Key things to remember about social proof for professional services business

Social proof suggests that people have a tendency to conform to the actions of others and believe those actions are the correct behaviour to follow.

To put it simply, it’s in our nature to want to fit in with the crowd – so people look to others for help with decision making.

And when it comes to buying decisions where money is at stake, social proof can be a very powerful tool to attract potential clients and spark demand for your service offering.

But how do I apply it to my marketing?

Well you start by collecting evidence from your past clients that shows how you’ve enabled their success.

Once you've gathered the proof points, the next step is to present those pieces of evidence to potential clients in your marketing materials.

So let’s dive into the three key things to remember about social proof.

#1 Third party endorsements are more trustworthy

The first thing to remember about using social proof is that its purpose is to instil trust in your target audience.

For obvious reasons, there is a bias that comes with promoting your own services. However when you feature a testimonial from someone that is impartial, it's much more believable than if the message came from you.

Third party endorsements carry more weight and help to assure potential clients of your credibility. It also gives them confidence that you can deliver the results you are promising in your messaging.

#2 Social proof comes in many different forms

So we’ve established that social proof is a powerful tool to build trust and that we should be using it in our marketing materials, but what forms can it take?

To give you some examples of social proof, it can include:

  • testimonials from clients
  • case studies
  • client satisfaction survey results
  • logos of your clients
  • general statistics relating to your business eg how many clients you have served

Once you have gathered pieces of social proof, it’s important to sprinkle them throughout your marketing materials. So to name a few, your presentation decks, proposals, social media posts, and website. Essentially any piece of communication potential clients come into contact with.

#3 Highlight the key benefits of your services

When it comes to finding the most compelling pieces of social proof, be sure to focus on those that demonstrate your offering’s key benefits. This is important to remember because potential clients really only care about the results you can get for them.

Now one of the most impactful types of social proof you can use (and probably the easiest to get started with) is client testimonials.

Although you could ask clients for testimonials at any point, it’s good to weave testimonial gathering into your project delivery process. So get into the routine of asking clients for a testimonial at the end of each project.

Timing is quite important here – when you ask for the testimonial after a project comes to a close, you will be more likely to capture the emotional benefits the client is feeling (providing you actually delivered great results for them).

Speaking of results, be sure to ask for testimonials in a way that encourages people to talk about the outcome of your services as opposed to more general areas such as your ability to meet deadlines.

So ask questions like “how has your life/business improved since we worked on x project together?”. The goal is to get them to talk about the problem they were experiencing before working with you, and how their situation has now transformed for the better.

A final tip I want to share – ask the client if they would be willing to post their testimonial on your LinkedIn personal profile as a recommendation. That way you can copy it from there and use it in other marketing materials too.

Conclusion and action point

To conclude, social proof is one of the best tools at your disposal to make your marketing materials more compelling. So have a think about the different forms of social proof you can use to promote your services.

But remember, focus on the ones that prove the results you enable for your clients. It’s this information that will sway them if they are on the fence about buying your services.

Finally, your action point for today is to reach out to three past clients and request a testimonial. But be sure to ask in a way that encourages them to talk about specific results.