What do peer pressure, keeping up with the Joneses, and Amazon’s customer reviews section all have in common? Social proof, baby. Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation (wikipedia) and it can be a powerful tool for marketing.
According to Kiss Metrics, over 70% of Americans say they look at product reviews before making a purchase. Being inherently social creatures, we trust our friends (and even total strangers) to help us decide whether or not we’re getting a good product. Smart photographers use the principles of social proof to market their businesses. One of the easiest and low-cost ways to use social proof, is to collect and share client testimonials. Here a few tips for harnessing the power of social proof to market your photography business with client testimonials.
I hadn’t asked for testimonials for a long time, but after some prodding from my business coach I incorporated asking for testimonials into my workflow. An unexpected result of reading testimonials from my clients was a boost to my confidence and an affirmation that intentional actions I’ve been taking in my business are working. It showed our clients are noticing things like over-delivering on our promises, listening to their needs, being flexible, having systems in place to make business transactions easy, and delivering professional quality photographs (of course). If I hadn’t asked my clients for a review I never would have known they noticed and appreciated these aspects of our service.
Send a Questionaire
The easiest way to get a testimonial from your client is to ask them to write one, and making it quick and easy for them to write the review is key.
Try creating a branded client questionnaire (I use 17 Hats) to send to clients after their images have been delivered. Ask specific questions to elicit a response about the aspects of your business you want to highlight. The questionnaire also gives them a chance to let you know if any part of their experience could have been better. This can be valuable information for improving your customer service.
After you collect the reviews, you can post them around your social media, website, printed literature, video slideshows, presentations, your email signature, ads, etc., to strengthen your brand and further build social proof. Since I’ve been doing this, my inquiries and referrals have measurably increased.
Facebook and other social sites have built-in customer review platforms where your clients can share their experiences. This can be a little more risky than asking for a written review via questionnaire because you can’t edit it. This also makes it more valuable, because the social proof is stronger. If you decide to go this route, you’ll still need to reach out to your clients and ask them to leave a review. Make it easy for them to do it by sending them a link to your page and asking them to leave a positive review if they enjoyed their experience. Reiterate to them how important referrals are to your business and if they have anything negative to say ask them to bring it up with you privately so you can make it right.
What if you get a bad review?
Oy! A negative review can be even more powerfully influential social proof not to buy than a positive review can be for buying. Avoiding negative reviews by always delivering the best product and service is ideal but sometimes certain customers are hard to please or maybe you really did mess up. If you get a bad review on Facebook or other social site, sometimes you can contest it by contacting customer service. You can also contact the customer directly and ask them to remove or change the review after you’ve done everything you can to remedy the situation. If that doesn’t work, make sure you have as many positive reviews as possible in the same place to counter the negative review.
For more tips on wowing your clients with amazing customer service, check out the Wedding Photography Communication & Planning Workshop, where you’ll learn how to book clients and guarantee a great experience .
If you have the time, and willing clients, capturing their testimonials on video or having them create their own will be like pure gold for your business. Social proof is exponentially increased when your client can see a face and hear a voice endorse a product or service, especially if it’s a person they know and want to be like. It’s quick and easy to combine video clips and photos to make short testimonial videos using Animoto. Have you made a client testimonial video? Post a link to it in the comments. I would love to see it.
Even more powerful than your client’s review on your website or social media page would be a positive review or endorsement on theirs. If someone takes the time and effort to sing your praises on their territory or refer a friend in private, it’s perceived as very solid social proof they really loved the product or service they received. Asking your client to share their testimonial with their following might feel weird, but if you don’t ask, chances are they won’t share (unless they’re one of a select few who naturally like to promote others). Gather up some courage and ask your clients to endorse you and refer you to their friends by posting on their social media or blog or by giving your business card to friends. You can do it! The results will surprise you.
For more information about social proof and how to use it to boost your visibility online, check out our SEO for Photographers ebook. The following articles are also helpful resources for learning to market your photography business.