This blog about Third Party Endorsement was originally one of a series of monthly guest blogs written by our director, Ellen Gunning, for Microsoft’s Irish SME platform. It has been updated and refreshed by Connor Coleman (Feb. 2020).
Every business owner that I know is passionate about what they do – including me! We all work long hours, do our very best to produce the best product at the best price. We really believe that the customer is always right – even when we know they are wrong! We try our hardest to make sure that our employees are happy and satisfied. We believe in quality. We stand tall in everything that we do.
So, naturally, if you ask a business owner about their business, they will tell you about it in glowing terms. But the public is very cynical. Their attitude is a bit along the lines of ‘Yeah. Right. Prove it!’
It doesn’t matter what you say about yourself, what matters is what others say about you.
Third party endorsement is vital for every business. In social media terms people refer to it as ‘building champions’ or creating ‘raving fans’.
So how do we do that?
Look at the television ads for toothpaste. You see people in dental surgeries, in white coats, with captions telling you who they are. They are speaking to camera and telling viewers that they recommend this product to their customers. Why? Because research shows that we are more likely to believe a dentist.
Take the L’Oréal shampoo ads – they’re wonderful. L’Oréal got well known, highly regarded, good-looking personalities to promote the product. They created an association with celebrity, beauty and shampoo. This kind of endorsement is very effective.
So, how do you adapt this idea using PR techniques? Here are three good ways:
1. Use well known personalities.
People look up to others, respect their judgement, want to be like them. You want part of that for your brand and business too. Endorsers are not the people that YOU admire – they are the people that your audience admires.
Newbridge Silverware is a superb example of a company developing what they call ‘brand ambassadors’. They use well-known names and faces to promote and endorse their products – and are phenomenally successful at it.
Charities do it all the time. They are always on the lookout for ‘famous’ people who will endorse them and the good work that they do.
So – start looking. Use local endorsers like the captain of the county hurling team, or someone who is an actor in a TV soap. A band member always brings a fan base, a reality television star will have huge facial recognition and a YouTube star is very important if you are trying to reach a young audience.
2. Upload great Testimonials
The TripAdvisor sites are living proof of the power of recommendations. All the hotels on the site have their own websites that tell you about their facilities, staff, welcome and room rates. But people prefer to seek feedback from people who are ‘free agents’. A good review on a TripAdvisor site will encourage people to use your hotel.
Businesses have testimonials on their websites so that visitors can get the opinions of real people. Potential customers want to see, hear and read what others say about you. That means it’s important that you use a photo of the person if possible, with their name and location. And of course, if you can get them to shoot a video testimonial for you that is the ultimate endorsement! People can see and hear and decide for themselves much more quickly.
And remember – people check your testimonials. Some years ago, I came across a company that looked great – but I knew nothing about them. One of their testimonials was from a man with an unusual surname. I knew a man of the same name, so I rang him. He confirmed that it was indeed him but said that the ‘kids’ father was a friend of his’ so he wrote the testimonial for him. He had no idea what the company did and had never met the man’s son. Lost opportunity for a business that didn’t even know I was considering them!
3. Get buy-in from Bloggers
We sponsored the Blogger Awards in 2016 and the number of followers these bloggers had is awesome. They are social media influencers with a very wide reach and their audience knows them well.
We had a blogger on our team of trainers. She reached, on average, 2.5 million people per month, but she has reached 4 million in a single month. That’s a lot of influence.
Blog readers want to gain skills (learn how to do something) or get an insight (industry thought leaders) or feel the pulse of the nation (political blogs)- and they trust these bloggers.
I spoke with a blogger who told me that she never writes something negative about a product – she just doesn’t endorse it. So, she might say something like ‘I tried these two named products and I absolutely adored this one…” (and never mention the first product again). Her readers know exactly what is going on, and her endorsement – or lack of it – carries weight.
Review your customers and potential customer base. Check out who they are most likely to be influenced by and then start searching. Review your email address book, the contacts in your phone book and ask your colleagues and co-workers. In Ireland, especially, you are never more than three clicks away from meeting the person you are looking for. Get someone to e-introduce you and start the conversation. That endorsement might be the clincher — and you might never even know it!
First published in its original format in 2017
Be sure to check out the previous blogs in this series!