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[Podcast] Social Proofing for New Brands & Professionals

Episode Introduction

How do you build a great brand that people talk about and love?

We hear about great companies like Disney and Amazon, but how did they come to be? What strategies did they use? And how can we adopt their methodologies to improve our marketing operations?

I’m your host Colin MacInnis, and THIS is the Marketing Qualified podcast.

Social proofing can be a good thing or a bad thing.

On the good side, social proofing can help humanize your brand, build trust for new visitors, and solidify yourself as a vetted professional.

On the bad side, social proofing can reveal fake reviews, false testimonials, or worse, misguiding reviews from personal friends.

If you or your brand ever come off as fake or sneaky, your ability to build loyalty dies.

In this episode, we’re going to cover 6 ways you can build social proof for your website; helping you build more trust and position your brand for success.

Before getting started, it’s important to understand the deeper strategy of what social proofing does for your brand.

When you social proof correctly, you will learn about new market segments within your niche. You will build an identity with different groups of people, assimilating yourself into their community of experts, leaders, and brands.

Trust me when I say, the entire marketing process becomes much easier once you learn how to mingle within each segment of your market.

You will know the inside jargon and culture, enabling you to connect, relate, and earn trust.

Furthermore, you’ll be able to leverage brands that are already well-established and well-known. This will help you articulate what you do, who you serve, and who your audience is.

Now let’s begin with these 6 ways to build social proof for your business.

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 typically use tools like Google Analytics, Hubspot, and Salesforce. By becoming certified administrators of these software platforms, we can quickly position ourselves as strong contenders in the market.

This works particularly well when communicating to older, more laggard-behavior people.

My dad is approaching his retirement years. He is a Vice President of Finance and Operations and doesn’t quite understand the in’s and out’s of digital marketing. To articulate what I do to him, I mention my Google Partner certification.

“Hey dad, I do digital marketing. This means I work with apps and platforms like Google to help businesses grow”, or because I know his employer uses Hubspot “Hey dad, I spend a lot of my day analyzing marketing data inside platforms like Hubspot”.

Google. Hubspot. My dad now has a small sense of what I do and the tools I use. In his meetings where Hubspot or Google are mentioned, he’ll think of me, “My son works with those platforms”.

This opens the door for my dad to give referrals when running into people who work with Hubspot. It also aligns me to a brand that has a stronger reputation than my own.

What are these software certifications for your industry? What brands could you mention that would make it click what you do?

2. Industry Certifications

Are there industry-specific certifications that would help build your profile? In healthcare, there are credentials like Registered Nurse (RN) or 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 leverage their certification badge to earn trust with my website visitors.

Try to find a meaningful way to incorporate this into your brand.

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. This is an online club for managers working in the Aviation Industry servicing airports, airlines, and ground-side operations.

The network organizes events and online webinars to train people within their sector. They also offer online courses and certifications to members of their network.

Is there something similar to this 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. “Why would I join a network for professional development? How would that lead to sales?”.

Joining networks might not have the best incentives for your sales targets, but their reputation helps you maintain your brand’s position. The ability to leverage those brands during dialogue is 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 indirectly 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 for social media that leverages 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?

5. Testimonials

Testimonials are a great way to social proof your website, but many people think testimonials have to come from customers. We’ve divided testimonials into 4 types:

  1. Professional Network Testimonials
  2. Event Testimonials
  3. Customer Testimonials
  4. Content Testimonials
Testimonial Type 1: 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. To my point during the introduction of this episode, this can lead to brand damage.

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 yet, try reaching out to people who you’ve volunteered with or worked on a case competitions 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 rotate these testimonials out as you collect more customer testimonials.

Testimonial Type 2: Event Testimonials

If you’re facilitating workshops, as we suggested on our previous series on brand awareness, you’ll want to acquire testimonials from people who attend the event and the people you worked with to organize event; these would be the hands-on project managers you work with to book and facilitate the event.

When you can leverage testimonials from people with job titles like “Event Coordinator” or “Project Manager”, you’ll show future venue coordinators 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 testimonials from some members of the audience. You can use these testimonials on your speaker profile documents and webpages when applying to speak at other events.

Testimonial Type 3: Customer Testimonials

Customer testimonials give your potential customers a window into your products and services.

They show considering individuals 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 specialist who is 1-2 years into their career. Instead, they’ll want to see testimonials from people who are on-par with their career; being a CEO, COO, or CMO.

The second piece to consider (besides job title) is WHERE to ask for testimonials. Let me give you an example:

I typically ask clients and customers for a testimonial 8-weeks after starting to work together. By that time, the client has gone through a portion of my onboarding process and has realized some amount of results based on the work I’ve provided.

Now think about your business. What job titles would be best to acquire for people considering your products or services? Where does it make sense to ask for the testimonial?

Testimonial Type 4: Content Testimonials

The last type of testimonial is a content testimonial.

These are testimonials that summarize the value people get from your content. They could be for your ebooks, online courses, your blog, or even your podcast.

Either way, they exist to help motivate people to submit your forms; becoming members of your community and to opt-into your messaging.

6. Education

There are many different ways to interpret what is meant by “education”.

I consider any program education, so long as it’s from an incorporated entity of people. This would include universities, colleges, online learning companies, accelerator programs, and incubators.

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 taking part in an accelerator program such as Techstars or Y-Combinator.

It’s worth noting here that your market may appeal to doing a mix of education; both traditional (like universities) and innovative (like accelerators). Either way, the more you can leverage the brand of an educational group, the better it is for your social proofing.

Conclusion

From this podcast episode, the single most important takeaway is this:

The entire marketing process becomes much easier once you have aligned your unknown company to an already-established brand.

This episode covered 6 ways you can build social proof and increase your reputation.

We covered software certifications, industry certifications, clubs and associations, events, testimonials, and education.

I said it twice and will say it a third time, marketing becomes MUCH EASIER when you align yourself with an already established brand.

Thank you listeners for tuning in and have a great day!

Mentioned Companies, People, and Sources

Companies:

People:

  • My dad, Gordon MacInnis.

Sources:

  • 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.
  • Music media was provided by WonderSProd (purchased from Pond5). For legal reference, here is Pond5’s Royalty-Free License Agreement.

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