When you’re looking to buy a product or service, do you ask people around you for their thoughts and opinions? Do you read product reviews before you click “buy” on a website?
Just how important are other people’s opinions in your life?
If you’re like most people, your answer to the question above is probably “very important.”
It only makes sense then that this issue is also important as you market your business. Knowing what others think of you, your product or service and what they say to others is paramount in not only saying the right things to elicit a favorable response (that they buy from you), but to also head off any unwanted and unwarranted “bad press.”
As humans, we look to others for social validation – that what we’re doing is the “right” thing. In his wildly successful book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” author Robert Chialdini states, “When we are uncertain about what to do we automatically look to other people to guide us. And we do this automatically and unconsciously.”
So why do we need social validation for seemingly unimportant decisions such as a book purchase? It’s simple – we want to feel safe in our decision. Obviously, the higher the risk, the more we assess how what we want meshes with what others in our social circles think and want. “I learned a long time ago that I could waste a lot of time and in some cases money if I ignored recommendations by fellow consumers on sites such as Netflix, Amazon and iTunes,” said Bakari Alil II, Ph.D.
Michael Britt, Ph.D., a noted psychologist who publishes the popular “Psych Files” podcast, concurs by mentioning how quickly we evaluate the worth of a book based on the reviews of other customers. This underscores the importance of product reviews and ratings. In terms of marketing your business, one bad review can send prospective clients and customers fleeing. How you respond to that negative feedback can bring them back. That topic, however, is for a different article.
Another less obvious way to convey social validation is to note which products or services tend to be the most popular. Since we unconsciously look for approval for our decisions, highlighting the most popular choice almost eliminates the need for prospective customers to read reviews. You’ve already informed them that they are (or aren’t) making the most popular choice. And, the most popular option isn’t always the most expensive.
For example, imagine you own a website that sells plastic zebras. You may have many different styles and colors of zebras as well as optional accessories to dress up a new plastic zebra. If you note on your site that, “90% of customers love the black-striped zebras with the pink bells added on,” you will likely see a spike in the purchasing of black-striped zebras and the optional pink bells. Is this manipulative? Not really, you’re simply providing purchasing information that a prospect is hoping to see. You make the buying decision easier for the 95 percent of people who need social validation before they make a decision.
Perhaps not surprisingly, only five percent of people don’t necessarily need social validation before they decide something. These people are considered “initiators.” Similar to early adopters, initiators are those people who make informed decisions without the need for any social validation. This rare group contains the leaders – the ones others look to when making a decision. In your group of friends, are you known as the “go to” person with information that can help someone make a choice? Or are you part of the “imitator” group – the 95 percent – who look toward others for advice? You may be wondering if you can switch between these two groups. Not really. We all have a preferred style, although that’s not to say we can’t step up and be an initiator at times. But we mostly work within our comfort zone, whichever style that is.
Given that social validation is so rampant, it only seems natural to talk about it in terms of business marketing. Certainly reviews and client/customer testimonials serve this purpose. However, social media is playing a larger role in social validation each day. If you’ve visited almost any website lately, you’ve probably seen the various buttons you can click on to “like,” “recommend,” “share” or “+1” the site. This is social validation at its most basic form. Something else you might see on that same site is the “Tweet This” button. Yes, if clicked on a message is sent to all that person’s followers on Twitter. But it also shows a count of how many people have tweeted the site/post/article, etc. Again, social validation. Seeing a number is a great motivator for the 95 percent who come after the five percent who’s been there first (and already Tweeted).
Blogging is another avenue for social validation. If your prospective customers are online, you can use a blog to demonstrate your expertise, ability to understand complex ideas, educate your readers and provide relevant information. For example, a real estate agent could blog about local buying trends, housing starts, things to consider when buying, how to find financing, etc. Demonstrating industry knowledge and a willingness to share it puts you ahead of your competitors who have yet to embrace blogging. This also provides another avenue for people to give social validation by clicking the social media options you’ve provided. Win-win for all.
Social validation isn’t going away and to ignore it, especially in this high tech age, could be a prescription for slow or no growth and even failure.
I live in Toronto and went to the last one of the season and quite frankly, I had a blast. What is it? It is run on a format and don’t quote me on it (c’mon, I have only been to one), but is very organized so when you enter, you pay $20 and are given a seat number to be assigned to.
