You look at the testimonials on your website or brochure and see testimonials. The client looks at the testimonials and sees a mirror. Mirror, mirror on the wall, is this the right product or service for me?
And the mirror says: Hey, great product, but who's bought it before?
Your website/brochure/presentation is a mirror. People want the text to reflect what's in their brain. They want the tone of the website to sound like, um, the tone they're used to hearing. They want to feel at one with the website but, mostly, they want to know who's bought the stuff before.
And usually they get lumped with nameless, faceless people. Which is fine when you're buying a $15 book off Amazon or a $2 app off iTunes. If you're going to be plonking down 2000 buckeroos, you'll want more details.
We hate the concept of anonymity. We hate the concept of the blind date. If we're going to spend big money (and this may be just $200), then we want to know who else is using the product or the service.
There's a good reason why. Let's say you're about to sign up to a membership site. You're from Connecticut and find the site has 800 members - most of whom are from some crazy place called Auckland, New Zealand, a place you've never heard of.
So waitasec, you're not signing up for the members, are you? You're signing up for the membership site and all the goodies it contains. So why hesitate?
Because it's a mirror. If you don't see some folks from your neck of the woods, you wonder if the site will be applicable to you. Perhaps those Aucklanders won't understand your accent or you won't understand them. So you drop the credit card and back away, don't you?
And this is true for Aucklanders as well. If they see a website that shows all the folks are from Wellington, or Sydney, then they assume (wrongly of course) that this product or service needs to be either examined closely or passed up completely.
And this long-winded psychological prelude has been placed here for a reason. People don't see your marketing material. They see a mirror.
They don't see the testimonials. They want to know who is behind those testimonials. What language they speak; what they do. And, mostly, they want to figure out if those folks have the same "look". What's this "look" nonsense all about?
Let's say you enter a room at a party. Some of us head to the drinks and food but most head towards a person or a group of people.
Have you watched what happens in a room where you're having a workshop? Have you noticed how people who are a lot alike seem to clump together? Well, that's what happens everywhere we go. We look for conformity.
Conformity comes in many ways, but we look for things that are similar. So let's cut to the chase, and find out why pictures and words are so dramatic.
Every picture tells a story, whether we like it or not. The moment we look at someone else's face, we get some kind of information that we've learned to filter out over the years.
This is how we find our friends, the people we fall in love with and, incidentally, this is how we end up buying a lot of products and services too.
We use the information available on the website or in the brochure and come to a conclusion. What are we looking for, is the question. The answer is simple. We're looking to find conformity. And the conformity shows up in the form of:
* Face (does he/she look like someone I trust?)
* Name (does that name sound too alien to me?)
* Place (where do they come from?)
* Profession (do they do a similar job?)
* Tone of voice (do they have similar values?)
This is not stereotyping. It's how we make decisions in everyday life.
And it's important to understand you're not just throwing a bunch of photos and testimonials on a page. You're actually deciding on a strategy. You're working out in advance that you want to work with a certain type, group, nationality or lack of nationality.
Your testimonials aren't just another lot of pictures and words. They're a mirror. Create conformity or diversity with face, name, place, profession and tone of voice. Make darned sure your prospective clients look into that mirror - and see themselves.
Sean D'Souza is chief executive of Psychotactics and an international author and trainer. He is the author of The Brain Audit - Why Customers Buy (And Why They Don't).