONLY IF they're happy with your product and customer service. And here's the good part --> Explain to them that you're just starting out and value their opinion in order to make your products better.

If they're not happy, ask them on how you can improve their experience. There's so much potential to convert them into a returning customer at this point. 

The testimonial you request can be either/both of these two forms:

  • Ask for a word-only testimonial and ask for permission to use their name. You can then include the testimonial in graphics for your website and social media accounts.
  • Ask them to tag you with photos of your product and ask for their permission to repost the photos.

Working with other people is not just advantageous for your brand, it's also practically necessary. Ideally, your brand should have mutually-beneficial relationships with many other parties. A symbiosis of some sort. But you'll need to be intentional with it so that it won't just be another 'hack'.