The best way to persuade someone to do or buy something is to have someone else to do it for you. People trust what other people tell them more than what a brand recommends.

A study by Nielsen found that more than 88 per cent of people read product reviews online and 83 per cent of those trust reviews of people they know. The study also showed that 66 per cent trust reviews written by unknown parties. Consumers even trust people they’ve never met! Suffice it to say, your target audience is more likely to engage with a brand when it’s recommended by a person.

When your audience seeks out a review, trust in the content increases.

The same study found that 70 per cent of people trust company websites. Things start to get fuzzier with consumer outreach initiatives like brand sponsorships (trusted by 60% of people) and email marketing (trusted by 56% – even when they sign up).

Reviews are endorsements.

Positive mentions on social media and reviews by consumers are endorsements. Spread them like wildfire and drive your audience to those sites where your feedback is positive.

Take a lesson out of McDonalds’ playbook. For years consumers complained about how early the fast-food chain stopped serving breakfast. This is an endorsement in disguise: people love McDonalds’ breakfast so much they wanted more of it.

Listening to the feedback led to taking action and McDonalds launched all-day-breakfast last month. The accompanying ad campaign focuses on the real consumer comments consumers about the initiative.

Direct celebrity and political endorsements still work too.

For an endorsement from a high-level politician to work, it must be tailored in a similar way to a celebrity endorsement. The endorsee must share similar values with the brand and the celebrity or politician must command an audience that the company is trying to reach.

In the final two weeks of this election cycle, then-Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau turned to 94-year-old former Mississauga Mayor Hazel “Hurricane” McCallion, who held the office for 36 years, for endorsement. McCallion is one of Canada’s most respected personalities. A national survey in 2011 found that she had a 78 per cent approval rating, she won her last election in 2010 with 76 per cent of the vote and more than 100,000 people voted for her. McCallion’s “Do I Look Scared to You?” commercial targeted senior citizens and Ontarian residents, two important voting groups that heavily contributed to the Liberal win.

Post-election polling performed by EKOS found that messaging in the final days of the election swayed voters in Ontario and senior citizens in particular. The Liberal Party won 24 out of 29 ridings in the cities that surround Toronto, including a complete sweep of Mississauga and Brampton, and arose victorious among seniors in those ridings who had previously voted Conservative in 2011. McCallion’s video aligned with the campaign’s messaging and her audience represented the target demographic.

With endorsements it isn’t just about which ones you get but in how you use them that helps them work. Reach out to people who speak favourably about your product or services and collect their success stories. Give these stories visibility on your owned and paid channels to give them legs and gain even more value from them.

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About James Rubec

James Rubec is a data geek, a former public relations lead and journalist with a love of content and advocacy. Ask him anything @JamesRRubec and be sure to follow @Cision_Canada

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