In one day, we see more marketing communications than our grandparents did in a lifetime. Because we’re all busy people, we edit out anything that is not of direct interest to us, and our clients do the same. That’s why we have to give them as many shortcuts as we can, to make it easy for them to decide to use us.

One shortcut is ‘external endorsements’, because what someone else says about you is more convincing than anything you say yourself.

1. Use the power of social proof

  • If you sell products, you need reviews
  • If you sell services, you need testimonials
  • If you sell ‘yourself’, you need recommendations e.g. on your LinkedIn profile

2. Use the power of perceived credibility

If you are a member of any trade or professional associations, use their logos on all your marketing. For example, we are more likely to choose a builder who is a member of the Federation of Master Builders than one who is not. People don’t often check whether the criteria for membership is stringent or not.

3. Use the power of prizes

If you’ve ever won any relevant awards, crow about them. Winning – or even being nominated – makes people think you must be good (they rarely dig deeper to find out how rigorous the conditions of entry may be).

4th on BizBookAwards

I took this screenshot when my book was ranked 4th (unfortunately I didn't think to take one when it was 3rd)

And that’s my cue to brag that my Little Fish Guide to Networking was recently nominated for a Small Business Trends 2012 Business Book Award. It peaked at 3rd place and ended up 11th in the marketing category, with a staggering 460 votes. Although I just missed out on receiving an award, I thank everyone who voted for their support.

What’s more, I’ve just been upgraded to Diamond membership level on Ezine Articles. This is a status that cannot be bought and can only be earned by sending in high quality articles. Only a small fraction of their thousands of authors ever obtain this level.

Hopefully, this kind of external endorsement helps to convince you that I know what I’m doing (and therefore that it’s worth paying me to do stuff for you or recommending me to people you know).

What can you tell potential clients about your own work?


Jane Hatton · February 28, 2012 at 9:53 am

Good advice Jackie. A question ‘tho. I was a finalist in the Stelios Disabled Entrepreneurs Award in 2008, which actually was quite prestigioius, and up against tough competition. I didn’t win it, but was in the top five, and invited to a big awards dinner at the Natural History Museum and given a prize of £1,000 (the first prize would have been £50,000, so not an award to be sniffed at!). But it’s now 2012 – is it still relevant to mention this award in marketing material now?

    jackiebarrie · February 28, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Belated congratulations! I would say yes, it’s still relevant to mention it for maybe another year or so. After that, it might be worth rethinking.

James Coakes · February 28, 2012 at 12:26 pm

I agree with having plenty of testimonials. Chances of sales increase significantly if you can make clients feel relaxed about justifying why you were chosen, particularly in the corporate market. Having testimonials from the same company makes the sale almost guaranteed.

    jackiebarrie · February 28, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    You’re right – if a testimonial is from ‘someone like us’ we are more likely to believe it.

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