How “What Do You Think About It?” Can Make You a Better Copywriter

“I’m from Mo. Me you gotta show.”

I can remember hearing this little ditty back when I was a child. My mother explained it meant the speaker was from Missouri, the “Show Me State.”

Missourians allegedly demand proof.

Now, whether Missourians are more or less skeptical than other people remains to be proven. But one absolute truth about direct marketing is this: If you want your prospect to buy, support, subscribe, or act, you can’t expect him to act simply because you say so.

You must provide proof.

Betrayed by my background …

When I started in copywriting, my math/science background betrayed me. Proof meant one thing: scientific studies or data.

I didn’t know this type of proof, while important, has far less impact than the most effective proof.

What’s that most effective proof?

Your prospect is much more likely to act when friends, neighbors, and people like him tell him it’s a good idea.

What does my cousin Joan think about it? …

We see this in our lives all the time. Last week my friend Cindy recommended a movie she enjoyed. When I got home, I added it to my Netflix queue.

Have you ever considered buying a certain brand because a friend extolled its virtues? Certainly you have.

This type of “proof” – social proof – has far more power than other types. Even more so nowadays with the increase of social media and Internet ecommerce.

According to MINTEL – which calls itself the world’s leading marketing intelligence agency – 69% of Americans use the Internet to “seek out advice on goods and services before purchasing.”

These buyers are reading user reviews on Amazon or similar sites.

Pretty impressive.

But, how about this? Dan Kennedy says …

One means of replacing skepticism with trust that every sales pro, marketer, and copywriter is well aware of is social proof, most frequently presented via customer, client or patient testimonials.

Or John Forde (AWAI Copywriter of the Year winner and master copywriter) wrote …

Used right (morally as well as strategically), it [social proof] is a powerful tool for selling.

Which of these three proofs about social proof’s effectiveness resonated with you most? The citation of data was good. And, I have a lot more I could have given … including data from academic studies.

But for me, if Dan and John say it’s good, then I’m much more likely to turn to social proof. (Which I did, didn’t I?)

For the rest of today, we’re going to chat about four types of social proof you’re likely to use to make your marketing efforts more successful. You can use these regardless of the type of persuasive writing you do: direct-mail copywriting, emails, web copy, even white papers and advertorials.

Next week we’re going to dig deeper and look at how to make these four types of social proof work for you.

1. Expert social proof (endorsements) …

Your product’s credibility increases when it gets the stamp of approval from a credible expert in the field.

When Mark Ford and I finished the book Persuasion, Mark asked Bob Bly to write an endorsement. Bob’s words added tremendously to the cachet of the book. After all, he’s a recognized expert in persuasive copywriting.

Expert social proof can come in the form of a direct quote (like Bob’s), Twitter mention, press quote, or blog post. Your experts don’t even have to be known by name if their positions elevate them to the rank of expert. For example:

Jane Brown, chief researcher for Acme Marketing Analytics, says that social proof is …

For that matter, the expert doesn’t even have to be a person. It could be a periodical, an association, or the like:

Copyblogger stated that social proof …

2. User social proof …

User social proof includes customer testimonials, case studies, and online reviews. This type of social proof allows you to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

Take a look at AWAI’s website to see user social proof used effectively. Why does it work? We tend to see ourselves in other people’s stories. “If it could happen to Jane Brown, it could happen to me.”

Statistics (the 69% of Americans) is about an aggregate. And, it’s much harder for us to see ourselves as part of this large group than it is reflected in one person’s story.

3. The crowd social proof …

We all want to be viewed as individuals. True. But we’re also swayed by the current passion of the crowd.

McDonald’s knew this when they posted “10 Million Served,” then “100 Million Served,” then finally “Billions Served.”

Our very human instinct of not wanting to miss out on an opportunity drives this type of social proof.

You might not be writing copy for a business that boasts billions of customers. But, you can still use this social proof in your copy. Here’s a headline from the bio box in Kent Komae’s Mountain Home Nutritionals promo:

Why have NFL Players … professional dancers … and over 150,000 other Americans trusted Dr. David Williams?

4. Friends and family social proof …

This is what we discussed at the beginning. We tend to listen to recommendations of friends and family. But, with the rise of social media, this type of social proof has blossomed.

“Like,” “subscribe,” “follow,” supplement (and are supplanting) face-to-face recommendations. Go onto Facebook and you’ll see brands your FB friends have “liked.” I’ve downloaded free software for the cost of “liking” it on FB.

Some companies on Twitter take advantage of this kind of social proof, offering rewards for Twitter referrals.

These are not the only types of social proof available to marketers today. But they’re the ones that will serve you best as a copywriter … and that are easiest to use to boost response.

But their success is not a sure thing. We’ll talk about that next week … together with a confession of how I made a serious mistake using one of them.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


Click to Rate:
Average: 5.0
Published: August 3, 2015

2 Responses to “How “What Do You Think About It?” Can Make You a Better Copywriter”

  1. Hello Will, Family proof:
    Whenever I go shopping with my sisters.Once I try on some dresses, I would only buy the dresses that they approve because I know for sure they Want me to look the best.
    expert proof:
    I got the program :Money-Making Website because Rebecca Matter advise me to get it.I registered for The Barefoot Writer Club because Mindy Mchorse told me I need it. I involved in PWA because Katie Yeakle advised me.I follow their proof. Thank you . God Bless .Jane -Marie

    jennieAugust 3, 2015 at 9:24 am

  2. Hello Will, Family proof:
    Whenever I go shopping with my sisters.Once I try on some dresses, I would only buy the dresses that they approve because I know for sure they Want me to look the best.
    expert proof:
    I got the program :Money-Making Website because Rebecca Matter advise me to get it.I registered for The Barefoot Writer Club because Mindy Mchorse told me I need it. I involved in PWA because Katie Yeakle advised me.I follow their proof. Thank you . God Bless .Jane -Marie

    jennieAugust 3, 2015 at 12:03 pm


Guest, Add a Comment
Please Note: Your comments will be seen by all visitors.

You are commenting as a guest. If you’re an AWAI Member, Login to myAWAI for easier commenting, email alerts, and more!

(If you don’t yet have an AWAI Member account, you can create one for free.)


This name will appear next to your comment.


Your email is required but will not be displayed.


Text only. Your comment may be trimmed if it exceeds 500 characters.

Type the Shadowed Word
Too hard to read? See a new image | Listen to the letters


Hint: The letters above appear as shadows and spell a real word. If you have trouble reading it, you can use the links to view a new image or listen to the letters being spoken.

(*all fields required)