Go Beyond Testimonials to Build Confidence

Testimonials are a great way to support and prove your claims. They also engage the “bandwagon” effect — the more people doing it, the more acceptable it is.

However, testimonials aren't the only way to accomplish this. Once you understand that there's nothing magical about testimonials, and that the key is to show “other people doing it,” you can find endless proofs to build confidence.

Here are some of the most effective:

Use “indirect testimonials.” List businesses that use your products or services. Or you can list the states or countries in which you do business, the industries you serve, the percentage of Fortune 500 companies you work with, the types of professionals who trust you, and so on.

Show pictures of people using your product or service. This usually is better than a “still life” of your gadget sitting idle in a photo studio. An action picture can simultaneously show the product, show the kind of people who use it and show its benefits. Seeing is believing.

Relay case histories from some of your best customers or clients. Studies show tangible case histories can be more effective than impressive statistics. Show how someone solved a problem or derived a big benefit. Before and after descriptions are particularly effective.

Mention how long your company has been in existence. This is a subtle indication of popularity. What's impressive here is relative to your business. If you're a software company, being in business 10 years makes you an old timer. If you're a bank, 10 years makes you an infant.

Tout the number of products sold. It always helps to keep good records. Dig through your sales reports and see what figures you can come up with. You might have to estimate, but make it reasonable and believable. And be sure you have data to support your claim.

Display the number of customers or clients you serve. McDonald's built an empire by displaying a running count of the number served on its signs. I'm not sure if this represented the number of people or burgers served. It doesn't matter. Both work.

Warn customers about limited product because of demand. This shows popularity plus scarcity, another powerful human motivator. However, be careful. If you cry wolf, people eventually will stop believing you.

Announce the speed of your sales because of demand. This combines popularity with urgency. If you're the fastest selling, say it. If you're not, maybe you're the most consistent.

Say how long your product or service has been a bestseller. This says popularity, quality and consistency. It often can be more effective than just saying how long you've been around.

Cite information on your market leadership. Being first or tops in your market is unbeatable, as long as you make it relevant.

Reveal the seasonal demand of your product or service. Not only does this show public acceptance, it overcomes inertia and can encourage early orders. A good example is the rush to buy the latest fad toy during the holidays.

Show important or well-known people using your product or service. This invokes the “halo” effect, connecting the good feeling people have for the celebrity to your wares. Just make sure you have the required permissions.

Display a seal of approval by a rating organization. Approval from Good Housekeeping or an industry group puts an official stamp on public approval. However, I don't approve of making up an organization to fake the rating.

Cite favorable reviews. Third-party information is always powerful. Some products, such as software, are routinely reviewed. However, television commentators and experts writing for publications often review products and services. If you have something unique or interesting, make sure they know about it.

Cite mentions from the media. Newsworthy products and services are more trusted. If you get a favorable mention, you can quote it. Otherwise, you can list media coverage. This is an argument for a good public relations effort.

Associate your product or service with respected magazines. “As seen in XYZ Magazine.” List the magazines you advertise in to show public approval of your product or service.

Associate your product or service with respected media. “As seen on TV.” Television is considered very credible. If you appear there, you have instant credibility. List the networks your advertisements have appeared on.

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