It’s Saturday lunchtime, and you’re looking for a bite to eat in a new town. One of the restaurants is full of customers, while another is completely empty. Which do you go into?

If you’re like most people, you’ll wait for a table at the busy place rather then take your chances at the empty spot. You also would assume, without any other reason, that the food is better at the crowded place. This common phenomenon is known as ‘social proof.’ People behave in this way because we’re greatly influenced by what our peers do. We often only make decisions once we’ve seen someone else do it first. 

Testimonials are social proof

These days, prospective customers hear the same marketing messages that promote ‘quality’ or ‘value’ time and again. Unfortunately this renders them meaningless. 

But this all changes once these same words come from a satisfied customer’s mouth. They now carry credibility. This is social proof in action.

Referrals, reviews and testimonials are a form of word-of-mouth advertising. They are great at generating leads and sales, as they wield enormous persuasive power. As such, collecting and publishing testimonials from existing customers is pretty much guaranteed to gain you new ones.

Collecting and publishing testimonials

So how do you get testimonials? The great news is that if your small business has an awesome product or service, then it’s as simple as asking for them. Reach out to any of your satisfied clients through an email, or in person, or via a feedback form.

Whatever you do, don’t fake positive reviews. People can spot these a mile away. Also, it’s against the law.

Once you’ve gathered a few testimonials, then the next step is to post them on your website. This helps speed up the purchasing process for your customers. It allows them to find out everything they need to know about your product or service in one accessible location. As such, it’s best to choose testimonials that show off your company’s breadth and versatility.

Some small businesses show off their testimonials on a dedicated page. This is fine, as it acts as a portfolio. However, a more effective way is to add them (where appropriate) throughout your site, set to rotate. This way, prospective customers don’t have to look for social proof; it just appears!