To succeed in 2023, businesses must establish authority in their market. Social proof comes in many forms—industry awards, five-star reviews, press features, and word-of-mouth referrals are all powerful ways to influence potential customers. But social proof is more than just a marketing tool; it builds confidence within your audience, ensuring new client relationships start off from a foundation of trust.
For interested clients, there is a lot of pressure to find the right vendors for their events. That’s where third-party credibility comes in—it confirms their decision to inquire and provides a credible reason to hire you.
Of course, social proof is nothing new. In fact, it’s already everywhere. From the countless Amazon reviews influencing our choices to celebrities endorsing their favorite toothbrush, we constantly look for others to confirm our purchasing decisions. And the fact of the matter is that it absolutely works! Time and time again, statistics show that Millennial and Gen Z consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations.
But how does social proof fit into the event industry? Third-party credibility is an expected part of the sales and marketing process, especially as the market increasingly fills with Millennial and Gen Z professionals and engaged couples. So whether you serve corporate events or weddings, it’s time to leverage social proof to your advantage.
If you are behind the curve, use these effective strategies to earn publicity and highlight your brand’s social proof to draw in more customers.
Streamline your testimonial requests
Client reviews are invaluable for establishing trust with potential clients, so make sure you are collecting testimonials after every event. There are many platforms to consider—Google, Facebook, The Knot, WeddingWire, Yelp—so pick one or two and start amassing positive reviews. Collecting more reviews also provides valuable feedback to improve your internal processes!
Testimonials are best collected when the event experience is still fresh in their minds, so build requests into your offboarding workflow. If you already have an email template, simply add a few lines and make it easy by linking to your review site(s) of choice. Don’t forget to follow up if you have not heard back!
Ramp up your event submissions
Event features are the low-hanging fruit of event publicity, as you have already done most of the work by executing a flawless event! All that is left is submitting it to blogs and other industry publications. Real event features continue to be one of the most effective ways to win over potential clients, so take advantage of this easy opportunity.
To get started, think about events that have taken place in the last six months. Then, look ahead to consider the events that will rise to the top this year. What will be the most editorially-friendly celebrations? Be mindful to focus on the types of events that you want to book again, as that is the clientele you will attract from your earned media features.
Offer expert quotes in the media
There’s more to press features than published events. Event pros are in a great position to provide expert quotes to the media. When writers prepare articles about the industry, they need insights from inside sources like you. When you become part of the conversation, you stand out as a thought leader who knows the ins and outs of the industry. Plus, you get to earn valuable backlinks to boost your SEO efforts. Double win!
All it takes to put yourself out there is a brief email introduction to editors that cover topics related to weddings and events. Spend some time researching ideal publications and how to connect with their editorial team. Keep your audience in mind, as you’ll want to focus on media outlets that will attract your ideal clients.
Lean into podcasts
Podcasts are an excellent way to share expertise, showcase your personality, and add to your press portfolio. There are many wonderful event industry podcasts, including B2C shows geared toward engaged couples and B2B shows geared toward vendors. So if you are a talker, there is no reason not to jump into the world of podcast interviews!
Take some time to sit down and see what podcasts stand out to you. For many, applying is as simple as filling out an online form or sending a friendly email pitch to introduce yourself. But before you do, prepare a shortlist of topics you can speak on with key takeaways that listeners will learn.
Apply for awards
Third-party accolades are the best social proof you can find, so keep an eye out for “best of” lists and awards that fit your brand and would impress your ideal clients. In many cases, you can self-nominate your business by submitting your body of work to the judges, so curate your portfolio to include the best of the best!*
Display social proof everywhere
So you’ve earned some fantastic press features—now what? If you’ve got it, flaunt it! Social proof is only effective in sales and marketing when you show it off. Consider showcasing press, awards, notable leadership positions, and other accolades in these areas:
- An “as seen on” section on your homepage and active landing pages
- A dedicated press page on your website (wait until you have three or four to start!)
- On social media profiles, like your Instagram bio
- Your email signature
You and your team do incredible work, but it’s time to get some recognition! Testimonials, media features, and awards demonstrate your experience and expertise, so don’t be afraid to let others sing your praises in 2023. Once you start maximizing the power of social proof, you’ll find that it takes far less effort to influence prospects and close your sales!
*Editor’s Note: Click here to learn about submissions for this year's ACE and GALA awards!
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.