Here’s my take on the recently updated FTC guidelines on testimonials and “typical results”.
The problem with the old rules was everyone could count their hits and ignore their misses, which led to an inaccurate picture.
All the “compliance mechanisms” Cialdini cataloged, by the way (not just social proof), are designed to get people to take shortcuts in their thinking and impulsively purchase in the absence of a rigorous and rational evaluation. But testimonials are one of the most effective.
Think of the story of the bank in Singapore which had to close down when the bus which normally ran hourly at the stop right in front of its doors was late. A long line ensued, and people panicked, jumping to the conclusion that there was a “run” on the bank.
Social Proof gets people to “jump”.
But here’s a question worth asking.
Do we really NEED people to jump?
What’s wrong with a slow, steady relationship, developing trust over time? What’s wrong with continually giving and nurturing your list until they trust you so much you could sell them without a single testimonial?
Don’t get me wrong. It would be stupid to stop using testimonials… my advice there is to just learn how to comply, do it, and keep on trucking.
That’s not the point.
The point is, now that the FTC isn’t gonna let people just “count the hits and ignore the misses” anymore, the marketers who are going to shine are the ones with the best relationship building skills. You can’t build the same instantaneous “trust” you used to be able to with the old-style testimonial rules.
But you CAN build stronger, longer lasting, and higher paying trust by genuinely understanding and caring for your prospect.
So all those dummies who couldn’t be bothered with such things just got a big knock down.
Good … more room for us.