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Going Down Into The Dank Underbelly Of Social Proof

by Pete Godfrey · 5 comments

Going Down Into The Dank Underbelly Of Social Proof

One aspect of the Internet I really like is real-time Social Proof. You say something on your blog, on Facebook and such, your customers instantly back you up giving your comments real-time credibility. If someone attacks you, flames you, your customers take it personally and come to your defence. (NOTE: Of course, this assumes you have a strong, trust-filled relationship with your customers.)

At a recent speaking gig I touched on the “Full Parking Lot” Principle and today I’m gonna expand on it further. You’ll see what it is, but more importantly, how you can use it in your business to explode sales and create an overwhelming desire for your products.

But first up, let me explain Social Proof (SP) as I see it. When it comes to selling your products, SP simply means others are using your products with great success. It’s your job to show this. You accomplish this in two main ways.

1) Overtly: Testimonials, endorsements from leading authority, research reports and so on, all add credibility to your offer and show your prospects that others are using your product.

2) Covertly: This is the specific use of language to illicit a response. For copywriters, this is where it gets exciting; this is where we agonise over every word. (You’ll get examples of this shortly.)

The “Full Parking Lot” Principle originally applied to restaurants. If you were opening a new restaurant, you would hire a couple of cars and fill the parking lot to show people driving past that others were at your restaurant. No one wants to walk into, let alone dine at, an empty restaurant.

None of us are immune either. Case in point: I was out in Sydney one night with friend Mal Emery and we felt like Indian. We walked past the first place because it was empty, just a few diners, and chose the place a little ways along because it was jammed packed; even though we had to wait for a table.


Social Proof.

When we see an empty restaurant we wonder why the damn thing is empty. When we see a full restaurant filled with happy people enjoying themselves, this gives us validation for choosing this place to eat; that we’ve made the right decision.

MONEY TIP: The majority of people make bad decisions. Help them make the right decision (buy your product) by showing others enjoying the benefits of your product.

Can you see this? Good! Because it just keeps getting better.

Here’s an example taken from the book: “Yes” by Robert B. Cialdini. An infomercial changed its Call to Action (CTA) and got a huge bump in response simply by changing a few key words. Instead of saying the old: “Operators are waiting, please call now,” they changed it to “If operators are busy, please call back.” At first blush, you may think this is counter-productive. When you look closer you’ll realise how brilliant it really is.

SIDE NOTE: Last month I gave you great tips on getting more referrals. To recap, here’s one tip I gave you: In your newsletter, you can list all of the new customers you received that month. After the name, have the name of who referred them. This is a powerful way to get even more referrals. Sure, this is acknowledgement which is a very powerful tool to use, however it also demonstrates social proof that others are referring; even implying the majority of customers DO refer.

Look, people love to see others are using your products or services… it validates their purchase and shows them others are benefiting from you. So they want to get in, to be a part of the action. No one wants to go to the empty restaurant; no one seeks the wise man at the bottom of the mountain, and no one will respond to your offer unless you prove others are doing so as well.

Here’s another quote taken from the book: “Yes” by Robert B. Cialdini.

“Although there’s little doubt that other people’s behaviour is a powerful source of social influence, when we ask people in our own studies whether other people’s behaviour influences their own, they are absolutely insistent that it does not. But social psychologists know better.”

Here’s the BIG lesson from that: People are often wrong about what motivates them to engage in certain behaviour. As a marketer, as a master persuader, you must be under no illusions; you must see the world for how it is, not through the lens of rose-coloured glasses.

Case in point: Busy city, one guy on footpath looks up in the air at top of building. People rush past barely noticing him. But when four people look up into the air, others stop and do the same.

We are creatures of habit and like it or not we look to others to validate our buying decisions. I suggest you spend some time absorbing the info in this article and figure out ways on how to apply in your business. It could be as simple as changing your CTA to: “If operators are busy, please call back.”

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About The Author

Copywriter, Sales Strategist - Pete GodfreyPete Godfrey, The Wizard of Words, from rebel without a clue to one of the most in demand and highest paid Copywriters and Sales Strategists in Australasia… all with the power of his emotionally charged words that sell… Discover the “Secret Weapon” to increasing your Sales and Profits by downloading the valuable report "The Ultimate Copywriting and Marketing Secret" While you're at it, follow Pete on Facebook

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Gulliver November 24, 2010 at 10:40 am

Dude awesome advice.


Copywriter Kevin Francis November 24, 2010 at 10:56 am


That’s a great tip about the “if operators are busy…” line. Thanks for republishing that…I was looking for the exact wording only the other day.

And great post about an increasingly important aspect of marketing today. We’re in a “new economy” for many reasons and power has shifted to the customer. Social proof is increasingly important and having a strategy to incorporate that is essential. Currently working on a couple of projects for clients to do just that which should increase their business dramatically.

Kevin Francis


Rich Muir November 24, 2010 at 11:03 am

Man I gotta learn some patience is that why the food sucks at those restaurants, next time!

Great post Pete.


John Anderson November 24, 2010 at 12:02 pm

“If Operators are busy please call back’
I’ve read Cialdini’s book but I somehow missed that nugget. Gold, that’s one for my mental vault. Talk soon, Pete.
P.S Your a master of social proof – I love the way you incorporate it overtly and covertly into your sales letters.


Mr."Mate-eyes" November 24, 2010 at 1:18 pm

“Proofs in the pudding Pete”

The “Social Aussie Damper”, COOKED in a ‘modern day Microwave’, with a hint of Native bush tucker spices:

A recipe for results:

Says it all for one to create a sense of own unique (self – “Authority” ) , surround that with
a half decent “ETHICAL” product which really ‘HELPS’ people’s needs, wants, & pays hommage to their. F.E.A.R”s,. -( false- expectations- appearing- real ) , and yeah mate, if its “BACKED UP” by some ‘GOOD’ support & testimonials , I now feel how a “tweek’ here & there,with the term,”sorry if operaters are busy , call back later…

Nice subtle term ,which Psychologically draws them into “the -(CTA)”….Clever mate, it give’s one NO WHERE to go !.

Thank’s for your kind wisdom Pete.
All the best .
Kind regards.



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