Are You Demonstrating Enough Proof?

By Yaro Starak
45 Comments

Testimonial: Yaro is the best...If you’ve been reading my blog over the last few months you’ve seen me publish quite a few successful case study podcasts with my coaching students. Stories like Alborz Fallah the million dollar blogger, Leigh Peele making $4,500 a month in the fat loss niche (and recently another $11K in a relaunch), Miami Mitch attracting thousands of readers to his college football blog and Leslie the freebie guy who made $31K last year in the freebies market while still working a full time job as a teacher.

I love case studies as learning tools, and podcast interviews make great blog content, so I’d publish these regardless of whether the people involved are students of mine or not (most of my podcast archives are full of successful people who are not my students), however it makes smart business sense for me to showcase my best members because they offer the most powerful demonstration of proof I can present.

Proof, in my opinion, is the single most persuasive element of any marketing campaign, especially if you are an information publisher. I think it’s safe to say that most top Internet marketers agree with me simply by how they market their own products. There hasn’t been a single sales page or launch process that doesn’t involve people talking about how successful they became after studying the information the product offers.

Proof is so prevalent as a marketing hook today, that many successful launches are hinged on the back of just one success story. The power of the story – and the proof demonstrated within – is enough to convince hundreds and even thousands of people to purchase the product. If you don’t understand this and use proof to your advantage with your own marketing campaigns, you’re making a huge mistake.

Why Proof Works

There’s a very clear reason why proof is a powerful marketing tool. When making a purchasing decision, some of the big concerns a customer has is whether what is on offer is a scam, or won’t work for someone like them, or is more hype than substance. Regardless of the objection, proof is the best psychology we have to destroy it when it comes to purchasing decisions.

I don’t really need to explain this to you, you already understand and experience proof. Most of the new product buying decisions you make today, especially online, occur usually because you have some kind of proof that it’s a good product. The proof may simply be a friend or trusted expert recommendation, like for example me talking about how amazing AWeber has been for my business and showing how I use it to build profitable email lists.

What Kind Of Proof Do You Need?

Proof comes in many shapes and forms. It can be something simple, like a text testimonial from a previous customer, or even just a comment left to a blog post. You can take it further by recording a video interview, or doing full blown case study podcasts as I do.

In general there are two kinds of proof that are prevalent in most information product marketing campaigns, they are –

  1. Proof that the creator of the product has done what is he or she is teaching or selling
  2. Proof that other people have bought the product and then experienced the same or similar results as an outcome

The second type of proof is more powerful because people are more inclined to believe and resonate with the proof when they see that the person has come from a similar place as them, with similar circumstances, and then been able to buy the product and get a result.

It’s almost as important that the person selling the product is able to show proof that they have walked the path they are proposing to teach. Although skepticism is more prevalent in your audience when you talk about your own results, provided you can demonstrate tangible outcomes, your own proof is a powerful persuasion point.

In product launch campaigns, it’s often the story behind the person who is selling the information that carries the marketing. For example, the “reluctant hero” is a classic tale of proof, explaining how a person was able to go from an average joe-off-the-street and turn around their life into a successful outcome, whether that be making money, learning to play an instrument, having success with the opposite sex, losing weight, or whatever the product is about. The every day joe turned hero is then in a place to teach the next group of average joes, who connect with the story and see the possibility that they too can be the next hero if they just buy the product.

Believability plays a big part in this process. As more marketers show similar proof, for example in the make money online niche, pictures of sports cars, mansions, huge checks, Paypal email receipts and Clickbank balances, are the norm. They are still very persuasive, especially for those people new to Internet marketing sales pages, but as they experience more and more of them, the power of this form of proof wanes.

Volume of proof is also important. As your business grows, which should mean you are delivering value to people, the amount of unsolicited positive feedback you receive will increase. It’s a natural side effect, which you can encourage if you need to (in which case it’s not “unsolicited”, but that doesn’t necessarily make it less valid), and can be turned into a powerful proof tool. Showing page after page of testimonials can be very persuasive, simply because of the volume.

When I was building my previous business BetterEdit.com, over the years we received quite a mountain of emails from satisfied clients. I took the best testimonials and put them on to our website. We quickly outgrew just one page of testimonials (and a long page at that) and today there are nine pages of testimonials with the new owners of the business continuing to add more as they come in. Seeing the volume of testimonials and that they have been coming in for many years demonstrating how long the business has been delivering great results, is a powerfully compelling message of proof.

