In France we have this saying: “Banks are only lending to rich people”. That’s terribly true, and it also applies to any type of business. Think of the age-old street-side scam: There is a stand selling something in the street, perhaps an “expensive” perfume at a cheap price. They plant the first few excited and generous buyers who throw themselves at the bargain. This gives the item traction – an attractiveness to other people.
It plays on a very simple psychology: someone’s enthusiasm and personal investment validates things to us. The same is true for a legit business, in many cases it will need to be validated by other people’s willingness to invest into it.
Creating something doesn’t mean it exists
For any start-up, if you don’t show your positive results such as a partnership, investors, first reviews on the AppStore, the first few euros earned by your solution, you don’t exist yet. Nobody will think about you twice. You are no different from all the other apps in theApp Store with 0 ratings, no different from the other WordPress-based company.
Creating something doesn’t mean it exists yet. A bike is a collection of metal until somebody rides it. Then, it becomes a bike. An idea is just words until it’s in somebody’s head. Then, it becomes an idea. Your app is just a list of code until somebody uses it. Then, it becomes an app.
Get the ball rolling
Some of the greatest inventions in historywere quite clearly revolutionary from the start but didn’t catch on immediately. Lightbulbs, bikes, cars, personal computers and talking in movies were all seen as fads and unnecessary.
Slowly, they were accepted by smallgroups of enthusiasts, consequently spread to wider audience until they became fully normalised to the degree where we can’t imagine life without them. The hardest part is to get the ball to start rolling. Right from the start, you should be seeking to validate your product or service. Think of eBay – when you purchase something, do you purchase the cheaper item from the person with 0 feedback, or the slightly more expensive from the guy with 1000 feedbacks? An interesting thing to note here, is that it doesn’t matter what the number is.100, 1000, 10000, it makes no difference at some point.
Most companies experience that the biggest struggle is getting the first client. The biggest difference happens between 0 and 1. Keep in mind that in most cases, your clients will only need one piece of evidence that you have done something before and can do it well. From the beginning, seek out the validation more than the profits. It is better to serve the first customer at a lower price (but NEVER for free), receive a great testimonial, and get several normal paying clients, than to wait for months on end for the first person to trust you at the market rate.
Fake it until you make it
Don’t actually fake it. Use fully the potential of what you have currently, and work with what you have got. Someone reaching out to partner with you is traction and a positive result that you can display and talk about. Organic growth is important to monitor as it tells you how healthy and interesting your product is. Paid outreach can secure traffic and some attention, but you need to use the organic growth to build a base to convert this traffic.
People who organically come to your company or use your product are people who are really interested in it. You may choose to cater to those people by contacting them for testimonials, reviews, and other means of gaining additional traction, and offer something exciting in return. If you happen to win a small, insignificant award, and this is the biggest thing you’ve won, this is what you have to work with. You don’t have to show off about it, just prove that it’s working. If you don’t show that other people are buying your idea, you are totally missing the social proof component of yourpresentation.
Measurable social proof
Record and transmit all social proofs inthe original and authentic form. It is much more effective to see John say that my product is awesome, than for me to tell you that John has said that my product is awesome. “Here are our clients” and “Here’s what they have to say”are good sections for your pitch. It detracts from what they might think about you and your product so far. If I’m thinking of buying a Mercedes, I want to talk to some Mercedes owners first, not the dealer.
You can use testimonials, logos of your clients, and real results that you have achieved. On this point, if possible, always consult with the people providing the social proof. Firstly, because you want to avoid a situation in which the person feels it is not 100% representative of their feelings, or a situation in which you are using their logotype as if it was your own.
Secondly, talk to people! If people are truly happy with what you are doing for them, and of course they will be, because you are awesome, they will be more than glad to help. Many times when you ask for a testimonial, your client might ask “What do you want it to say?”. Spend sometime building the relationship and you will be able to build solid social proof that will serve you for years.
Be 10% bigger than life
Think of your social proofs as Instagram. People’s lives are not actually like they show it on Instagram. Their gallery is a collection of snapshots of their best moments, when they looked the best, when they felt the best, when they were in the most interesting place with interesting people. Everything is a little bit better, bigger, and firmer on Instagram. Your social proofs allow you to paint a similar picture.
You can appear a little better, bigger, and smarter through your social proofs. Just a little bit, don’t overdo. Just make sure you do not leave any opportunities unused, and the ones that you are given, you use a 110%.
Showing positive results makes you accountable. If you show that you can do something and don’t hold up your end of the bargain, you will be held accountable, and end up looking like a fool. Being 10% bigger than life is a good guideline.