Monthly Archives: July 2019

In marketing, social proof is king, queen, and emperor

Much of marketing is social proof. You use products because you see other people that you admire using products. This is especially true in B2B marketing.

Social proof, when it works well, is a feedback loop. Actions create evidence which create relevance and then create consequences.

This is true in products you buy personally and products you buy for your business. It is true for homes, schools, medical procedures, and even political candidates. Social proof is the number one thing that convinces you to choose any product that is out there.

If you are a marketer, you need to acknowledge the power of social proof and use it to your advantage.

Social proof is a very good short-cut for people who are doing due diligence of a product. They want to understand who else is using a product and what they think of it.

In marketing, social proof is king, queen, and emperor.

Social proof looms large in B2B software

Is Stripe the best payment processor for your business? I have no idea. But I do know that many companies I respect use Stripe and like Stripe … so if I need a payment processor I am going to check out Stripe. I’ll likely check out Square too because many companies I respect use them.

I’m going to assume a LOT about Stripe and Square because of the social proof. I am going to assume they are reputable. I am going to assume they are technically proficient. I am going to assume they have good fraud protection. I am going to assume tons of positive things about these services (which might not actually be true) because of the vast social proof surrounding them.

Review sites and social proof

One of the reasons reviews are so important is because of social proof. Here the raw number of review is key for social proof. That charger review on Amazon, the database review on G2 Crowd, or the company culture review on Glassdoor. And marketers spend a lot of time managing these reviews and sometimes gaming these reviews.

Of course, when these reviews are too easily gamed, they are massively discounted.

Celebrity endorsements are so powerful.

This is why celebrity endorsements are so powerful. You might admire Denzel Washington and if he endorses Toyota, that might make you more likely to get a Toyota. Of course, if you know the endorser was paid for the endorsement you might discount the recommendation … but even then the endorsement can be powerful (because you know Denzel Washington has standards and does not just endorse every product).

One of the hottest things right now in marketing is influencer marketing (paying a popular YouTuber to talk-up your product). The more genuine the endorsement is perceived, the more likely you are engage with the product.

I particularly like the endorsements that Malcolm Gladwell makes on his podcast, Revisionist History. He talks so eloquently about his love for ZipRecruiter. I have no idea if ZipRecruiter is a good or bad product, but Malcolm Gladwell’s endorsement (even though I know it was a straight-up paid endorsement transaction) makes me want to check it out.

Picking a school to send your kids to

People that have achieved a decent level of wealth have a massive number of schools to choose from for their kids. San Francisco alone has hundreds of schools (public and private) — and many of them are extremely highly rated. Which one should you choose for your kids?

Most people use social proof. They look to people they admire and see where those people sent their kids … and then they make their choice accordingly.

It would take too long to do deep due diligence on 200 schools. In fact, it takes too long to do deep due diligence on even one school. A much easier short cut is to look to social proof.

This is why recruiting at start-ups is so hard

If you a start-up, by definition very few people have joined your company. That means most candidates will not know anyone that has joined your company (or even interviewed with your company). So getting social proof is rather difficult). Larger companies like Google, Goldman Sachs, and McKinsey don’t have this problem — most top candidates will have known many people that have joined these organizations.

Summation: in marketing, focus first on social proof.

Feedback loop in social proof marketing

This was originally posted on Quora.

How do I make over $200,000 / year?

If you are not already making $200,000 compensation in your job, there are five steps to getting you there.


(1) Do everything you say you are going to do.

(2) Manage your boss and colleagues — don’t make them spend time managing you.

(3) Proactively help the organization.

(4) Be positive (don’t complain). Be a “yes, and” person.

(5) Report to someone making over $200k.

Even if your goal is not money, following these steps (save the fifth one) will help you achieve success in any organization you are in (including teaching in a school, being a soldier in the military, being a firefighter, working at a non-profit, and more).

100% of 10Xers do the first four things. Or maybe it is 98%. And these are things ANYONE can do — you do not need to have some sort of superhuman skill to achieve the first four things. If you do these things well, you will likely be a 10Xer to your organization.

(1) Do everything you say you are going to do.

One of the rarest things to do in the work world (and this is also true in the social world) is simply to do what you say will do. Be dependable. When you say you will do something, you do it. You meet expectations. Almost nobody does this. Just doing this one step puts you in the top 10% of employees.

Of course, that does not mean that you will never miss deadlines. That does not mean that you will never fail. But when you do miss a deadline, it means that you are on top of it and let the other stakeholders know ahead of time (well before the deadline). “I told you the report would be done on Tuesday. I underestimated the research involved. It will instead be done by Thursday (two days later). Let me know if this is not ok or you want to dive in more.”

(2) Manage your boss and colleagues — don’t make them spend time managing you.

If your boss or your colleagues are managing you, that is a bad sign. You need to manage them. You need to be asking them for help in achieving your goal. “Sue, please send this pre-written email to Customer Y to help my BD deal get unblocked.”

You also need to be telling your boss the things you should do. That means you should be setting the one-on-one agenda with your boss and also coming up with the ideas of things you can do to help the organization. Don’t put the burden on your boss to come up with things for you to do. You should instead have weekly, monthly, quarterly, (and sometimes yearly) project plan that you can go over with your boss and get her advice, input, and mentorship on it.

In fact, don’t think of your boss as a boss that gives you direction. Think of her as a mentor who can help guide you.

(3) Proactively help the organization.

The best employees take action. They are extremely action-oriented. If you see a problem, fix it. If you see an opportunity, go grab it. If it involves getting resources, understand the organization’s trade-offs. Do not wait to be assigned something. Do not wait to get the core priority from the big boss. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.

Determine what needs to be done to help the organization and set things in motion to achieve the goals. And this need not be the defining thing that propels an organization forward. It can be a really small thing (like ordering extra toilet paper for the bathrooms). Look to solve problems.

(4) Be positive (don’t complain). Be a “yes, and” person.

Most smart people are “no, but” people. They quickly identify problems. They are really good at finding flaws in other people’s arguments. They see the bugs in the code. They see all the inherent inconsistencies in the marketing plan. They see the product limitations.

The things the “no, but” people identify are really important. There are important flaws in every organization. But too many Cassandras are not helpful in organizations. You need to take what you have and make it better.

Better to be a “yes, and” person. Instead of shooting down other people’s ideas, build on the ideas. Give them positive feedback. Take what you like about an idea and build on it. If someone has an idea for the organization, it means they are putting themselves out there. Especially if the person is proactive (see #3 above). No need to stomp on that idea. No need to quash enthusiasm.

Instead, be “yes, and.” (note: “yes, and” comes from improv comedy where the rule is to always agree, and add something to the discussion). Take the facets of an action and continue to build on it. Be enthusiastic.

Negative-Nates are Debbie-Downers. Negativity is an infectious disease — it will infect many others in the organization. One needs an extra dose of positivity to combat against those that are negative. And this is particularly important if you are in a high-performance organization that recruits a lot of high-IQ people. Because high-IQ people are really good at seeing the problems (and they loudly complain about them).

(5) Report to someone making over $200k.

And if your goal is not just to impact the organization, but also to have high compensation, reporting to someone making over $X is very important if you want to make over $X. Of course, that does not mean you need to report to a super-well-paid person today. If you do the first four things, you will immediately be in the top 0.3% of desired employees in the world.

Note: this post originally appeared on Quora.