How To Get Started Demonstrating Proof

Now that I’ve convinced you of the power of proof, or reminded you to look again at this critical element of your marketing process, you have to think about how best to demonstrate proof to your potential customers.

Here’s a list of ideas you can implement no matter how big or small your business.

There are many more things you can do to collect proof elements. Some experts advocate an automatic testimonial gathering system, for example an email in your follow-up sequence that automatically asks people to leave feedback in a certain place (like a guestbook or via email reply) so you always have a repository of great testimonials ready for use.

In your case it depends how developed your business is. If you’re just starting and you haven’t really helped that many people, then getting those first few testimonials can be tough. As you grow though, you will find positive feedback comes in passively assuming you continue to over-deliver on the promises you make, both in what you give to paying customers and what you offer for free.

What’s important is that you make use of proof in your marketing process and that you don’t fake it. Genuine proof is powerful and a must-have element in your sales pages or any marketing related messages where it makes sense to include it. I guarantee you, the better your proof, the more case studies, testimonials, videos and pictures you can show people, the more sales you will make.

Yaro Starak
Proving It

PS. My sales page currently features me in the car I own – an 08 Suzuki Swift. I bought a car that is practical for my needs, however a few individuals have challenged me asking if I make so much money online, why would I have such a basic car?

For the disbelievers, people who are compelled by photos of nice cars, and as a further demonstration of proof of my success, I took a couple of photos of me with my other cars* –

Aston Martin

Ferrari

* I don’t really own these cars. I just couldn’t find them in a color I liked ;-)

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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45 Comments

  • Story really sells. It enable prospects to closely ‘forecast’ what will happen if they purchase the product. “Hmm… If he can do that, maybe I can get similar result with this product.” Just don’t forget to put disclaimers in case customers buy and later complain it’s not working. Excellent tips, Yaro.

  • Wim

    That makes total sense, Yaro. Thanks for another great post.
    I have a suggestion: You mention relaunching products, both yours and Leigh’s. If you feel like it, could you do a post on that? As in, what are the differences between a launch and a relaunch?
    I for one would be really interested in reading your take on this.

    Thanks,

    Wim

  • Hey Yaro,

    I have some friendly type emails that go out in my autoresponder and even a specific one to ask people what their problems are in business. Almost daily I get emails from people responding to my call, it’s a great eye opener.

    I think though that I’ll put a more specific email asking about their experience with me, if I’ve helped them out. The autoresponder is a great option to do this and so far, it’s been rather delightful to get the feedback. Plus, it immediately puts me into direct email contact with my subscribers. :-)

    • I am personally turned off when I recieve e mail that has obviously come from an auto responder program. I believe that a personalized email, however short, is far more effective. If you are just too busy to do it yourself, there are many low cost freelancers out there who can be employed at little cost to do it for you.

  • Hey Yaro,

    Everyone need some proof in order to convince them and by showing them proof of success in sales pages will definitely increase the % of conversion.

    By the way, the 2nd picture is taken in Singapore isn’t it? I hope you enjoyed the trip :)

    Cheers
    Vincent
    Personal Development Blogger

  • One of the things that drew me to Blog Mastermind was that you had such a modest car. I’ve had friends run MLM programs by me with stories of mansions, big cars and beach houses, but that modest car of yours is one of the key things that sold me on BMM. Because that car told me that you have common sense.

    My blog doesn’t necessarily get a lot of comments, but I get emails. One told me that mine is the only blog she reads and how she looks forward to the feed coming in her mail. For another reader, I did a solid (no big thang for me but it meant a lot to him), so I got a “thank you/I love you” email.

    Do I need permission to post the content of those emails? I wouldn’t identify the sender.

    • You really should ask. If you only use the first name you can risk it without asking (or not identify them at all – but that weakens your testimonial), but as a rule I prefer to ask people just to be safe.

  • Indeed at the start it’s difficult to get them but over time it did happen to me. And its just amazing when people complement what you do and actually tell you great things.

    Enjoyed the car thing at the end.:) Thanks for a great post.

  • Unfortunately a lot of people leave out that crucial step of providing proof since it’s extra work, but it’s so worth it. If you’re providing top quality products/services/information, your customers and readers will gladly give you feedback if you simply ask them for it. I think a lot of marketers are either lazy or scared – maybe a bit of both. Too lazy to do the extra work or too scared to get bad feedback (or none at all!).

    Btw, that Suzuki Swift is so cute! Love it when people who have a bit of money don’t feel the need to flaunt it in everyone’s face with big flashy cars.