Then it is floor time in which people all chat with one another before the networking meeting begins. Everyone was very friendly and more open than other networking meetings I have previously attended. Then I heard a buzzer and searched for my seat.
I was seated with two men…. A carpet retailer and a PR agent. One had been there before, and he explained the format. We were to go out on the floor and advocate for each other and bring back cards for people who were interested in the person’s service.
Wow, that certainly took the edge off and sounded like a lot of fun. It was my turn to explain what I did. I am a copywriter and serve just about anybody, so I suggested they look for people with websites, or brochures or in need of writing.
The carpet man went out on my behalf, and for some reason, I didn’t think he really understood what I did but sure enough, he came back with a fist full of cards and described each potential client to me.
Next, the PR man went out and talked me up, and then returned with more cards for me once again. Eureka!
Now it was my turn. The pressure was on me to do as good a job as they had done for me. I shoved my way out into the crowd and grabbed the first person I saw and started to ask if they had thought of purchasing a carpet that year and yes, they had. My heart soared. It was as easy as that. The only hard part was when I looked around the room and everyone was engaged, and I couldn’t find a soul to talk with. So I indeed came back with a fist full of cards for my partners.
What surprised me was the level of excitement I was able to maintain working the floor for somebody else. I was really a pro, and just kept going even after rejection. I was unstoppable. It was so much fun, and everyone was so receptive.
Afterwards there was a speech by an entrepreneur, and then the organizer talked to us about follow up. He reminded us to be polite and open when someone from Crazy Networking called and to be sure to take their calls.
The meeting came to a close, but there was an optional lunch and more time for networking on our own.
I have never been so avid about networking until I went to this event. Also, unlike other networking meetings that start at 6:30 in the morning, this one started at 9:30, which is perfect for someone like me.
I have already gotten a writing contract out it and am in negotiations for something else.
So check the Meet-ups in your area to see if you have one, and if you don’t, think about starting one. They will be successful. I am crazy for Crazy Networking!
Do you stand up when there is a standing ovation?
If you learn about why you do this, you can use this proven formula in your marketing to reach more clients and make more money . Did you know in some theaters there are professional clacques used to start clapping and start standing up to get the other audience members to stand up for ovations?
Do you look around yourself to see if others are standing up or do you just stand up on your own?
This strategy is called Social Validation. It suggests that 95% of us are imitators and 5% of us are initiators. Here is another example of it. A restaurant in Bejing asterisked certain items on their menu as most popular and at the end of the month they discovered that these items had risen in popularity by a whopping 13%.
I am sure you have seen at Amazon.com when you purchase a book online, It shows you other similar books that are also popular.
So how can you use this in your marketing? I use it in my response to objections. If someone says, “It’s too much money…,” I then respond with something like this: “Many of my clients felt that way at first but changed their mind after…”
See how I said “Many of my clients.” That is social validation. People like to do what other people like to do. They are joiners. It has been proven they like to buy what other people buy also. It makes them feel safe, a secret formula for you to use in you marketing.
Another tip to use when you are dealing with objections is to isolate the objection. By this I mean make sure there aren’t any other objections standing in your way. Here’s what I mean. “Insert Name, may I ask, aside from the price factor is there anything else standing in your way of making a decision today?”
You have now eliminated “I want to think it over; I have to talk to my partner, etc.” You and your prospect are now gaining momentum, without pressure.
Use benefits instead of features. Let’s pretend we are in the stereo store eavesdropping on the sales clerk who is citing off the features of a new stereo system to a young couple. It has turned into a major yawn-fest for the young couple, who are thinking about dinner instead of the stereo unit. If only he would say something like, “Imagine, lying back in your own living room, listening to the Boston Pops, with this unit you would be so thrilled.” The latter statement evokes the senses where as the list of features doesn’t.
Benefit statement sound like “earning more income, taking more time off, adding clients etc.” Try to talk about the benefits in your descriptions. “My last client got a lot of new clients using my product.”
I hope these tips have been helpful for you. They can be found in my book, “How to turn a No or a Maybe into a Yes!”
