If you are a consultant, social proof is critical for the growth of your coaching business.
Because, unlike product-based businesses, you can’t separate what you are selling from yourself. So social proof can be a deal-breaker or deal-maker.
Have lots of it, and you’ll persuade more prospects to do business with you. You will soon become a big kahuna in your industry who’s booked solid for months. However, with scanty proof, you’ll struggle to attract prospects and close sales.
Weave many layers of social proof into your site and funnel.
In this handy guide, I will show you 7 simple tips you can use to gain your prospect’s trust faster through the smart use of social proof.
What is social proof?
Social proof is a psychological concept where people change their behavior to match what other people are doing. We think our behavior is correct if we see people around us doing the same thing.
We follow the behavior of friends, experts, or even strangers.
3 Reasons you must build social proof as a consultant
So, what are the gains of building social proof? How does it help your business? Here are three undeniable benefits:
First, solid social proof pre-sells prospects. No, I’m not talking about selling a product that doesn’t exist yet. Pre-selling here refers to getting prospects to buy into you and your competence before they see your explicit offer. When a prospect is presold, they’re confident you are the ideal person to help them solve their problems.
Pricing and positioning
A business operates on a simple demand and supply principle. The higher the demand for your services, the higher you can charge. Social proof positions you as an in-demand professional. People won’t mind paying a premium fee for your services.
When you use social proof correctly, more people take the desired actions on your site. And, on seeing others act, recent visitors do the same. This leads to an open-loop of unending, consistent conversions.
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty.
That said, how do you build social proof as a coach?
1. Display logos of popular sites you’ve guest posted on
Guest posting is a proven way to generate brand awareness, build authority, and develop relationships with industry leaders.
Want prospective clients to regard you as a big player in your industry?
Display logos of authority sites you’ve guest posted on. Prospects will take you seriously because they equate you with the respected sites that have featured you. It’s a case of social proof by association.
If you mingle with the big dogs, you must be one also, right? 😉
That’s the strategy Content Strategist and freelance writer coach Jacob McMillen used. In the middle of his copywriting course page, he showed off his expertise by displaying the leading sites he’s written for.
This nudges more prospects over the purchase line because they’re convinced he knows his stuff.
For this strategy to work, target the right blogs. Feature only those sites your prospects revere. No idea which ones? No problem. You can always conduct a survey and let your audience reveal them to you.
2. Share powerful testimonials of your results
Testimonials are a common form of social proof.
But most consultants do them wrongly. They use scanty, blanket testimonials filled with generic expressions like ‘awesome service’. As a result, their testimonials don’t have the impact they should.
An excellent testimonial is:
- Specific: a solid recommendation is particular about the problem the client had, how you solved it, and the outcome of your service’s intervention.
- Benefit-laden: a superb testimonial crams mouth-watering benefits of doing business with you in every turn to convince prospects to convert.
- Addresses objections: an effective endorsement preempts all the major objections the potential client might have about working with you.
- Uses a credible source: a marvelous commendation revolves around a credible source—a person whose characteristics, struggles, and dreams perfectly fits your customer avatar.
- Facial: studies show people respond to faces, so a moving testimonial includes a headshot of the satisfied client. A photo also makes the testimony authentic.
Client and influencer testimonials are the two common types.
Small business marketing consultant, Sean D’ Souza uses a convincing testimonial that addresses objections head-on.
The testimonial contrasts past negative experiences with Sean’s positive one. So prospects see he is the real deal, unlike the flaky gurus.
3. Mesmerize prospects with scrumptious case studies
Case studies are the biggest form of proof.
Customer success stories are testimonials on steroids. They have 10x more impact than testimonials because of one key element—detail.
People enjoy success stories because everyone loves winning. That’s why 50% of B2B decision-makers buyers read a case study for help in deciding whether to work with a brand.
Plus, fascinating stories are 22x more memorable than dry facts.
The best case studies:
- Show your expertise: Nothing displays your knowledge and skills than a well-done case study where you apply your knowledge to a real-life situation. Cover aspects that show how your core offer solves client problems.
- Reveal your process: Service-based businesses serve clients differently. A case study reveals your unique process so prospects know what to expect should they hire you.
- Involve ideal clients: One of the biggest questions prospects ask themselves is: Can you help someone like me? So if the subject of your case study matches your customer avatar, you deal with that question conclusively.
- Follow the makeover TV show model: show the before (problem) state and the after (solution) state. And the critical in-between steps you took to solve the problem and bring about the transformation.
Sam Ovens, Forbes 30 Under 30 Entrepreneur and business consultant dedicates an entire page to customer success stories.
It’s a powerful testimonials page because:
- It uses faces of happy customers for instant connection.
- It takes advantage of the power of numbers (3,745 customer love stories).
- It includes both written and videos to cater to everyone’s taste.
4. Reveal your vast experience in your field
You need surgery for a delicate medical condition. Understandably, you are nervous about the whole thing. On meeting the doctor who will operate on you, she says, “Relax, this is my first surgery!”
You’d dash out of that hospital faster than Usain Bolt in his prime, right? 😀
When you know an experienced practitioner will handle your case, it’s reassuring. So, if you have a long track record in your industry, let prospects know. You will inspire confidence in your abilities.
That’s exactly what blogging expert Enstein Muki did on his coaching page.