    • Right on Cassie. I believe laziness is a huge issue and the biggest cause of failure.

      Yes my car is definitely cute, not sure if that’s a good thing though :-)

  • Mike

    Super headline Yaro. Grabbed me, and threw me to the ground! Just had to read. Article was good too of course. But the headline….tops.

  • Yaro, I am proof that your program works. Although my Freebie Business has made me good money in my first year, since I started Blog Mastermind and launched my blog, I’ve been able to grow significantly, and make money much easier than before. Your program is as solid as it gets and DEFINITELY not a scam.

  • Yaro

    Those pictures of fast cars & pay cheques may be great for the guys but they leave me cold – but when you tell me that someone’s successful internet business means they could spend more time with their family or earn a living doing something they love, then you’ve got me hooked.

    Remember men are for cars and women from Venus.

    http://www.heatheronhertravels.com/making-the-most-of-the-web-at-the-world-travel-market/

  • Hi Yaro,
    Brilliant info on your blog.
    I’m trying to learn more about video marketing for blogging. Are you into that?
    I made a video just over a week agao to see if it would boost traffic and have seen clear results. Have you thought about running a video competition? It certainly attracts attention and loads of traffic. My first video was not the greatest quality but still increased traffic to my blog as I featured other competition entries. Love to hear your comments on this.
    Gaielle
    SharpMarketingMethod

  • Yaro, Its this practical approach of yours to life that I enjoy best. You are believable. I have been reading your blog for over six months now, and it has been a learning experience. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and your theories.

  • One of the best way to show proof is to give away your best techniques. Let your prospects see what you’ve got, let them apply it and prove to themselves that your stuff works.

    That’s the stuff I always advise beginners to do to get those testimonials.

    • Agree… Giving value upfront is definitely the best way to gain trust from your prospects. This way, they will see you as a real expert and willing to listen to what you have to offer. It’s the concept of attraction marketing – you get chased by your prospects instead of you chasing them.

  • Yaro,

    That Ferarri looks good on you! :D

    About proving your worth, testimonial is and will always be a great make-believe tool.

    Unfortunately, scammers use fake testimonials (including fake guy-with-porche picture, cropped-and-edited income proof, etc – like what you mentioned in this post).

    My question is, how to let your readers know that you are not, well, a scammer? How to present yourself different to those ppl?

    Cheers!

    • Hi noobpreneur,

      I’m happy to answer this. When I get testimonials, I get permission to use not only their full name, but their company name and company website as well. I position this as an advertising win for them, as it gets them exposure from everyone who reads the sales letter, as well as an additional link to their site. Almost always they agree. Do this, and people will know that it’s real.

      -Erica

  • Hey Yaro,
    This maybe a sad reflection of the whole ‘make money online’ sector but you are one of just 4 bloggers that I not only read but that I believe. This industry is riddled with snake oil sales men but I have to say that all you have delivered so far is honest to good advice that has a base in reality. I am sick of the guys who say they earned $20,000 in 2 days…jeez…treat us like adults at least. Good work my friend/

  • One really interesting fact I got from this post is that many of the testimonials are unsolicited. Forgive me for being a skeptic but I had assumed that most all of the testimonials were solicited in the best case or made up altogether in the worst case.

    I know I can’t be the only naysayer out there so what are some secrets to convincing your audience that you, your product, and your customers’ praises are legit?

    T

    • Not all testimonials are fakes or solicited.

      As a reader of blogs, I have left unsolicited testimonials when I felt something was really great. I have even gone so far to tell that person up front that they have my permission to use my comments in a testimonial.

      Additionally, there is nothing wrong with using a positive/nice comment that your blog received from one of your readers as testimonial, as Yaro mentioned just ask for their permission.

      Not everyone in this world is out to screw others over. I believe what you put out you get in return.

  • I agree its very important to show the customer that the person creating the product has credibility and is well known. If you show the proof, more people will buy your product

  • Readers want to feel a connection with the author and telling your story is a great way in achieving that end. Lately, will the influx of videos cropping up all over the Web, purchasing a cheap Flip Video Mino and actually recording your customer’s success stories makes such an amazing marketing tool.

  • Another post that really resonated with me. After studying copywriting from master copywriter Gary Bencivenga I’ve realized for the first time the power of the element of proof.

    Proof truly is the most important part of marketing. Sometimes I build my whole marketing strategy around proof and it always works like a charm.

    Thanks for this post.

