By now, you’re probably familiar with the fact that social proof is one of the most effective marketing strategies out there, regardless of the type of business you run. However, most companies using social proof for marketing are in the tech space. Did you know that as a virtual assistant you can also benefit from social proof?
Here is how social proof works for the VA business and how you can start using it today to win more clients that pay even better than your current ones.
First off – what is social proof?
Social proof is one of the oldest marketing concepts that says that customers are more likely to buy from someone if another customer (similar to them) said something nice about the person selling. In other words, if you worked for a CEO as a virtual assistant and they gave you an excellent review, another CEO will read that review and they are more likely to hire you over someone else who has no reviews at all.
Social proof works really well when selling products, but it’s also very effective when selling services. As a virtual assistant, you can use it to show potential clients the value and expertise you provide to your existing ones. However, you can’t just spam them asking for reviews – there are some best practices to keep in mind.
Why social proof is important for virtual assistants
If you go and buy a mouse for your computer, for example, you’ll probably go on Amazon and look up reviews before making a purchase. If the mouse doesn’t work for you for some reason, you can always return it and get the same or different one from the seller. However, things are a little bit different with virtual assistants, and it’s not just because you’re selling services.
Virtual assistants do a wide array of jobs, from sending emails to editing confidential documents. Potential clients need to know that you excel at a specific type of task for a specific type of client. Moreover, virtual assistants work closely with people who run businesses and those types of clients want to know that a VA is someone trustworthy who takes their job seriously.
A testimonial helps you solve both of these problems with ease.
What kind of social proof can I use as a virtual assistant?
As a service provider, there are two major forms of social proof which you can use – testimonials and case studies. Both require you to ask your client about their experience with you and they are different in nature and the effects they achieve.
Case studies are stories that show the before and after. For example, you worked with the CEO of a company, and thanks to your services, they were able to save 30% of their time every day and they improved their overall productivity by X%. Case studies are excellent but they require specific, measurable results in order to be effective. A lot of times, your clients don’t have time (or the will) to share these results.
Testimonials are the best form of social proof for virtual assistants. Simply put, a client will share their experience with working with you as a VA, either in writing or a video/audio recording. You can then show this testimonial to other potential clients (on your website, social media, Upwork profile) so you can get them on board.
What should I know about testimonials as social proof?
In theory, asking your client to say a few nice words about you should not be a big deal. After all, if you’ve done great work, they should just agree and give you the testimonial as soon as possible.
Well, not really.
The reason that the client hired you as a VA in the first place is that they are very low on time. Chances are, writing/recording a testimonial is another task that they don’t have time to do. To get the testimonial, you will have to bug them at least several times and in most cases, they won’t know what to write.
This is why it’s handy to use a testimonial and rating platform such as Trust to collect clients reviews. It will send an email on your behalf to your clients and they can leave their written or recorded testimonials within the tool. You can then use it on your website with just a few clicks.
In any case, be prepared in advance with a list of things you want the client to talk about, such as:
- Your expertise in a certain area (e.g. cold emails)
- Your specific skills (e.g. customer support)
- Your character traits
- Your knowledge of a certain industry
The more specific your prompts are, the better the testimonials will be.
When should I ask for social proof?
Say that you have a great client and you know that they are happy with your work. When do you ask them for a testimonial? There are two ways to go about it.
If you work on a retainer project as a contractor a full-time virtual assistant, the best time to ask for a testimonial is after you’ve done great work on a specific task. For example, your customer support skills helped the client convince a major customer to stay with your client. This is the right time to ask for a testimonial as the client will be under the impression and have amazing feedback for you.
If you work as a contractor on a project that lasts for a certain time, the best time to ask for a testimonial is immediately after the project is done. Don’t waste time and be prepared to ask as soon as you stop working for the client. The sooner you ask, the more details they will remember and include.
What format of social proof works best?
With testimonials, it’s all about authenticity. Nowadays, it’s so easy to write a fake testimonial that lots of website visitors lost faith in testimonials altogether. You want to make sure that the person reading knows that the testimonial comes from your client and that you didn’t just write it on your own.
For that purpose, make sure that your written testimonials are copied and pasted in full without omitting anything. Make sure to list the client’s industry, job role (CEO, manager, director, etc.) and their website. That way, anyone can make sure that you actually worked for that client and that they do exist.
To go one step further, you can ask the client to record a video testimonial. No fancy equipment or editing, just a minute or two recorded with a cell phone will turn into an amazing testimonial.
Where should I display social proof as a virtual assistant?
It primarily depends on where you get your best clients. For example, if you do most of your work on Upwork, having testimonials on your profile would be a great idea. If you use LinkedIn to generate leads and get new business, you should frequently post your client’s testimonials on your feed.However, no matter what platform you use to acquire clients, it’s always a great idea to use your website to show social proof. Not only will potential clients expect to see it there, but you will also have more room to show what your clients have to say about you.
How do I get social proof if I haven’t had a client yet?
This is a tricky position to be in but if you’re just starting out as a virtual assistant, it’s bound to happen. If you’ve never had a client, there is no chance to have a testimonial either, so you’re forced to find ways around this problem.
The first way to go about it is to offer your services for free to a client or two in exchange for a testimonial. However, no one should work for free so abstain from using this tactic if you can by any means.
The second and better tactic is to offer a discount for your first X number of customers in exchange for a testimonial after your work is finished. For example, if you usually work for $20 per hour, you can offer a 50% discount for the first three clients in exchange for some testimonials. However, make sure to set some limits. Don’t accept anyone who wants to take your offer – make sure it’s the kind of client whose testimonial you want for the future. If you do great work, chances are that you will get a testimonial and an offer to do more work.
Collecting and displaying social proof can seem like a never-ending chore but the pros greatly outweigh the cons. If you do great work and your clients have nothing but praise for you, it’s high time to use that feedback and turn it into social proof. By using this social proof, you will ensure that you get more clients in the future and that the clients you do get are the kind that you want to work for.