23 Types of Proof to Use in Your Marketing (Reviews is Not The Only Way)

We're in an era where consumers see an average of 4,000-10,000 ads per day.

This is because it's so easy to advertise nowadays, especially online advertising. You can easily hire a social media marketing agency to kickstart your social media advertising, or sign up for a free Google ads account and get your ads live in a few minutes (if you know how to run Google ads that is, otherwise, feel free to contact us here).

Although it's easy to run an advertising campaign nowadays, it's not easy to run effective advertising campaigns, where you get enquiries and sales. One of the keys to create an effective advertising campaign is to build brand trust.

People buy from companies they trust and like.

Whatever claims you make in your advertising campaigns (or even on your website/social media pages), you need to back it up with proof.

If you claim that your acne treatment works, what's the proof?

If you claim that your enrichment class can help to increase a child's academic grades, what's your proof?

Without proof, consumers won't believe in you. They'll see your advertising messages as claims, as hype, and not proof that your product/service can meet their needs or solve their problems.

Claims and hype are equivalent to BS.

If consumers don't believe in your advertising message, they won't buy from you. It's as simple as that.

So at Heroes of Digital, we adopt an advertising philosophy called: Proof-based advertising. Whatever ads that we do, we include lots of different types of proof, so that consumers believe in the product/service we're advertising.

What are the types of proof you can use in your marketing?

  1. Testimonials
  2. Celebrity endorsements
  3. Case studies
  4. Before/after photos
  5. Achievements/awards
  6. Demonstration
  7. Scientific studies
  8. Reason "why"
  9. Human face/story
  10. Specifics
  11. Explain "how"
  12. Guarantee
  13. Warranty
  14. Specialize
  15. Industry symbols
  16. Locations
  17. Portfolio
  18. Social proof
  19. Clients' logos
  20. Media features
  21. Being at glamour events
  22. Public talks
  23. Titles

1. Testimonials

5 star testimonial review

This is the most common form of proof: testimonials from customers.  Testimonials can come in various formats: text, photo, video. Video and photo formats are usually more credible and authentic. If you have a text testimonial, try to include your customer's name, picture and company (if you're running a B2B business) name.

You should also have some testimonials on the various online platforms, such as Google and Facebook reviews.

Not all testimonials are equal. Sometimes, happy customers leave a one-line testimonial for you, but that's not convincing. A good testimonial should have some of these elements:

  • The condition they were in before they engaged you, and they condition they're in after they engaged you.
  • Why were they happy and satisfied
  • What did they like about your service or product

2. Celebrity Endorsements

A celebrity endorsing your product/service can help to build brand trust. Influencer marketing is similar to celebrity endorsements. The more famous the celebrity, the more powerful this tactic usually will be.

3. Case Studies

Case studies can be applied in many different industries, both b2c and b2b.

For example, if you're advertising a slimming treatment, a case study would consist of a customer who had slimmed down after going through your treatment, with details on the kind of treatments this customer went through, the customer's before/after weight and body picture details etc.

For b2b, if you've talked to any digital marketing agencies before, you'll probably have read some case studies presented by the sales consultant on how the agency helped companies similar to your grow their business.

4. Before/after photos

Some examples of how before/after photos can be applied:

  • Beauty treatments (eg. facial, slimming etc)
  • Interior design/renovation
  • Cleaning services
  • Car waxing/polishing

Just take note that on Facebook and Instagram platforms, you'll not be able to show before/after photos of people's bodies/faces, and in the medical industry in Singapore, you're also not able to show any kind of before/after photos of your treatments.

5. Achievements/awards

There are many kinds of awards in Singapore. Entrepreneur of the Year, Singapore Prestige Brand, Enterprise 50, etc. Some people don't believe in displaying these awards/achievements, because they feel it's a scam.

Although I acknowledge that there are some awards that money can buy, there are also other awards that are earned through merits, and it's such awards that help increase the credibility of the brand.

6. Demonstration

Demonstration is the most powerful form of proof. "Seeing is believing", as they say. If you don't have testimonials, awards, celebrity endorsements, but can demonstrate how your product or service works, it's usually powerful enough to persuade your customers.

Here are some examples:

Demonstration works on service-based businesses as well. For example, we're selling digital marketing services. How do we demonstrate our expertise? One way we do that is by educating you, through content like this, that seeks to establish us as an authority in the field of digital marketing.

