Don’t believe the hype – How to get the best out of your social proof when marketing to schools

Guest post by Chris Bradford, Bee Digital marketing to schools agency

You sell to teaching professionals.

Serious people with serious jobs and serious responsibilities.

Or at least that’s what it looks like on the surface.

In reality, there’s no such thing as a “teacher” (No, I’m not going mad. Stick with me.)

There’s only a “person that teaches”.

And they’re just as full of the same insecurities, biases, status concerns, and general human fragility as the rest of us.

Why do you think schools insist on free trials? Getting 3 quotes? Seeing a Sales Rep?

They’re all ways to mitigate risk.

And social proof is part of that important ‘reducing risk’ conversation with your prospects.

90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. And 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.”

Teachers get as nervous as you do about making the wrong choice. Buyer’s remorse – the occasional nauseating feeling of regret after purchase – is as real for teachers as anyone else.

In their personal lives, they check reviews on Amazon, read hotel feedback on Tripadvisor, and spend hours reading and posting opinions of restaurants on local Facebook groups.

Just like you do.

And they don’t leave these behaviours at the school gate the minute they turn up to work.

This is why you need to take your social proof very seriously if you want to avoid losing business to your competitors.

Go beyond the review

The first time a teacher finds you they don’t trust you. Yet.

It’s marketing’s job to forge trust and tell a story that resonates with your chosen audience.

I’m sure you’ve got some social proof already. A few tasty testimonials from customers. Perhaps a solid case study or two.

No doubt you show them off on your website. Maybe in one of those cute page blocks that rotate a carousel of bite-size quotations.

Job done! You rub your hands together thinking about all the teachers swooning over your lovely hand-picked endorsements.

Except it’s not quite enough, is it?

While those quotes are super important, there are other ways you can leverage social proof in your marketing and really show off the impact your product has in schools.


Tap into your community.

Gather user-generated evidence

A review is the most common form of user-generated social proof.

But it shouldn’t be your only evidence. You should also look into other ways to capitalise on your audience’s sentiment.

Socially generated proof satisfies two aims:

  1. It taps into the ‘wisdom of crowds’ idea that large groups of people are collectively smarter than individuals.
  2. It confirms the “bandwagon effect”, otherwise known as the “people like me like this” bias.

If a prospect, with many other products to choose from, doesn’t see themselves in your marketing then it’s harder for them to connect to it.

And if they’re struggling to connect to it, why would they make the effort to advocate for it at the next staff meeting?

Try out the following ways to expand and deepen your social confirmation.

Use images made by your customers as social proof

Pictures and videos, even lower quality “snapped in the moment” photos, of your product being used by your customers are enormously persuasive. Canvas your customers for pics and videos and pepper them throughout your website.

Spend £500 on a local photographer to capture your product in use by kids and teachers. It’s money well spent and far more effective than boring stock photographs.

In fact, why not get rid of all your stock photography and replace it with user-generated and user-centric media? It shouts authenticity and makes your brand more approachable.

Customer Q&A as social proof

Customer questions and answers, asked by prospects and answered by customers, then displayed on your product pages, are a useful way to exhibit real-world customer use cases. Amazon famously does this well (and even lets people vote on the answer quality).

Could you implement something like this into your product pages?

Unearth social proof the minute your prospect becomes a customer

Early on in your ‘Welcome’ email nurture series (you do have one, right?) ask this simple question: “Why did you choose us?”.

No point in asking later as they’ll have forgotten. Strike now – while their buying decision is still fresh in their minds – and you’ll get feedback gold on why they bought from you and not someone else.

Blend social media proof into your marketing

Use a social media live feed to show prospects how engaged your audience is

Show off Tweets and Instagram posts that positively support your brand, product, and service. Because social media is a public forum every time a teacher posts a positive message about you they’re expending a little social capital.

They’re taking a risk by posting it.

So in effect, this creates authenticity. Other teachers understand that a teacher put themselves on the line saying how completely brilliant you are.

Use a social media feed product like Flocker or for displaying a live feed or a social media aggregator like tagembed to live display hashtags to show this evidence off to good effect directly on your website.

It also demonstrates that you are not afraid to display unadulterated opinions, which speaks to your confidence in your product.

And confidence is convincing.

What questions might a teacher ask themselves before choosing your company?

With that in mind, consider appraising your current value proposition and seeing it through the lens of a person who identifies in certain ways with particular traits and biases.

Does it embrace themes to which your target customer responds positively?

People buy from people they like

When a teacher prospect is evaluating your product or service they aren’t just looking at the technical features, reviews, and pricing.

They are also looking at how you AND your customers talk about your company.

You can and should create positive brand affinity with your product so teachers can feel comfortable being a customer.

By creating a brand your audience can relate to you will start to get social proof that aligns with your values.

Which you can then leverage in future marketing to reinforce that message.

And, hopefully, you end up with a positive social proof loop.

But to do that you need to establish what you stand for in the first place. Then, when a teacher buys into your product, they are effectively saying to their colleagues (and the wider world!) that THIS is who best represents me professionally and personally.

Because you can’t divorce those two elements.

Remember, you’re not selling to teachers. You’re selling to people who work as teachers.

This is why user-generated social proof, and how you get the best out of it, is vital to succeeding in our incredibly competitive education market.

If you’d like to speak to our friends at the Bee Digital marketing agency about their creative marketing services for companies that sell to schools, please drop us an email and we’ll make a personal introduction.

Updated on: 17 February 2023

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