© 2011 Sarah Wood
About the Author: Sarah Jo Wood is founder of Evolving Advisors Inc. and author of ‘How to turn a No or a Maybe into a Yes!” Her coaching program teaches entrepreneurs like you to overcome objections so you can sign up all the clients you want, fill your practice, and increase your bottom line. To begin supercharging your sales, download your complimentary sales package today at www.evolvingadvisors.com.
I can’t remember who reached out to whom first when it came to my relationship on Face Book with Joy Bing Fleming but it immediately evolved into a wonderful correspondence and over time into a deep friendship of trust and mutual cooperation and admiration.
I can honestly say that she has gone out of her way for me in helping me out as I navigate the ins and outs of the social media. She is a social media maven and has been cited for her numerous connections on Twitter. How she finds the time to link up with me and make me feel so special astounds me.
She has shared me with her list on more than one occasion and tried to help me enhance my business. So it is my turn to do something in return for Joy.
She is going to share her enthusiastic knowledge in lifepassion.net/increase-your-sales on March 1, 2012. This isn’t just like any other course. Have you ever been to a course where you get way more than you paid for? That is how Joy is as a person.
She goes way overboard in terms of her delivery. She brings you knowledge simplistically so you can understand social media in everyday language and really “get it” to incorporate it on your own pages. She gives you examples that you can immediately relate to. She also gives you great ideas for posting to make you sound creative and get you responses.
She teaches you the fundamental steps of engagement so you automatically acquire friends and fans and begin a social network. She takes all of the guesswork out of it for you. This is what you want! To be building a social community.
She also teaches you what NOT to do. Blunders that beginners and even practiced users are making.
Find out how to persuade your network how to opt-in to your free-giveaway page and become part of your list. How to build the trust. How to develop quality followers on Twitter… How to get retweeted… How to follow influencers and be popular. Learn all about the symbols and what they connote. Learn why you should relate far more than you should promote and Joy will explain how you could lose your followers by not adhering to her special secrets. She has a proven formula for you http://lifepassion.net/increase-your-sales
Haven’t you always said to yourself that you would like to become an EXPERT at Social Media? http://lifepassion.net/increase-your-sales
Know the statistics in your business and use them in overcoming objections. Numbers and statistics are perceived as facts. What is the range of time it takes you to achieve your results? How many people have you helped? How long have you been in practice? How many coaching clients do you sign up per year? What is your retention rate? If you can make powerful statements like “MOST” of my clients choose_____, they will most likely want to choose that also if they are convinced you have a good coaching practice.
Clients want to feel included in what the majority is doing, another example of social validation. They want to feel important, a part of something. If everyone else is doing something and they decide to do it too, they feel safe.
Maybe coaching clients who commit to a yearly program rather than less have better results, and you have statistical results to prove it. The point is to be a statistics analyzer in your business and be able to educate your client, so that she/he will be comfortable fitting in and “belonging” to a statistical group and will want to say yes.
Numbers are the most important impression you will leave on your client so it is important to know your own numbers. Numbers mobilize emotions in people if they are used correctly.
Just look at the magazines and you will see “7 tips to…” or “5 Insider Secrets” or “21 days to a Firmer You.”
I give lots of number examples in my responses that you can customize to your own business. I talk about return on investment, number of coaching clients, number of products, and number of repeat clients. Numbers are more powerful than descriptive words. Please don’t underestimate them in choosing the kinds of responses you work with.
I have a lot of coaching clients who sign up every year.
I have 15 coaching clients in my practice right now and 12 of them say they will stay on with me. Soon I will have to have a waiting list.
See how inserting numbers and quantifying it, makes it interesting and credible, making you the desired expert.
If you have 3-4 you could say you are:
30 % filled and have vacancies and are offering a limited special to the first three who sign up.
If you’re just starting out or don’t have any numbers, you can always get numbers from your industry, and from star performers in your industry. You will not be “borrowing” their personal stories. But you can quote their results as an example of how powerful your service can be.
Sarah Jo Wood is founder of Evolving Advisors Inc. and author of ‘How to turn a No or a Maybe into a Yes!” She fills practices through enrollment conversations. Her coaching program teaches how to overcome objections so you can sign up all the clients you want and increase your bottom line. She’s been an entrepreneur for over 20+ years and awarded consistently. She is a dual citizen of the U.S.A. and lives in Toronto, Canada, with her b/f and four pets. www.evolvingadviser.com