Tactic #186 - Frame your products in the best light possible: "number 1", "best selling", "fastest growing"
Studies have shown that individuals tend to follow others' choices or behaviour when trying to make decisions.
We automatically presume that if lots of our peers are doing something or buying a particular product then it is for a good reason and that we would do well to follow their example. We think that other people probably have more knowledge or information about something than we do and therefore it is best to make similar choices.
This is why we are so likely to look for reviews, testimonials or other peer opinions before making a decision on where to go or what to buy. Presenting your product as the #1 (be that the best rated, best selling or fastest growing etc.) immediately implies that if they purchase it then they will be joining a large community of others who have made the same decision, giving them confidence and satisfaction with their purchase decision.
- Social Proof (Sherif, 1935; Asch, 1956)
This principle was first explored by social psychologist Sherif in 1935, and later developed by Asch in 1956. Social proof is the idea that we are intrinsically driven to conform and so will often be influenced to copy others’ decisions and actions, especially when we are hesitating or feel as though we don’t have enough information of our own. We tend to assume that surrounding people possess more knowledge of any given situation and that the actions of others therefore reflect correct behaviour.
This social proof principle is driven by our natural desire to behave “correctly” under most circumstances: we are social and tribal beings, and what others think, say or do is important to us and can be a powerful motivator. This principle also relies on a sense of ‘safety in numbers’, meaning if we are all doing the same thing then we feel we are protected and validated in some way. For example, we’re more likely to work late if others in our team are doing the same, put a tip in a jar if it already contains money, or eat in a restaurant if it’s busy. We assume that if others are behaving a certain way then it must be for a reason: the restaurant is good, the service deserves tipping, the work needs to be finished, etc.
Social proof also applies to marketing and sales. For example, online marketing strategies such as displaying validation logos, subscriber count, social shares or testimonials on a website are all based on the social proof principle. The amount of followers, views, likes, subscribers or past satisfied customers that a user sees positively affects how they will perceive the website. It’s for this reason that we consult TripAdvisor for hotels and restaurants, Consumer Reports before making purchases, Kayak for flight choices, Yelp for eating out, and so on. We want to check and validate our decisions before we make them to ensure we are adhering to the same behaviour as our peers and put a lot of stock in what their testimonials and actions tell us.
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