Prove You’re The Best!

by Tim Francis on May 22, 2012

UGH.  Hype is nauseating.

Huge, amazing, life-changing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, whiz-bang, oh my goodness AMAZING, Flash-Dash-‘n-Cash, Super Domination, Crush Your Competitors!  BAM-POW-SHABANG!!!!!

…and it’s especially bad online…

I’m talkin about the kind of marketing promise that’s big on energy and makes a huge statement, promises the world (have the life of your dreams!), but leaves the reader / viewer saying YEAH RIGHT, with B.S. meter flying sky-high….

And it just isn’t necessary.

You’ve Won a Million Dollars…?

To quote the most-excellent Gary Halbert, there’s no uninteresting way for me to tell you that you’ve won a million dollars.  That would be very interesting to you.  I wouldn’t have to dress it up in any hype-fuelled hyperbole to catch your attention.

The next step, though – to make you believe me – is a whole different matter.

More on that later.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you play small and stay quiet.  Not in the least.  Making a big promise is okay.  But you had better back it up real fast. And real concretely.

(A side-note to “how to get rich” marketers out there: your head will be on a stake if you don’t / can’t provide two kinds of concrete proof: 1) how you made money in non-“how to get rich” markets, and 2) the long list of dazzling successes your students have had implementing your techniques.  For the record, I don’t like the “how to get rich” scene – too many of my own scars there, and too much grey water flowing through its foundation.  But I am a huge fan of foundational education on how to be a great marketer… guys like Perry Marshall and Glenn Livingston.)

So what if you’ve got a legitimate business, providing genuine value to customers, who are legitimately happy to hand over their hard-earned dollar to receive your product or service over and over again?

You and I can thank Drs. Glenn and Sharon Livingston for sharing this absolute gem…

HYPE is… Promise Without Proof

Let’s consider the following example, a phone call you might receive:

“Hello, you’ve won the lottery!!!”

What would your reaction be?  Probably something along the lines of “Yeah right!”, or “oh great, which Nigerian email scam is this from?”

…. or worse.

Even if the phone call was legitimate, you might brush it off as fraud.

Because it’s such a big promise – “You’ve won the lottery!!!” – you would want to believe it so badly, yet your BS defenses would skyrocket.  Far higher than if you heard: “My carpet cleaning service can remove any stain, including red wine.”

So take note…

The Bigger The Promise, The More Proof You Need

Let’s rewind our lottery example.  This time around…

Imagine the phone rings.  You see the call display is showing a government phone number.  The person on the other end of the line says:

“Hello, my name is Sandra Smith, officer from the lottery commission.  Am I speaking with (insert your name here)?”

Yes.

“Are you located at (insert your address here)?”

Yes.

“Did you purchase a ticket at (x location) on (x date)?”

Yes.

“You may have won the lottery.  But we will first need you to come to our office, located at 123 AnyStreet, and supply 2 sources of government-issued ID, plus your winning lottery ticket.  We will be testing your ID to ensure it isn’t fraudulent.  We’ve got world-class detection equipment that will scan your ID to ensure everything matches up.  Then we will do the same to your winning lottery ticket, to enusre it’s authenticity.  When can you come to our office?”

…now doesn’t that seem infinitely more believable?  There is tons of evidence sprinkled throughout:

  • caller’s name
  • caller’s title
  • government position / “Officer”
  • knowledge of you
  • knowledge of your purchase,
  • listing the address of a real office
  • explaining a rigorous cross-examination of your documents
  • a requirement for you to appear in-person at a government location (not just phone confirmation)

…. all of these build credibility.

So what about you and your small business?  Obviously you won’t have the weight of government buildings and fancy-pants titles to back you up.

But – the good news is – you don’t need that stuff anyways.  Just take some of the ideas from my list below, and away you go!

Ways To Build Proof

Could you include any of the following in your marketing, websites, ads, etc…?

  • demonstrations (show people your expertise, e.g. by explaining your process)
  • telling stories that show “you’ve been there”, and that you understand your clients’ situation
  • endorsements of you and your process from other experts who believe in you (authors, recognized experts, authorities, celebrities, etc)
  • recommendations from professionals (e.g. doctors, physicians, therapists of all kinds, lawyers, accountants)
  • short, specific, emotion-packed, hook-filled testimonials from raving fans
  • university studies conducted in your field
  • specific stats about your industry (e.g. how big the industry is, rates of success and failure, typical results)
  • specific stats from your own business (# of clients served, % satisfaction, margin that you typically outperform competitors by)
  • list of awards and recognition… I’ve spoken at X, I’ve worked with X, I’ve been published in X
  • list of academic credentials (university / college) and related training (X certification, X course completed)
  • list of trade affiliations and associations (e.g. Better Business Bureau, Trade Associations)
  • …and that’s just a few off the top of my head… there’s plenty more!

UPDATE: Here’s a few more…

  • before and after pictures
  • videos of your product / location to make it real for visitors and viewers
  • picture of you to connect a real human being to your message – huge for trust
  • write a book
  • get published elsewhere
  • media appearances
  • logos of recognized brands, people and companies that you’ve worked with

So go ahead and beef-up your sales material to bring forward PROOF of why people should do business with you.

I laughed out loud when I heard Dr. Glenn Livingston say that too many business owners – maybe you too? – stash their awesome proof (awards, etc) on the “About Me” page, where few potential customers will ever see it.  It’s so true!

Onwards and Upwards,

Tim :)

P.S. …if you have more sources of proof to add to my list above, simply leave them in the comment box below.  Would be super cool if this page became an awesome holding spot of you and I’s ideas to create bulletproof, well, PROOF in our businesses!  Then we could always come back to this page as a reference tool the next time you and I are working on a marketing piece and looking for some proof-building ideas…

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Lewis Bassett November 23, 2012 at 8:08 am

Nice one Tim. I can see this becoming another cheat sheet for my toolbox.

Lately, I’ve been interested in what I call “proof of proof”.

Here’s what I mean by that.

Glenn mentioned recently how he has a link on every sales letter to a blog post he did where he invited subscribers to post something if they hated him. I didn’t see any haters, but there were plenty of people with mild criticism.

I know he did this for legal reasons. But I think there’s got to be some benefit to it. (I’d love to actually test this at some point.)

We all know: anyone with a track record (good or bad) can find a handful of happy customers and quote them. I for one don’t put much weight on a testimonial to be honest. Even if the testimonials are certified and 100% genuine, they could represent only the 1% of customers that are happy.

When I have my own sales letters with significant traffic, I’d love to test a negative testimonial. Perhaps it could mention how they asked for their money back under the guarantee and I honoured it. Or perhaps one for someone that didn’t like my attitude or something.

The way I see it, something like that would make all the other positive testimonials much more interesting.

Anyway, my pomodoro’s about to run out, so I need to get cracking on the next item on my agenda for today. :-)

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