When you first start your own business, you open up worlds you previously didn’t even know existed — do you know, for example, what factoring is and whether you will need it?
GoodReviews – Saul Edwards
When you first start your own business, you open up worlds you previously didn’t even know existed — do you know, for example, what factoring is and whether you will need it? What do you have to consider when you start a business, which pitfalls can you avoid and which topics need emphasis?
In this series, you read about various themes that are important to new entrepreneurs. Not taken from ‘These are the 9 Things you Absolutely have to do’-articles, but from people. Our people. Five entrepreneurs from StartDock talk about their company and their industry so that you can learn from them. In this part, Saul talks about social proof as marketing and the way his company GoodReviews solves a problem for starting entrepreneurs.
Why do you start a company? This is a question you can answer in two different ways; personal and business-wise. For what reason are you starting a business? And for what reason is it a valid business? Let’s start with the latter question.
Saul: ‘The first thing a starting business needs to do, is identify a problem and then create a solution for that problem. Over my career, I’ve worked with hundreds of companies, ranging from small businesses to big enterprises, from a local plumber to global franchise businesses that runs in multiple countries. I helped all these companies with digital marketing and one question kept coming back to me. That question was the foundation of my company.’
‘On the enterprise level, there are many marketing solutions in terms of reviews, such as review platforms that help companies gather and leverage reviews. In contrast, for small to medium size businesses these options are lacking. The more conversations I had with these clients, the more I heard the need for a software solution. When this happened, I always had to point them towards software that costs $500 to $3000 per month. And that is a shitload of money for 99% of businesses out there. The problem that GoodReviews is trying to solve is creating a review platform for small to medium size businesses so they can collect and leverage reviews.’
When a company says their service, tool or product is the best there is, you generally become a bit skeptical. They have a lot to gain when you believe that they are the best, so they say they are best to make you believe it. This is not the most elegant of ways. When other people – who have no benefit to it at all – say that product it the best, you will be more likely to believe it. This type of social review is precious for companies.
Saul: ‘Nine out of 10 purchasing decisions are made because, or influenced by reviews. Be it word-of-mouth or online reviews. Offline reviews happen in a whole manner of different ways. A long queue for a coffee shop or a fully booked restaurant can be a review because it makes people think: “that place must be good”. If you look close enough, a whole lot of things can be a review.’
‘In this scenario, the queue is social proof. The queue builds credibility and trust for a brand. When we moved into the digital world of things, society or consumerism has had to come up with ways to create trust and credibility for an online medium. Those indicators of social proof come from testimonials on a webpage, the clients or the number of clients we have. If you see a website nowadays, it usually starts with a ‘Call to Action’-button, then a bit about the product, followed by various forms of social proof.’
There are different ways you can implement social proof as a starting entrepreneur. With a bit of common sense, you can go a long way. Written testimonials, video testimonials, a mention in a credible media or a news publication, and your number of clients are all different examples you can use as social proof.
Saul: ‘People actively leave reviews, because people like helping people. You can see this trend on Yelp or TripAdvisor for example. On the other hand, if you ask for a review, by sending an easy to use email format, 60 to 70 per cent of the people will respond, which is huge.’
Saul: ‘Currently we are in near completion of a Review tool that is going to do the job. The next step at the end of June is doing a beta test with 15 companies to debug the software and to see the statistics. Which we can later use as social proof. The 15 companies signed up for free for 2 months and after that, they will pay our normal fee. The pay depends on the number of unique visitors per month and ranges from €25 to €75 per month. What I hope to achieve is that I can say something in the line of: “with our app, you will get 5 more conversions per week, plus your website conversion rate will go up by 7%.’
This is a screenshot of a beauty salon. In the left bottom, you see the GoodReviews widget.
If you click on it, more reviews from other people will pop up.
You will attract people, not because you sell what you sell, but because why you sell it. This comes directly from Start With Why from Simon Sinek. Saul: ‘The best marketing advice I can give you is: read Start With Why. I noticed that companies that clearly defined who they are and why they do what they do, had more success in the long run.’
‘If you lie to someone, they won’t trust you. You are there to solve a problem. If your way of solving that problem is authentic, you will already start building trust. Building trust comes down to the fundamental definition of why you exist in the world of business.’ Why you exist in the world of business is the answer to the question about why you started your business on a personal level. If you can clearly define why you do what you do, you will start your business as an authentic endeavor. You are not authentic just for the sake of being authentic, it has a huge business advantage. Saul: ‘Building credibility and trust for your brand from a high-level marketing perspective can be done through a mission and vision statement to the foundations as to why you exist as a company.’
‘To put this in context, a review is a component of social proof, which in turn is a component of the authenticity you show as a company.’
You will attract people, not because you sell what you sell, but because why you sell it. Saul: ‘Look at Apple with their Think Different campaign or Nike with Just Do It. Businesses attract people who have similar mindsets to them. Those campaigns made a huge impact and it all comes down to social proof.’
‘If you want to have sustained longevity it’s about formulating your business to always have credibility in whatever you do and then by giving indicators that show social proof is a helper towards that.’
A business is more than just good marketing, you need a product or a service, your finances have to be in check, you need to know how you do sales and more. Or as Saul says it: ‘Marketing is just one piece of the puzzle, you need all the pieces to see the full picture.’