    Andy

  • In this hard time, many will not spend their money if they cannot see any proof on how they can benefit from what they buy. Thanks Yaro

  • Hi Yaro,

    It seems that a blog’s success, namely in the number of visits and advertising also has t odo with its niche.
    Mine is about art and I guess that it’s more difficult to become successful than one about health or celebs, but one has to write about one’s preferences, otherwise it would become boring.
    I believe that showing to your readers that your passionate about what you write makes them want to come back and makes them closer to you.
    It’s like watching an actor who really gets into the character.

    Kind regards,

    José

  • I’m always a sucker for the ebooks with “proof of earnings” in clickbank accounts, half of that stuff is probably fake anyway, but it gets me every time!!;)

    • I say those proof of earnings are true… but what most of them don’t disclose is the amount of expenditure. I doubt their net profits is just slightly below their revenue. But yeah, they really arise my curiosity to know more about what they’re doing.

  • It’s actually quite difficult to build trust online, showing proof of earnings works to an extend but honestly way too many of them are fake.

    I get many ebooks for free to review on my sites and so many of them are just garbage. Proof or no proof trust needs to be built before I buy or recommend anything.

    I’m definitely going to check out those interviews.

    Steve

  • You are totally right; without proving that your product is good and is worth spending money on it, no customer will give you at least 1 cent. Thanks for great tips on demonstrating proof. They all are worth trying, especially creating a guest book in forum, and taking interview from customers.

  • >>> For example, the “reluctant hero” is a classic tale of proof <<<

    You stole this from Frank Kern and did not give a credit to him. Yaro, do you think your audience do not indulge in marketing knowledge as much as you do?

  • No matter what sales letter you look at there are “undeniable proof” and testimonials that the product or system works but there is often no way to contact these people who have bought the product to ask them about it, not even through the vendor.

    I think that the best “incentive” for people to buy online is a 60 day money-back guarantee.They have nothing to lose, and the longer the guarantee the less refunds.

  • A popular way to prove yourself to readers/prospects is to tell them how much you earn from the system or ebook you’re selling. But most people don’t realize they are usually talking about gross income, not net. They may indeed make $250,000 using their system but if they spend $245,000 on PPC costs the results become far less impressive.

    Even screenshots of Clickbank checks and Paypal accounts should be taken with a grain of salt because they can be altered.

    Of course the great majority of marketer’s claims are probably true…but the bad apples force you to be skeptical of them all.

  • Great, great post, Yaro. The kind of proof you talk about here is something which comes with hard work, giving information away for free, and time.

    Another key ingredient is being personable. I tend to order products from people who I find to be likable and approachable. The opposite is true for those who I find pushy and full of crap, essentially.

    Wesley
    The Geek Entrepreneur

  • You know what they say…Proof is in the pudding! Usually, the best form of claim, is that your clients can’t stop praising you. They can be an awesome form of advertisement if you provide for that client what is sold to them and you deliver the goods.
    I say just make it happen!

  • who wants to buy a product that is not tried and true…good article.

  • I think a testament to social proof lies in “traditional” marketing. When I used to work in the marketing dept. of a Fortune 500 company we were always trying to quantify and wrap our arms around “word of mouth” advertising. Reason being is that companies know that if a friend of yours tells you about a good or bad experience with a certain company or product, that is going to influence your buying decision.

    What Yaro is talking about here with social proof is the same concept in a virtual community. If someone sees a person that is similar to themselves and that person is recommending a product, it will typically have an effect on the purchase habits of the prospecitve buyer.

  • Those car photos are pretty funny. Did you get the sales rep to take those for you? Anyway, I think that there is a lot of power in proof. It seems that so many people over exaggerate everything that they know and say that they can do. This especially is the case on the internet, where you don’t get to see someone face to face. I think that screenshots of analytics have a much better impact than philosophies and ideals.

  • Proof, or ‘Social Proof’, is a really vast topic. Read the book : ‘Influence’. It has a full chapter on social proof.

  • Showing proof is a major thing in today’s world. Also it is getting harder to tell what is true anymore. With so many scandals going on in the business world it is hard to know who you can trust and what is real. I like to see some testimonials or some kind of feedback on a website that sell anything. I have testimonials on my site and am planning on expanding the feedback from customers to give other customers a encouragement to buy from us because they know they can trust us.

  • @Vincent.. You’re right, ‘coz of its Plate number and the establishment where he parked his car..

  • Yea, sometimes people disbelieved our proof, that’s annoying.
    Screenshot then they will say it’s photoshoped.
    Picture then they will say you’re lying.
    Keep trying… :)

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