7. Scientific studies

If you're selling a product that has the backing of scientific studies, it can be powerful as well. For example, if you're selling a BPA-free water bottle, you can quote scientified studies about how BPA is harmful.

If you're selling an interesting product like Coffee Joulies, you can quote from science what the perfect temperature of coffee should be.

8. Reason "why"

Give people a reason why they should believe in you.

Why should consumers believe that this treatment works?

Why should consumers believe that this product works?

In his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini emphasized that when you give people a reason why, even if that reason is lame, they'll usually believe you. He gave an example of an experiment he conducted.

Scenario A: The experimenter approached the first person in a queue who's looking to print some documents from a printing machine. He asked the person if he's able to cut queue. He got rejected.

Scenario B: In the same scenario, the experimenter approach the first person to ask if he can cut queue, because he's in a rush. His request was accepted.

9. Human face/story

When you put a human face to your brand, or tell a story of how your company was founded, it helps to build authenticity, which builds trust.

This is one of the ways to humanize your brand, and make your brand more relatable to your customers.

10. Specifics

When you can make your advertising message specific, it conveys confidence and builds trust with your customers. Some examples of specificity:

  • Lose 5kg in 30 days through our non-invasive slimming treatment.
  • Get an A in your math exam in 6 months.

11. Explain "how"

If you're selling products, you can explain how your products are made. One way is to film the process of how your products are made in the factory.

If you're selling a service, you can explain how your service is conducted so that your customers can get the results they want. For example, during our sales process, our consultant explains to our prospects about our SEO methodology and how our SEO service can help companies rank their website on Google for certain keywords in their industry.

This concept can even be applied for food. Din Tai Fung's signature dish is their Xiao Long Bao. So they've carefully designed their restaurants such that people can see how their Xiao Long Baos are made in the kitchen.

din tai fung showing how xiaolongbaos are made

12. Guarantee

If you can guarantee your customers they can see a certain result/outcome, it can be a powerful form of proof. Here are some examples:

  • Guarantee an improvement of 2 grades in your Chinese exam.
  • 30-days money back guarantee for this online course.
  • Lowest price guaranteed.

13. Warranty

Warranty is quite a common form of proof for products like electronics, and home products like sofa, window blinds and etc. If you can give a longer warranty for your products, it can be more convincing.

14. Specialize

When you specialize, you tell people that you're an expert at something, compared to a jack of all trades.

15. Industry symbols

An industry symbol is a symbol in your industry that's recognised and shows the public that you're a credible brand in this industry.

Some examples of industry symbols:

  • Michelin star - for restaurants.
  • Edutrust certificate - for schools in Singapore.
  • BCA certification - for companies in the construction and renovation industry in Singapore.

16. Locations

If your office/outlet is in town, it conveys more credibility than if your office/outlet is in a suburban area.

17. Portfolio

In certain industries, portfolio can convey expertise. Industries like interior design, digital marketing, creative services and etc.

18. Social proof

Social proof is also mentioned in Robert Cialdini's book as one of the key principles of persuasion. When we feel uncertain, we all tend to look to others for answers as to how we should behave, what we should think and what we should do. This psychological concept is known as social proof.

Some examples of social proof:

  • User-generated content
  • Number of Instagram page followers
  • Number of customers you've worked with
  • Number of engagements on your social media posts
  • What other experts (eg media, influencers) say about you

If you're in b2b, this should be more relevant. Displaying the logos of your prominent clients on your website and portfolio can send trust and credibility signals.

20. Media features

media features marketing

Do you have earned media? Or have you bought an editorial ad? Show these media features on your website, by displaying the logos of these medias under a headline such as: As seen on.

21. Being at glamour events

Ever seen how some companies show photos of their founders shaking hands with the who's who? Ministers, influencers etc. You can usually get the photo op in major conferences, industry trade shows etc.

22. Public talks

If you have conducted talks publicly, you can show photos/videos of those talks on your website or social media. When you give talks publicly, it positions you as the expert in your industry.

Here are a few examples of public talks:

  • Conferences
  • Webinar
  • Podcast

23. Titles

Titles like Doctor, Principal Engineer, Lawyer, Datuk, convey authority, which is a form of proof.

Xavier Tan
Xavier is the Co-Founder of Heroes of Digital. He started social media marketing and SEM long before it became popular in Singapore. His passion is in helping businesses grow through effective lead generation. He has overseen campaigns for Amara Hotel, NTU, Marina Bay, L'Oreal, and 100+ SMEs.

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