Everyone is skeptical these days…
“Oh, you’re a copywriter?”
“You have the best coffee in New York?”
Watch the video version of this whole post:
In today’s world, if you can’t back up your claims, you’re gonna have a hard time in business (and life). The good news is, sometimes a few tweaks are all that’s needed to gain the trust of potential buyers.
Here are 20 real life examples of social proof and other clever trust-builders. Take a gander and see which you can apply in your life:
#1.) A doctor showing proof:
You can tell this guy is a doctor because he’s wearing a white coat, a class ring, big smart people glasses, and has diplomas hanging on the wall. Well, jokes on you…
...because this guy actually fooled everyone into thinking he was a real doctor in California for over TWENTY years!
Now that’s the power of proof.
Proof Type: Outfit, Displaying awards and diplomas
#2.) A nightclub showing proof:
By artificially keeping lines long, nightclubs use social proof to make their club look more popular than it really is.
Proof Type: Manufactured social proof
#3.) Copywriting Course showing proof:
Here’s just one of many trust-building sections on the Copywriting Course About Page. After seeing social proof numbers like these, it’s hard to be skeptical. If millions of people are following a blog, it probably has something good to say.
So, if you have social proof, don’t be afraid to flaunt it!
Proof Type: Social proof, Data and statistics
#4.) A travel blog showing proof:
Unlike Copywriting Course, my humble Project Untethered blog doesn’t have millions of people reading it. If you are just starting and don’t have social proof to show, try getting featured in a popular publication to borrow some of their brand’s credibility (it’s pretty easy if you sign up for HARO).
Proof Type: Leverage trust from recognizable brand names
#5.) Amazon showing proof:
Nobody wants to waste time or money on books and products that suck. Amazon knows this and makes sure to add proof nuggets all throughout the page.
Proof Type: Awards, Reviews, Sample
#6.) A personal trainer showing proof:
My buddy runs a gym in Australia and is constantly filling his Instagram feed with different types of proof to boost his credibility. It’s impossible to scroll through his feed and NOT believe in his skills.
Proof Type: Before/After images, Free samples, Social proof, Examples
#7.) A police officer showing proof:
Appearances are an easy way to instantly build trust and credibility. Whenever you see someone in uniform or well-dressed, you respect them, trust them, and assume they’re important (this is a con man’s secret weapon, btw).
Proof Type: Appearances/Uniform
#8.) A barber showing proof:
This barber shows a portfolio of his work online to prove he knows his stuff. I’m sure he also has these pics posted around his barbershop. This is way more effective than other barbers who all use the same posters of generic hairdos from the 80s.
Proof Type: Case study, Photo proof
#9.) A digital nomad showing proof:
If I were selling a course on how to work from anywhere, this photo I snapped of myself writing this article would be a great proof element to add.
Now, we all know anyone can use photoshop and pose in cool places with their laptop… but there’s no denying these types of photos excite the reader and make you more believable.
Proof Type: Photo of the desire
#10.) A restaurant showing proof:
You’re walking down the street and see two pizza shops right next to each other. One has these stickers on the door, the other has no stickers. Which one will you trust more to whip you up some delicious ‘za?
Even if you weren’t an award winner, just displaying the Tripadvisor logo makes you more credible by association. Case in point: this beach bar painted the logo on their sign, and they were twice as packed as the rest of the bars.
Proof Type: Awards, Association with known brands
#11.) Grant Cardone showing proof:
Proof Type: Photos
#12.) A Craigslist seller showing proof:
It’s natural to be suspicious reading Craigslist listings for 20-year-old vehicles in PERFECT condition. Like, really guy? Be honest!
This person’s ad is upfront and honest, proving he can be trusted.
Adding the VIN report adds even more transparency. You don’t have to take his word that the car has a clean history, you can check the report yourself.
Proof Type: Honesty about negatives, Data to support claims
#13.) Bounty showing proof:
Is your product better than your competitors? Prove it by running a test or experiment and showing off the results.
Proof Type: Your product vs. competition experiment
#14.) Construction company showing proof:
If you sell a service that involves ANY type of physical transformation, before/after pics are your best friend. Before trusting you, people want to know exactly what you’re capable of. Don’t make them wonder if you can get the job done.
Proof Type: Before and After pics
#15.) Neville showing proof:
Neville went to a conference and took a bunch of pics of himself with famous copywriters. Talk about an instant credibility builder!
Proof Type: Photos with famous people
#16.) Airbnb showing proof:
Instead of working hard to convince new customers to trust you, why not start a referral program and let your current customers build that trust for you?
If your client recommends you to their friends, you gain instant credibility.
Proof Type: Leveraging trust between friends
#17.) A tattoo artist showing proof:
If you sell something that requires expert skill (especially if it’s permanent like a tattoo), the best way to show proof is with a killer portfolio.
You can TELL people about your mad skills ‘til the cows come home, but until you actually SHOW them, nobody will trust you.
Proof Type: Portfolio (show, don’t tell)
#18.) A smart person showing proof:
If you attended an elite school or program, you’re obviously gonna put it on your resume. But why stop there?
Names like Harvard create implicit trust...even if that trust has nothing to do with what was studied. Think about it. Say you’re buying a used car and find out the seller went to Harvard. Chances are you’d subconsciously be a little more trusting when he tells you the car has no mechanical problems.
So if you are associated in any way to a respectable name, use it to your advantage!
Proof Type: Trust by association
#19.) A lawyer showing proof:
Want to build instant trust? Put your money where your mouth is. Offering a risk-free guarantee takes balls—something no sane person would do unless they are confident in their abilities. It’s one of the best ways to overcome skepticism.
Proof Type: Guarantee
#20.) A counterfeiter showing proof:
Imagine you’re on vacation in Thailand and want a new iPhone. One shop is selling them for $160. Another shop for $1449. Naturally, you assume the $1449 iPhone is genuine, and the $160 is fake. It costs more, so it must be authentic….right?
When pricing your products, keep in mind that higher prices imply quality, while cheap prices imply crap.
Proof Type: Higher prices
WARNING: Use the Power of Proof Responsibly
With great power comes great responsibility…
Please don’t be that douche who uses these trust-enhancing tricks to scam people.
Sure, you can make a quick buck fooling people into buying crappy products. But once trust is shattered, it’s impossible to win back. Eventually, your reputation will catch up with you.
Remember, gaining trust is only the first step. True success comes from taking that trust and transforming it into a long-lasting relationship.
So use the power for good, not evil!
TLDR: Social Proof + Trust-Building Strategies
Hope this helps!
Post by Mitch Glass and Neville Medhora