4 Ways to Bolster Your Marketing Claims with Proof

by mforeman on May 23, 2012

Show proof for your marketing claims.

Alien King? PROVE IT.

Last week, my wife and I attended the UFO Fest in McMinnville, OR. They have a parade every year where locals dress up as aliens, wear tin-foil hats, act goofy as hell and generally have a lot of fun. Plus there’s beer and food and that guy talking about Bigfoot through a megaphone, so yeah. Call it an anthropological study.

We also decided to take in one of the presentations before the parade, which happened to be on alien abductions. (I won’t go into it here, dear reader, but I will say I shook my head a lot.) At one point, when the speaker made a particularly shaky assertion, my wife leaned over to me and said – a little too loudly, mind you – “PROVE IT.”

We laughed about it the rest of the day, but of course she had a point. It’s become a recurring joke whenever someone makes a claim we doubt. At almost the same instant, we’ll blurt out, “PROVE IT.”

That’s just how we’re wired and, I’d guess, how most people are wired, too. At least when it comes to parting with their hard-earned cash (in our case, about twenty bucks). Your marketing will naturally make claims about what you offer. But you can’t expect customer or prospect to swallow it whole.

That’s why proof plays such a valuable role in marketing. People want to know they’re not taking too big a risk when they do business with you. Including evidence for your claims can bolster your argument in ways that sweet sounding words can’t all by themselves.

So how do you include proof in your marketing? Here are a few suggestions:

Testimonials

We’ll all take the word of a trusted friend, relative or associate over a flashy advertisement. It’s why social media is so effective at spreading word of mouth. But we’ll also respond to another satisfied customer who sings your praises, as long as it seems credible. Look for opportunities to elicit positive responses from your customers and include them in your web copy and other marketing collateral. When someone says nice things on social media, respond, re-post and promote it.

Case Studies

A case study is a sort of testimonial writ large. But there’s more to it than that. Case studies tell a story about how your product or service solved a specific problem for a customer. And they typically include hard facts about the results, as well as those convincing customer quotes. It’s the perfect way to demonstrate your claim, rather than just vocalize it, and the proof comes built right in. You can also zero in on particular facets of your business that broader marketing efforts just can’t convey.

Research Data

Smaller businesses won’t have budgets for extensive quantitative or qualitative research. But that data can be effective, so what can you do? There are plenty of organizations that freely offer up their research, or review the research of others. MarketingSherpa, MarketingCharts, Nielsen Wire and SymphonyIRI come to mind. Trade associations often do the same. (Of course books are good, too.) Keep an eye on these sources for stats that support claims in your marketing copy or content and add them to the mix. Just make sure your sources are reputable.

Impressive Statistics

I have HubSpot to thank for this one. It hadn’t occurred to me initially, maybe because it’s so obvious. The idea is that you find impressive statistics from your own business that demonstrate your successes. For instance, HubSpot explains that its software “generated 12.4 million leads in 2011.” McDonald’s advertises “Billions and Billions Served” on its signs. 37Signals is another great example: On its home page it explains how “millions of entrepreneurs, freelancers, small businesses and departments inside big organizations rely on our web apps.” If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

It’s been said that we make decisions based on emotion and then rationalize them later. That may be true, but providing solid evidence can make that rationalization easier.

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