Whether skimming through product reviews before adding an item to your cart or browsing a landing page for testimonials and case studies before scheduling a service, the power of social proof is undeniable. Its presence is integral to the formation of consumer opinion and purchase decisions.
Particularly within brand switching decisions, recommendations and reviews are considered more heavily than paid media like TV, radio and online ads. The Nielson 2021 Trust in Advertising study found that 88% of respondents listed recommendations from people they know as the most trustworthy source of information among more than 20 sources considered.
This trust in others’ recommendations is based on the perceived credibility of the communication. Rather than marketer-initiated communication that is biased, third-party recommendations are independent opinions that come from real people. They have no ulterior motive for recommending a brand.
The Theory Behind Social Proof
The power of social proof lies in the psychology of decision-making. Based on the heuristic-systematic model, there are two distinct modes of information processing: systematic and heuristic. Systematic processing requires more effort and time due to the careful attention and deep thinking required for this type of reasoning. In contrast, heuristic processing is a more efficient and simplified mode of information processing that relies on heuristics, otherwise known as mental shortcuts. These heuristics are intuitive associations or rules of thumb that help reduce the time and effort needed to make a decision. For example, the bandwagon heuristic indicates a collective endorsement. In this instance, the combined experience portrayed by the social proof persuades action. If the product or service was found beneficial for the third party, consumers will reason that it should also be beneficial for them. The stronger the social proof, the more influential it will be in the decision-making process.
Transforming your Clients into Brand Champions
Extend your social proof efforts beyond case studies, testimonials and reviews. Cultivate social proof and encourage word of mouth by supplying your clients with branded merch. With each use, your clients endorse your company and give a visual 5-star review. As brand champions, their enthusiasm for your brand shines through even without a spoken recommendation. Activating your brand champions through branded merch helps you gain exposure while boosting your social proof.
If your branded merchandise sits tucked away in a drawer hidden from onlooking eyes or gets thrown away, then your promotion has failed. Therefore, when designing custom branded merchandise, you need to ensure its usefulness and desirability. Consider your audience’s lifestyle. What products could seamlessly be intertwined? Next, think about the emotion that you want the branded merch to create. What do you want your customer to think and feel each time they use your branded merch? Lastly, consider the imprint. Focus less on plastering your logo across the merch and more on creating an intriguing design that incorporates your company’s branding. There are so many customization options out there. The more creative and unique, the more wowed your customers will be when they unbox their new branded merch.
Ready to transform your clients into brand champions? The Promo Assets team is here to help you design compelling branded merch that will be held onto. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started on a project or to learn more.