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How We're Leveraging Social Proof and Storytelling to Build a Sport

What's up y’all?

Sorry for the delay on this week’s newsletter as I’ve been digging myself out of my inbox after flying out to Las Vegas for Alibaba’s CoCreate conference. If you didn’t see on social, I spoke to a room of over 2000 people last week on a massive panel about product development & innovation.

This is absolutely a WTF moment for me because six months ago I would have thrown up 5 minutes before I took the stage due to anxiety of public speaking and secondly because it’s ALIBABA asking me to speak.

The moment you stop giving a fuck about what other people think is the moment you start crushing life. People are always going to hate. Everybody wants you to succeed until you do and you’re ahead of them. Put yourself out there. Create content. Make goals. Crush them and keep going.

Today, I want to talk about a topic that's been crucial when building CROSSNET: leveraging social proof and storytelling. I really don’t think we’d be where we are today without our loyal customers, sharing our story, and getting content created about a product they genuinely love.

I'm not gonna sugarcoat it – if you have a shit product, who really wants to share that? Building trust and engaging your audience is not easy… But with a solid plan, you'll be well on your way.

So, grab a beverage or Juvee (my favorite energy drink), and let’s do this thing. I’m hoping a few of these resonate as we get closer and closer to Black Friday.

If you’re like me, you are anxiously getting ready for Black Friday & Cyber Monday. The team over at PartnerHero is preparing two epic webinars on September 20th about how to crush this holiday.

So if you already have an amazing holiday campaign planned. You have your inventory and logistics planned. You need to focus on customer support and making sure that the end consumer is happy as a kid on Christmas morning.

Your holiday marketing will only be successful if your customer experience matches it.

Learn how to prepare for the best holiday season you’ve ever had with a FREE webinar from PartnerHero and the team who crushes it for Dr. Martens, LMNT, Bonobos and so many more.

Understanding Social Proof: The Key to Customer Trust

Sure beautiful photoshoots and staged commercials are amazing and serve a purpose but in this world of over-glamorization, people want the raw thing. The photo from the dad with half his finger over the lens. The iPhone 4 photo from the mom in the backyard. The grandma who uploads a 25 second video of her grandkids playing CROSSNET in the backyard and the video goes viral.

Show results: Whether it's testimonials, sales figures, or social media followers, show off your journey and get your customers involved. Mid-Day Squares is doing this now as they make their way to becoming a $100M brand. Stop reading now and go follow them on social for inspiration. They do 100x better than I’ll ever do in teaching you.

We saw a massive conversion boost when we started to add real videos and content from our customers. Out with the staged photography and in with the real stuff. Customers love to see people like themselves using the products and also are more apt to share in 2023 if they think they have a chance of having their content repurposed. Even at a macro level think about it personally as an entrepreneur. If a brand shares your story or a photo you took on the timeline you will gain new followers and increase your engagement. Its all a calculated game.

Case Studies: If you’re a B2B brand or have a more complex product (hair, makeup, vitamins) turn your most satisfied customers into case studies. Use it in your emails, post purchase, have them lead your Facebook groups. If you can have people who are paying for your product do your marketing there is no better situation. Pick up the phone. Send the email. Put in the work and build that relationship. They paid money for the product. Give them your time and watch it be reciprocated for months at a time.

One way that has worked great for us to further develop our relationship is cutting them in early on early products and product improvement. Ask them what could be better. What they would do differently? What do they want to see?

Nothing inspires trust like a real-life success story.

Influencer Marketing: Riding the Wave

One of my favorite things we’ve done over the years was mapping out partnerships with an influencer in each demo. You guys all have your own niches, but for us it was building a partnership with one mom, one dad, one Tik Toker kid, one professional women’s volleyball player, one professional men’s volleyball player, one well known physical education teacher, and one social media celebrity.

From there we gained the trust of others in their space and kept the spiderweb growing. The mistake we made along the way was overpaying for these people! If people really love your product they won’t cost you an arm and a leg. If they do and you don’t have the money budgeted then don’t spend it! Building an annual influencer budget and sticking to it on a monthly deployment schedule based on how the business is performing is key.

Choose the right partners: Don't just go for influencers with a massive following. Make sure their values and style align with your brand. You don't want to get caught up in a partnership that is a quick money grab. Choose long term partnerships and watch your empire grow. My guy Mark has crushed this with Carnivore Snax with Joe Rogan.

Build relationships: Don't just treat the influencers as transactional partners. Treat them like human beings and build a lasting relationship with them. Think about what you can offer them besides money. At the height of our influencer marketing CROSSNET had 317 influencers on monthly retainers. Each of them had a personal text thread, WhatsApp group, and best of all we let them all connect and form new friendships. I can’t take credit for it, but some of them now have even partnered up on the AVP World Tour (the NBA for volleyball).

Give them creative freedom: Influencers are influencers for a reason – they know their audience best. Give them the creative freedom to come up with content that resonates with their followers and speaks to your brand. Don’t give them a script or shit to do. Pick and trust them for a reason. It does help to have brand guidelines and examples of what you do and don’t like tho, especially if you’re putting up money.

Utilizing Customer Testimonials: The Real Talk of Credibility

I just saw somebody on my timeline getting sued for $2M for hiding all their 1 and 2 star reviews. I don’t know why the review apps would allow this feature if its against the law but apparently lawyers are attacking brands for this.

In short, it pays just to be real. Don't edit your testimonials to sound perfect – real people have flaws, and so do products. Honesty is the best policy. However, use those reviews to improve your shit. Don’t settle for a crappy product.

Carnivore Snax crushing the reviews

Whether its a phone call or a written response take the time to respond to negative feedback. The customer will appreciate it (even if they are a dick) and your prospective customers will love that you’re taking the time to make that person feel heard and to resolve the situation. We’ve even seen that our top-performing ads stay in rotation better when we take the time to respond to each question or comment.

Remember that people connect with faces, so do everything you can to get photos of satisfied customers enjoying the product. This adds an extra layer of credibility and humanizes your brand. Regardless of whatever review app you’re using you can motivate your customers to upload photo content by giving them a discount or a reason to come back and shop again.

The Psychology Behind Storytelling: Winning Hearts and Minds

Here’s my favorite checklist that we use during our marketing meetings.

Empathy: What is your audience’s pain point? How can we craft a narrative that speaks to them? Put yourself in their shoes and use that as the foundation for your storytelling.

Be Authentic: Your brand story and also your personal story should be authentic. Nobody wants to live a lie. Don’t try to be something you’re not or the audience will tell. I try each and every week to be honest, vulnerable and real and I hope that plays a small part in why you read this.

Emphasize Emotions: Think about the emotions you want your brand to evoke in your audience. What can you get your audience to feel? For CROSSNET its nostalgia, destressing, and disconnecting from technology. For this newsletter its allowing my readers to get 1% smarter.

Keep it Simple: Keep your storytelling straightforward. Don't try to cram too much information or stick to industry jargon. Less is more. That’s why I’m ending the newsletter now.

See You in San Diego

The nice thing about everything I shared today is that its all almost 100% free. Being thoughtful and going the extra mile with your story and messaging is all the difference between the brands that make it and the ones that don’t.

Trust and engagement take time and a whole lot of effort, but just like building this newsletter as long as you’re building positive traction week over week pat yourself on the back for making progress.

Remember, you're not alone in this, and we're all just trying to get better.

I’ll be in San Diego from Sunday to Wednesday for the Sendlane event! I’ll be speaking on the panel on Monday afternoon and going to be hosting a ton of different events from hiking, trips to the beach, playing SmashNet, and a private dinner. If you’re in town shoot me a note back and lets hang!

Until next time,