Social Proof: How To Get It And Use It On Your Consulting Website

In Your Marketing, Your Website by Tsavo

My hands were shaking.  It was the first lead that came straight through my website.

“What was I going to say?”

“Did I do enough research on their business?”

“How much advice do I want to give away for free?”

I tapped my desk with my fingers, staring at the second’s hand on the little clock on my phone.

And finally, the time came.

I took a deep breath and made the call.

Ring.  Ring.  Ring.

He picked up.  I squeaked out a few words.

The first thing he said back?

“I was astonished to see my good friend on your website. He had helped me and my family settle into Canada. I’ve known him for over a decade.”

I felt my shoulders begin to relax. The tightness in my chest melted away. I leaned back in my chair.

From that point on, I felt as though I was having a conversation with a friend.

Consulting is a relationship business — and technology has changed the way we start and develop relationships.  Instead of creating a “testimonials” page, sprinkle your testimonials throughout your consulting website. You never know who is going to see a familiar face.

It’s an incredible feeling when your website works for YOU — helping you build a level of familiarity and trust with your potential clients when you’re not even there.

Social proof is one of the most critical elements of marketing and sales. For consultants, it’s the most important piece of your marketing puzzle.

The more you can use honest, genuine social proof, the more trust you will build with your potential clients. That means you want to use it throughout your entire site and on many pages instead of hiding them in your sidebar or a testimonials page.

By the end of this article, you will…

  • Understand why social proof is important for helping you attract and develop new business
  • Know what types of social proof to include on your website
  • Know how to get testimonials from your clients even if you hate asking for them

How To Ask For Testimonials

There are three different types of testimonials you want to gather for your website, in order of importance:

1. Project social proof

Project social proof is social proof in the form of testimonials from your happy clients on successful projects — the most important tool in your social proof arsenal.

This type of social proof is also hardest to acquire, as it requires your client to do some writing.

[See the script below for the best method of acquiring this.]

Project social proof, when done right, paints the picture of how your client’s life would look after working with you:

Our portfolios are our best tools of inspiration. They show the client what could be. They show him what others have done. Our examples of our best work paint the picture of the beautiful world on the other side of his pain. Inspiration is the primary role of our website, our brochure, our sales collateral and our in-person portfolio review. It need not even be our own work that we show here to inspire the interested, just inspirational outcomes.

-Blair Enns, A Win Without Pitching Manifesto

Testimonials can provide an excellent boost to your case studies. Insert them at the beginning or end of each case study, and you’ll have a far more persuasive case study.

2. Content social proof

Content social proof is social proof that relates to your content — your articles, newsletter, lead-magnets, etc. These are often the most ignored, yet important forms of social proof you can have.

Generating business online involves your prospects reading your content, signing up for your newsletter, and scheduling a consultation. You must have social proof to smoothen their journey through your funnel. Social proof is the lubricant that helps move them from one point of your funnel to the next.

Asking for content social proof is simple.

Sometimes you’ll get it organically. Whenever someone has told you anything positive they’ve learned from your content, ask them if you’re able to share that. 99% of the time, they will say yes. Collect these little mini-testimonials and use them.

Other times, you’ll have to ask for it. Whenever you’ve sent someone a piece of content that you believe they will benefit from, follow up with them and ask them to give you a sentence or two on what they’ve learned from it.

These types of testimonials also work well in the form of screen captures, like this:

3. Design social proof

Certain elements of your website can dramatically increase your perceived credibility.

Design social proof is social proof elements related to the design of your website, outside of general professionalism your website should convey.

Professional headshots, pictures of you speaking in front of a crowd, pictures of your books, video’s of you speaking, etc — all these elements can be just as effective as testimonials from your clients. They depict you as an expert by showing you “in action.”

Plus, it shows that you’re making an investment in your brand and your marketing, which tells your potential clients a lot about you.

4. Logo social proof

The weakest form of social proof, is simply including logos of clients you’ve worked with, or publications where you’ve been featured.

