One of my clients recently published an article about social cognition–our ability to learn from other humans rather than through direct experience. For example, if we see everyone outside bundled up in scarfs and coats, we make the intellectual leap that it is cold out while never leaving the comforts of a warm house ourselves.
We learn a lot of information through social cognition, which is why testimonials and case studies (success stories) are such an important tool for marketing. Whether they are presented in writing, video or photographs, information about how current customers experience your business is an important incentive for new customers.
The best testimonials and case studies deliver specific facts about what you do and how you do it in plain, every day language. Let your customers speak for themselves; marketing jargon or vague comments like “he’s great to work with” will not convince anyone. If possible, ask a third party to interview your customers because customers are likely to be more open and because you are likely to prejudge what they have to say, losing a great opportunity to find out how your business really affects customers. Social cognition works both ways: if your customers feel an expectation from you for certain words, they are likely to provide them whether or not they truly believe them.
When I interview your customers, I begin by interviewing you, the business owner. I want to be an informed interviewer, and I want to know why this particular project or customer relationship stood out in your mind. Then I ask your customers about their experience and often find that they are grateful for benefits of your work that you didn’t even consider. But those benefits are the same ones that will make you appealing to future customers and set you aside from the competition.
Social cognition is a powerful tool. Let me help you make use of it with testimonials and case studies.