Take a minute and think a bit about your purchasing decisions. How do you decide where to grab a bite to eat? What did you do to find your primary care physician? If you’re like the majority of Americans, you read online reviews, asked for recommendations from friends, or checked out their social media channels.
Thought leadership combines big ideas, a clear perspective, and distinctive insights about a particular industry or topic to offer authentic value to an audience outside of a sales pitch. That’s the key: True thought leaders offer helpful, unique information without being self-promotional.
Social proof, coined in 1984 by author Robert Cialdini, is a phenomenon that means people take cues from other people on how to act or be in certain situations. Also known as informational social influence, in marketing, this means people look to reviews, recommendations, or ideas on how other people have used something before purchasing.
And social proof undeniably helps bring in business. Take a look at these stats:
Though there are other categories of social proof, the following five have the biggest impact on insurance agencies getting started.
Customer reviews make your agency seem more trustworthy and help customers assess the value of your services. Free tools like Google My Business and Yelp make reviewing fairly simple. Of note: You can’t control who leaves a review for your business.
But don’t fret, there’s something to be said for falling short of a perfect 5/5 stars. Harvard Business Review shares this is because non-perfect reviews are perceived to be more thoughtful — and in turn more accurate — than reviews that are all or nothing. So lower reviews can actually help build trust.
Think of testimonials as quick shout-outs you can attribute to a person that you’ve helped curate. Where reviews can be left by anyone, testimonials are requested by you.
These brief recommendations come from happy customers and often include the customer’s photo for maximum impact. Perfect to sprinkle on your website and throughout social media, these short-and-sweet quotes can pack a huge punch.
Consider stacking your deck with three-ingredient testimonials:
More in-depth, case studies tell a story about how working with you helped solve a customer challenge or unlock something new.
Some of the best forms of insurance social proof are customer case studies that highlight the experiences of your most satisfied customers. The key to a powerful case study: be specific. Choose one problem or situation to overcome, and explain how partnering with you did that. You don’t want to boil the ocean here; if a customer has several share-worthy insights, break them up into individual case studies. That way, you can pick and choose the problems and solutions that pertain to a specific prospect. Check out these powerful case-study examples to spark some ideas.
Much like professional references for a new job, customer references connect with potential clients on your behalf. They can answer customer-specific questions, dig a little bit into why they ended up choosing you, and even offer peer-to-peer advice. The key: Make sure these customers want to act as references! Sending prospects to them cold could actually work against you.
Even if certain licensures are part of your profession, these are still important to highlight. If you have a solid Better Business Bureau rating, add it to your website. Are you a member of local commerce organizations or other neighborhood associations? Add those, too! Credentials like these show you’re part of the community and know your stuff.
Tap into the fear of missing out (FOMO) phenomenon: Consider adding the logos of your clients’ businesses to your website homepage. You can also estimate the number of customers your agency has helped over the years and add this to your website, too. When lots of people already trust you and your services, others will want to follow suit.
Depending on your business size and reach, local, regional, and national awards may be on the table. Certain badges can be awarded through online tools, but other awards will require an application and potentially a submission fee.
More than likely, you already have the data or people you need, especially if your agency has been in business for some time. To begin, sift through your social media accounts and business pages, and note positive feedback to include on your website. If you have a Google My Business or Yelp page, grab thoughtful positive reviews.
Create a list of satisfied customers willing to provide a testimonial, serve as a reference, or be featured in a case study.
Then you can begin your outreach. Keep it casual and include the time commitment involved. Testimonials or reviews could be 10 minutes max, while case studies would require perhaps an hour or more of their time to fill out a questionnaire or sit for an interview.
Sites like Canva can help you create some eye-catching designs for your reviews and testimonials. Even with a free account, there are plenty of templates you can access. Bonus: These images become the perfect thing to promote on social media, too!
For longer-form case studies, you may want to create a PDF you can share via email or print off as a leave-behind. Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and Canva have pre-made templates you can tap into for these, too. And if you can, install Grammarly to help with spelling, sentence structure, and overall composition.
When it comes to references, keep a readily accessible document featuring a running list of customers that have agreed to be references for you. Include company name, company size, services used, primary contact, secondary contact, and contact information. With these in your back pocket, you can match prospective customers with references that mirror their needs.
Though award applications do take time to craft and submit, they are helpful to both publicize your business and offer third-party credibility. Look to your local professional chapter for potential awards and even your local media “best of” annual lists. And when you bring home the hardware, make sure you put a digital badge on your website and thank your customers via social media.
The biggest way you can continue to grease the wheels for social proof? Show your appreciation to your customers, mentions on social media, and reviewers. Remember, a little bit of gratitude goes a long way.