In business, everything you do is geared toward one thing: turning prospects into customers. But the way you communicate your offer and, more importantly, how well you prove your case beyond “all reasonable doubt” can mean the difference between
a sale and no sales. Tracey Dooley shows you
how to use ‘proof points’ your advantage…
Aside from a bad product, poor targeting or shoddy copy, the lack of proof in your copy is one of the main reasons your business will fail.
Think about it. People are skeptics. They’ve probably been burned so many times; they are certainly leery of anything being ‘sold’ (whether directly or indirectly) to them. At least, they are at first. And much more so today than ever before, thanks to the proliferation of spam and scams.
“Prove it!” they say, or think. And rightly so.
Build Credibility With Evidence
When I was a newspaper journalist I had to persuade editors to invest in my ideas for stories. I did this by producing hard evidence why each story was needed, by showing that there was a clear benefit for the newspaper’s readers to include my story, and that I had the necessary skills and experience to write it.
Exactly the same principle applies to the launch of a new business, product or service – and to your success in persuading people to take you seriously.
The bottom line is this: You have to earn your reader’s respect and credibility in every bit of copy you write. You need to be sure of your facts. Then provide hard, solid evidence… As much proof as you can muster.
Substantiate, Substantiate, Substantiate
There are three main types of proof that will help you build your case: technical proof, factual proof and, the biggie, social proof.
1. Technical proof. This is where you provide independent test data about your business, product or (less practical) service.
Let’s say your product has undergone scientific trials to show that it actually does what it claims to do. You could and should include the results to show how well your product performed (if favourable, of course!).
People love hard evidence. Your pitch will be much more influential if your kitchen appliance can be shown to be 30 per cent more efficient than anything else on the market, for instance. So include as much technical proof as possible.
2. Factual proof. This is a kind of ‘reason why’ proof. Here, you want to try to distinguish your claims from those made by your competitors. In this case, nothing beats authoritative endorsements, direct or indirect, such as “Four out of five dentists recommend this product.” And “Nine out of 10 doctors agree…”
If your face cream has a special ingredient that has been proven to reduce ‘age’ lines, then say so. If your closest competitor’s face cream doesn’t, all the better. Mention that, too.
If your customer-relations solution increases customer-acquisition rates by 36% in just two months, say so.
Perhaps none of your direct competitors offer a ‘try-before-you-buy’ preview of your horse-riding-for-adults DVD. Then say so! And while you are at it, point out that you DO.
3. Social proof. Also known as ‘informational social influence’, social proof is a powerful psychological mechanism. It essentially purports that people tend to use the behaviour or estimation of others to guide their own actions. It’s what feeds the ‘grapevine’. And it’s what stands at the foot of the herd mentality in humans – that is, our need to look to others for how to behave or react.
(Take two restaurants. Both open on the same day. Both are on the same street. Outside one is a long queue of people and much merriment. Outside the other is a lonely piece of discarded rubbish. Which restaurant do you think most people are likely to try? The popular one. It has to be popular for a reason, right? Or so the ‘social influence’ factor would lead us to believe.)
Therefore, people tend to assume that a behaviour or an idea is validated not by its objective evidence, per se, but rather by its social following, popularity or acceptance by others.
The same is true of your business, product or service. The more you can demonstrate that there are real-life people out there who have tried what you are offering and are happy with it, the more social proof you will gather.
Forms of social proof include blogs (especially if you have prospects and customers commenting on your products or posts), endorsements, customer testimonials, case studies and/or anecdotes.
It all boils down to this: The more believable your proof, the more you will establish that all-important trust among prospective customers.
By Tracey Dooley, CopyWriter | Editor | Proofreader
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