He underlines his experience in the blogging field. Another example of revealing your experience is by writing in-depth how-to blog posts that help your prospects, for example this guide on a sports blog.
Why does experience sway customers-to-be so much?
An experienced consultant:
- Knows exactly how to help you because they’ve dealt with many similar cases to yours in the past.
- Gets you to the desired outcome faster because they’ve perfected their system over the years.
- Reduces the risk of failure and throwing hard-earned cash down the drain without seeing results.
- Ensures a richer journey towards transformation for customers since the accomplished service provider can tap from their deep reservoir of past encounters.
5. Woo prospects with a social proof widget
If you receive decent traffic on your site, a social proof widget can work wonders for you.
Validation from a third-party tool is more trustworthy than internal social proof.
You can’t fiddle with the information. The software shows live actions your visitors are taking. Because you can tamper with synchronous feedback easily, fake testimonials are on the rise.
To instantly increase trust, conversions, and sales through a social proof widget:
- Capture newsletter sign-ups and purchases live.
- Show bookings and appointments as they happen.
- Display an actual time counter of the clients you’ve served.
Trustpilot is a handy software for real-time tracking of visitor activity on your site.
Showing a fresh customer review that’s only 4 hours old shows visitors this is a busy site where buyers are voting with their wallets. New visitors are likely to do the same.
But there’s a caveat with using a social proof widget.
It works well only if you have a high-traffic well-optimized site.
What if you receive a trickle of traffic? You can’t show visitor actions, otherwise, that’ll be negative social proof. What must you do?
Display your booking calendar. Yep, it’s a simple yet powerful tactic. People like to work with sought-after coaches who have tight schedules.
The best part?
When people notice appointment slots being filled up and getting fewer, it triggers the Fear Of Missing Out, aka FOMO in them. They feel the urgency to book now rather than later.
6. Impress prospects with influencer endorsements
Being endorsed by industry stars can make a good impression on captivated budding customers.
Maybe you are asking yourself:
Where on earth can I get a celebrity to endorse my skills?
Where do I start?
Calm down, friend. I’ve got you. Realize you don’t have to get the nod from mega-celebrities who have millions of followers. There are 5 levels of influencers.
- Celebrities with 1million+ followers
- Macro-influencers with 100k+ followers
- Professionals with 20k+ followers
- Micro-influencers with 1000+ followers
- Nano-influencers with ＜1000 followers
To access, let alone get a recommendation from most macro-influencers and celebrities is tough.
But micro-influencers are reachable. Since they are niche experts, people value their voices. So if a micro-influencer vouches for you or your service, you can skyrocket your conversions.
The weight of their voice is enough to convince tentative prospects to try your services.
However, finding influencers can be challenging. That’s where a platform like trendHERO can come in handy. It helps you search for influencers and then analyze their profiles. You can see their engagement rates, audience demographics, and analyze their content as well. Based on this analytics, you can choose to get in touch with them for collaborations and get endorsements.
I use influencer endorsements on my freelance writer services page.
Forget the what of this testimonial. The deal clincher is who it’s from. Surely, if Lilach Bullock, a Forbes Top 20 Social Influencer and Amazon Best-Selling Author says I’ve got the writing chops, my audience will be confident I can help them.
7. Point out any press mentions you’ve received
Earned media mentions are another way to leverage social proof.
There are two kinds of earned media mentions:
- Organic mentions
- Planned mentions
First, mentions can occur organically. People can quote or praise you on niche sites, podcasts, social media, trade journals, or mainstream media. Assemble the right social media toolkit so you quickly pick, acknowledge, and capture any mentions that come your way.
Continue doing outstanding work and providing stellar service, soon someone will notice you. They’ll reference what you do. While organic mentions are excellent, you can’t just sit there and wait for them. That’s no way to run your consultancy. You must prime the pump through planned mentions.
- Actively seek guest post opportunities, roundup post placements, and podcast appearances since 45% of people listen to podcasts.
- Join platforms like Haro so you share your expertise with content-hungry journalists.
- Publish and distribute press releases when you have significant news to share.
- Be active in niche forums and communities. The more value you add each day, the higher the chances someone will reference what you do.
Once you land those fabulous mentions, display them prominently on your site. You’ve worked hard for them, so you deserve your moment in the limelight. Lap it all up, honey. 😎👏😎
As you do, your audience will acknowledge you as the real McCoy.
Where do you get social proof material?
How do you pinpoint special moments you can use as social proof?
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What are my biggest wins in business so far?
- Are there any milestones I have reached as a service provider?
- What pleasant things do customers and colleagues consistently say about me?
- Have I set up Google alerts and social listening tools so I get instant notifications whenever someone mentions my brand?
- Have I built testimonials into my workflow?
- Which micro-influencers in my circles can I reach out to for a stamp of approval?
- How can I collaborate with micro-influencers in my niche for mutual benefit?
- Do I have a system of collecting and curating User-generated Content (UGC)?
- Do I use enough social proof in strategic pages like the homepage, services page, or sales page?
After you identify the moments, package them into enticing social proof messages.
Win customers’ minds and hearts through social proof
As a coach or consultant, you can’t have too much social proof.
Whether you are a new coach or a grizzled veteran, the more proof you can show, the better. You will convince many potential clients to pay for your services because they see peers pleased with you and your services.
Your cash register will ring often for longer.