Testimonials and references have always been an important part of the sales process. Customers want to validate they’re making the right decision. So they Google.
The search for social proof is natural. Geoffrey Moore argues in Crossing the Chasm, “Word of mouth is the number one source of information buyers reference, both at the beginning of the sales cycle, to establish their ‘long lists,’ and at the end, when they are paring down their short ones.”
When the stakes are high customers want to confirm they’re making the right decision. And this is your opportunity.
Companies often overlook the importance of developing social proof for their brand. They make their brand pretty, their website functional, and their sales reps effective. But they don’t have a strategy to build social proof.
Social Media Provides Credibility
Many companies struggle with social media. They want to use Facebook and LinkedIn to generate leads, but fail to generate anything of substance.
Social media might not be the best place to generate leads, especially for a B2B brand. But it is a great place to develop social proof.
For example, the Sticky Branding LinkedIn Group is an excellent source of social proof for my brand. The group hasn’t generated many leads, but it has helped me win several deals. With 50,000 members, the group demonstrates my expertise and reach.
Social media is ideal for facilitating customer engagement. Instead of using social media to generate leads, use it to generate social proof.
A few good connections will make your brand stand out.
Kelsey Libert recently wrote in the Harvard Business Review, “You only need a handful of influencers to give the impression that everyone is talking about your brand.”
She continues, “Since we can’t keep an eye on what the entire world is up to, we’re limited to witnessing what our social network says and does. At times, well-connected members within our network can skew our perception of how common an idea or behavior actually is.”
For example, authors and publishers go out of their way to be featured on Oprah’s Book Club. Oprah is a king maker. Her recommendations create international bestsellers.
Who are the influencers in your industry? Who are the people that everyone tunes into? These are the individuals you want to build a relationship with. A few well aligned influencers can make your brand appear to be everywhere.
Facilitate the Binge
When customers are making a major purchase decision they binge. They read your blog, watch your videos, download your white papers, and Google your brand to see what else they can find.
It’s like Netflix. Customers binge before they buy.
You can create a competitive advantage by facilitating the binge. You know your customers are going to Google your brand before they buy. Give them content to find. This is where your social media, public relations, and influencer marketing can deliver a ton of value. These platforms provide the social proof that your brand is as good as you say it is.