Put yourself in your customers' shoes. If you see an advert claiming "We're the best!" do you automatically believe it? Or do you look for justification?
As business owners and managers, it's second nature to seek proof. After all, you wouldn't jump into a business deal based on words alone; you want tangible proof that what you're seeing is the real deal.
That's why advertising alone is no longer enough. These days, there's so much marketing 'noise' out there that customers seek clarification and proof. Which means business owners have to work a little harder to make their marketing efforts stick.
The trick is to provide immediate 'proof points' to back up your marketing messages such as testimonials, customer reviews or reliable statistics. Max Clark of Marketecture penned a great post earlier this week on how to start building brand proof points, in which she explained the need for proof and why it's so important:
"Brand proof points are increasing in importance as people look for more authenticity in marketing messages. After being bombarded by hundreds of product claims day after day, we've become jaded. According to a 2015 study by Nielsen, we prefer to rely on our own experiences, doing business with brands we know, like, and trust."
(See what she did there? She immediately backed up her thinking by referencing Nielsen, a trusted marketing source)
According to Max, when customers find a company they like, they tell others. So instead of "saturating the airwaves with marketing messages", it's important to encourage repeat buyers and grow loyal brand advocates by adding proof.
Max lists a number of tried and tested proof points that can support your marketing messages by providing instant verification, such as:
- References, eg. from a former client, supplier or employer
- Customer testimonials
- Certification or qualifications
- Proprietary research
- Trial feedback
- Unique technology features
- Product reviews
- Statistics, eg. market share validation
- Quotes from industry influencers
- Third party approvals
- Free trials
Any and all of these proof points add instant verification, which contributes to that all important brand ambition: trust.
As part of the journey, Max recommends choosing the elements that will most appeal to your specific target audience. For instance if you work in finance, your audience would most likely seek facts and figures, whereas event managers and PR firms would benefit from awards or positive feedback from a well-known venue.
It's also worth mixing it up. Max recommends a combination of emotional and rational evidence: "The best proof points combine both, eg. a customer testimonial telling their own story, explaining how your product or service has helped them personally, backed up by the hard facts about ROI. So get creative about how you communicate your stats and facts!"
Here at UBC we harness a number of proof points. We are a B2B organisation working with companies of all sizes right across the business spectrum, many of whom have utilised our workspace services for years. So we let our clients do the talking through published testimonials and also through our Refer a Friend scheme. After all, word of mouth referrals are one of the best forms of marketing out there, so the more we can help it along the better for all concerned.
You can find out more about how to build word of mouth referrals here.