One of the biggest barriers to clinching a sale/contract/booking for any business, whether they’re selling to businesses or consumers, is fear. People are wary of the unknown and fearful of making a mistake.

By using social proof in your marketing, you can help to break down this barrier and reassure potential clients that you’re the right person for the job.

What is social proof?

Social proof – sometimes known as ‘informal social influence’ – is when we humans look to other people for guidance about how to behave in unfamiliar situations. We will look for cues and clues from others about what is likely to be the right course of action or decision.

In marketing terms for your training business, social proof is about showing potential clients that you have a vote of confidence or endorsement from someone who has/had similar training needs. It’s about showing that other people have engaged your services and benefitted from the decision.

Forms of social proof and how to use them

Social proof can come in lots of different forms. With social media, for example, every like, share, comment, or retweet is a gesture of social proof about your presence in the marketplace and what you have to say.

Other forms of social proof that you might want to gather and use in your marketing include:

1. Endorsements

Social proof sign

An endorsement is an act of saying that you approve of or support something or someone.

LinkedIn offers an endorsement feature where people who know you can endorse your skills. This tells others that you can do what you say you can do. You can add skills that you would like your network to endorse to your profile and select ‘Adjust endorsement settings’ to make sure that people can leave endorsements.

You will often see celebrity endorsements in the world of advertising where a famous person says they use and like a particular product. You could adapt this approach by asking an influencer in your network to endorse one of your courses or invite them to review your training. Another idea is to invite them to run a social media takeover – for example, on your Facebook page or Instagram account – where they share some hints and tips with your audience.

Many organisations also tap into the power of influencers by asking experts in their field to take part in a Twitter chat or Q&A. This is a subtle way of showing that you are seen as the peer of someone who is respected within your industry.

If someone does mention your training business online, I recommend posting a quick reply – perhaps in the comments section of the blog or on social media – to say “Grateful for the mention” or “Honoured to be featured”.

2. Testimonials/recommendations

Testimonials or recommendations come from satisfied customers who are happy to share how pleased they are with your service. Typically, a client will accept that testimonials will be used as social proof for marketing purposes, but you should always double-check that they are happy for you to use it in your marketing.

LinkedIn has a ‘Recommendations’ feature that allows you to reach out to people in your network for a written recommendation that will be published on your profile. This is a helpful way to show potential clients at a glance that other professionals are willing to recommend your training services.

3. Case studies

A case study is more in-depth than a testimonial or endorsement. The idea is to show how you were able to meet the training needs of a specific client and offer them a solution that benefited their organisation. Any case studies should resonate with your target audience.

Case studies can be featured in a dedicated section of your website, linked to on social media, used in print brochures, promoted in press releases, and more.

4. Logos of professional bodies

If you’re a member of an organisation that’s recognised and respected within your industry or you have qualifications or accreditation, I recommend adding the logos for the appropriate bodies to your website. Logos act like a stamp or seal of approval from professional organisations and show some of your credentials at a glance.

5. Media mentions

Have you been asked to comment on a news story as an expert in your field or even written a blog for a popular website like the Huffington Post? If you have, you might want to add an ‘As featured in’ section to the Home page of your website where you include the logos of any media outlets that have featured your content or opinions.

6. Reviews

When you say it, it's marketing. When your customers say it, it's social proof. Quote by Andy Crestodina

People are heavily influenced by reviews of products and/or services. When looking through search engine results pages, for example, searchers are far more likely to click through to businesses that have star ratings and Google reviews than those without reviews. Good reviews can also help you to stand out on platforms like Facebook.

Try to remember to ask your clients to leave a review about your training services on your Google My Business page or Facebook business page. Again, this is an at-a-glance form of social proof.

7. Milestones

Milestones are a subtle but powerful form of social proof, which is why Facebook includes a ‘milestones’ feature on business pages. If you can tell potential clients that you’ve been in business for ten years, won an award, or just worked with your hundredth training client, it all helps to show that you know your stuff and that other people rate your services.

How important is social proof to you? Are you using social proof in your marketing? It would be great if you could leave your thoughts in the Comments section below. If you try out any of these ideas, do let me know how you get on.

If you’re looking for other ideas to help you re-energize your training business and boost your marketing, don’t forget to grab your free copy of my report, Marketing strategies that work for today’s environment

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