It’s still a nice touch to add to your consulting website — especially when it’s close to a professional photo of you (speaking is a huge plus). Despite it being the weakest form of social proof, it’s still a must-have for your consulting website (especially on your homepage).

Generally, you don’t have to ask to use someone’s logo once you’ve worked with them — but to be safe, always ask.

By combining all these elements of social proof on your consulting website, every page of your website will be far more persuasive.

Do’s and Don’ts

DO: Use Sean D’Souzas infamous testimonial questions.

Testimonials are far more persuasive when they tell a story. When they tell a story, they help answer your prospect’s objections.

The six questions you need to ask to get a powerful testimonial are:

1) What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this product/service?

2) What did you find as a result of buying this product/service?

3) What specific feature did you like most about this product/service?

4) What would be three other benefits about this product/service?

5) Would you recommend this product/service? If so, why?

6) Is there anything you’d like to add?

These questions are fantastic because of the order in which they are asked. The obstacles addressed are the objections that your prospective clients are wondering as they scroll through your website. The rest of the testimonial help answers the “why” and “how” your services and expertise overcame said obstacles.

DO: Get your testimonials in the form of LinkedIn recommendations first. 

When you get your testimonials on LinkedIn first, they are added to your LinkedIn profile, you can use them freely on your website.

If you ask them for the testimonial via email, you’ll have to ask them again to use the same testimonial for a recommendation for LinkedIn.

It’s a subtle difference, but the former creates less work for your client, and that’s key to getting that testimonial.

A LinkedIn full of recommendations for you to use elsewhere in your marketing collateral creates a fantastic consistency of social proof.

Here is a script you can use when asking for testimonials. Send this to your client a few weeks after the project is complete, and you have some data to bolster your case study:

Hi {NAME},

I hope you are well and business is good.

As you know, testimonials go along way for winning new business. I would deeply appreciate a recommendation from you here on LinkedIn for our project we worked together on {DATE}.

Would you be so kind as to write me a recommendation?

Here’s a simple outline you can follow:

1) What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this service?

2) What did you find as a result of buying this service?

3) What specific feature did you like most about this service?

4) What would be three other benefits about this service?

5) Would you recommend this service? If so, why?

6) Is there anything you’d like to add?

I don’t want to create extra work for you, so if you don’t have the time to write one you can use the one I’ve written below:

{INSERT YOUR VERSION OF THE TESTIMONIAL}

Feel free to copy and paste this as your recommendation.

And as always, please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.

Thanks {NAME}!

—{Your Name}

DO: Make your testimonials your “About” Page. 

If you have both an “About” page and a “Testimonials” page, I’m going to challenge you to merge the two.

What’s more effective: you yourself talking about how great you are, or your clients doing it for you?

If you don’t blow your own horn, there is no music. And if your clients and others blow the horns through testimonials, then you have an orchestra playing in harmony, and with inspiration.

-Million Dollar Web Presence, Alan Weiss & Chad Barr

Flipping your About page into a page where your clients do the talking about you makes for much better copy, and is much more believable for your prospects to read.

DON’T: Fake testimonials.

Never fake your social proof. You’ll feel bad about it, and it’s going to create a disjointed experience for your potential clients. If anyone finds out, that’s your reputation.

You’re going to have to ask to get social proof, and that will be uncomfortable — but it’s much better than making it up, which diminishes the trust you have in yourself, and the trust your target audience will have in you.

Action Steps:

If you have a “Testimonials” page…

Your goal is to take this page apart and use your testimonials more strategically throughout your website. Aim to use at least one per page on your website.

Same goes if you have testimonials, but aren’t yet using them on your website. Instead of creating a “Testimonials” page, work them into different sections of each page of your consulting website.

Always aim to use a picture of your client, as well as their name, company, and job title. Putting a face to the story is how you can use your website and your social proof to establish the level of trust you want with your prospective client. Video is even better.

If you don’t have testimonials yet, or you aren’t satisfied with them…

It’s time to start asking your clients for them. Use the script above to acquire these testimonials.

Are you using social proof on your website?

What do you think is the most effective form of social proof for your digital presence as a consultant?

Leave your comments in the comment section below.