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This blog post introduces two influence techniques that will help you to increase the power of your marketing messages and close more sales.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been talking to a number of clients about how to sell their products and services. I’ve also been reading a book about influence and persuasion. I’d like to share a couple of the most salient points from those sources with you so that you can benefit too.

Social Proof Marketing Strategy

Firstly, I’d like to draw your attention to a concept called social proof. This is one of the most important persuasion ‘levers’. Even if you’ve heard of social proof before it’s probably worth a minute of your time given its ubiquitous use across marketing and sales as the social proof marketing strategy.

Social proof is the idea that humans tend to follow the behaviour of other humans. The logic says, “If lots of other people are enjoying this product then I will probably enjoy this product too.” There is a great deal of evidence to prove that the social proof marketing strategy works and that sales follow.

There are countless adverts that use the social proof marketing strategy, for example telling you that a particular product is the “UK’s No.1 Brand”, or “90% of women surveyed said that X gave them younger looking skin”, or even, “8 out of 10 cats prefer Whiskers”. All of these messages are designed to make you think that the majority of people buy this product.

Now, that’s all great for large brands that can legitimately claim to be the most popular brand in the UK, or run expensive tests with hundreds of participants to create advantageous statistics. So how can smaller organisations, or even start-ups take advantage of the social proof marketing strategy?

The answer lies in customer testimonials. Testimonials are a really important way of allowing future customers to hear what existing customers say. They help to prove that other people already buy and benefit from this product or service.

At its most simple, a social proof marketing strategy testimonial could take the form of a few lines of text displayed on your website, or in your marketing materials. A more sophisticated (and more persuasive) solution would be a video of a customer saying positive things, or even using the product or service, and hopefully smiling and enjoying it. These kinds of social proof marketing strategy images and can be highly persuasive, and deserve to be highlighted in the early stages of the marketing process, for example within the first one or two pages a customer will see on your website.

Social Similarity

Social similarity takes the social proof to the next level. Social similarity says that we are most persuaded by people who are most like us. Studies have been done that show some incredible results – we even consider people who share the same name as us to be more likeable!

To maximise the persuasiveness of social proof try to match the testimonial with the type of person you are trying to persuade. For example, use a testimonial from an elderly person when trying to sell to other elderly people. You might choose to have different landing pages for different product lines because you know they appeal to different people. You might even choose to re-label near-identical products to appeal to different demographics. Diet Coke and Coke Zero are basically the same product, the former marketed towards women, and the latter marketed towards men.

Conclusions

On its own, the social proof marketing strategy and social similarity persuasion techniques are unlikely to transform your sales. However, once you have your social proof marketing strategy in place you can feel confident that you’re using some of the best practices that the fields of influence and persuasion have to offer.