Fake Reviews = Brand Damage
People don’t talk about brand damage enough.
If you or your brand ever come off as fake or unauthentic, your ability to build loyalty dies.
Even if you’re a brand new company setting out with a new website and no customers, there are processes you can use to acquire social proof (and we’re going to show you them).
This article will help you acquire social proof for your brand, build trust with your audience, and position you for success.
The Strategy Behind Positioning Your Brand
The world is complex. Among all things that exist, businesses try to find their niche to claim as their home.
The process of finding a niche is one thing, but to gain a foothold on a niche AND build a sense of belonging is another.
Social proof is a way for businesses to locate niche markets, build an identity with them, and assimilate into their community of people, leaders, and brands.
Truthfully speaking, the entire marketing process becomes much easier once you align yourself or brand to a niche of people.
Once established, you’ll learn the inside jargon and culture of your niche; helping you connect, relate, and earn trust with members.
This will help you communicate with people outside your niche.
By leveraging brand equity from widely known companies, your articulation of what you do, who you serve, and who your audience is improves dramatically.
How to Get Social Proof
Whether or not you’re a startup or enterprise, there are fundamental processes you can use to enhance your social proof.
These are our 6 recommended approaches:
1. Software Certifications
Are there relevant technologies used in your industry or for your profession? If so, becoming certified would add value to your profile.
In the world of marketing, we use tools like Google Analytics, Hubspot, and Salesforce. By becoming certified administrators of these software platforms, your brand can position itself as a stronger contender against your competitors; showing expertise and building trust.
2. Industry Certifications
Are there industry-specific certifications that would help build your profile? In healthcare, there are credentials like Registered Nurse (RN). In accounting, Certified Professional Accountant (CPA). What are these for your industry?
If none, what sort of certifications could you earn for your brand? When I was a paddleboard instructor, I become trained in first-aid. I was able to use the training company’s logo on my website and leveraged their badge to build trust with my website visitors.
Try to find a way this would correlate for your industry.
3. Join Relevant Clubs & Organizations
Are there recognized networks you can join to build trust and improve your brand’s reputation? In the aviation industry, there is a network called the International Association of Airport Executives. Is there something similar for your industry?
Joining these networks will help you align your brand with a network of people. This tactic will also give you access to networking opportunities and talent recruitment.
Networks and associations are a part of business that young founders tend to not understand. These networks might not have the best incentives for joining, but their reputation helps you maintain your brand’s position. That’s what you’re really paying membership fees for.
4. Attend Events that Build Your Profile
Each industry has a popular conference that’s well known among professionals. By attending these popular conferences, you can show your audience that you take your role seriously; that you continue to develop your skills and knowledge (maintaining relevancy).
Additionally, by attending conferences, you can create content to leverage the conference’s brand reputation. For example, you could share images on social media, write a blog post, or shoot a video.
What is the most popular conference for your industry?
Arrange Meetings Before You Arrive
Ask your community members if anyone is attending your industry’s conference. If yes, arrange a time to meet for a coffee (if you have time).
To build and maintain social proof will require all kinds of testimonials. We’ve broken down testimonials into 4 types:
- Professional Network Testimonials
- Event Testimonials
- Customer Testimonials
- Content Testimonials
Professional Network Testimonials
I classify this as a “professional network” and not a “personal network” because you shouldn’t get your high school friends to write wonderous testimonials for you.
Instead, get testimonials from people who you’ve worked with. This would include people who take their role seriously and that you’ve done business with in the past.
If early into your career and not having these contacts to ask, try reaching out to people who you’ve done case competitions with in the past. You can also ask people you’ve interned for or have done consulting for in the past.
Once collecting a variety of testimonials, include them on your webpages and landing pages. Eventually, you’ll want to phase these testimonials out as you begin to acquire customer testimonials.
If you’re facilitating workshops (as we suggested on our brand awareness campaign article), you’ll want to acquire the testimonials from the people who manage the event – specifically, the hands-on project managers.
Connecting with people with job titles like Event Coordinator or Project Manager helps you show others that you’re good to work with. When completing a workshop (and doing a good job), it’s not farfetched to seek out feedback and a testimonial from these people. You can then use their testimonial on your speaker webpage for people who are considering asking you to speak at their event.
Customer testimonials give your potential customers a window into your products and services. They show considering leads what they can expect and what sort of results they will achieve.
But here’s the thing – testimonials have to come from the right people.
If I’m offering services to CEO or COO, they likely won’t resonate with a testimonial from a young person who’s 1-2 years into their career. Instead, they’ll want to see testimonials from people who are like them.
The second piece to consider (besides job title) is the where you’ll ask for a testimonial.
I tend to aim for the 8-week mark after taking on a client. By that time, the client has gone through a portion of my onboarding process and has seen some early-stage tangible results to their marketing operations.
So for you and your business, think about what job titles would be best to acquire for people considering your products or services (and where would it make sense to ask for the testimonial).
The last type of testimonial we emphasize for your brand is content testimonials.
These are testimonials that summarize the value people get from your content. They could be for an ebook, online course, or your blog.
Either way, they exist to help motivate people to submit your forms; becoming members of your community or to opt into a lead-gen page.
I list this one last because there are so many ways to interpret what is meant by education.
I consider any program or form of learning education, so long as it’s from an incorporated entity of people. This would include universities, colleges, online learning companies, accelerator programs, and incubators.
That being said, you should consider the brand of the educational group relative to your market.
If a lot of people in your market have MBAs, you might want to consider joining that club. However, if you’re serving high-tech companies, you might want to consider accelerator programs like Techstars or Y-Combinator.
It’s worth noting here that your market may appeal to doing a mix of education; both traditional and innovative (like an accelerator). Either way, the more known brands you can stand behind, the better it is for your brand.
The single most important takeaway from this article is this:
The entire marketing process is much easier when you align your company to an already established brand.
This article covered 6 ways you can build your social proof and reputation.
We covered software certifications, industry certifications, clubs and associations, events, testimonials, and education.
Take from these tactics what you will, but don’t miss the opportunity to apply them to your brand.
I said it twice and will say it a third time, marketing becomes MUCH EASIER when you align yourself with an already established brand.
Mentioned Companies, People, and Sources
- Google – Mention of tools like Google Analytics.
- Hubspot – The Inbound Marketing Software Solution.
- Salesforce – The World’s Leading CRM Platform.
- Canadian Nurses Association – Information about the “Registered Nurse” designation.
- Chartered Professional Accountants Canada – Information about the “CPA” designation.
- St. John’s Ambulance – Reference to my first-aid training leveraged for SUP Baddeck.
- International Association of Airport Executives – Reference to their network of airport authority staff and administrations.
- TechStars – One of the world’s leading business accelerator programs.
- Y-Combinator – Another one of the world’s leading business accelerator programs.
- We didn’t mention any people in this article, but would have loved to. If you know someone whose story is worth sharing, please connect us with them via our contact form.
- There were no academic sources listed in this article. The tips and advice mentioned in this post came strictly from our marketing experience over the years helping startups, small businesses, and large enterprises build and engage their audience.
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