Prove or Die - Persuasive Prose

Prove or Die

One thing you need to know that will transform your marketing…


People don’t trust you


That might have come off a little harsh, so let me clarify. People who don’t know you, don’t trust you.

It’s human nature.

And it’s easy to see why when you look at your prospect’s lives…

Your prospects (and you as well), are continually bombarded with advertisements and sales messages. The New York Times reported back in 2007 that we encounter around 5,000 sales messages daily. Who knows what that number is up to today.

With the sheer amount of messages fighting for our attention… on the radio… in the paper… in your inbox… on the other end of the phone… we’ve had to learn a new skill:


Selective attention


Think about it as a consumer – how are you going to decide which of those messages to give your attention? Obviously you can’t pay attention to all (or even a fraction) of all the messages which come your way. Doing so would take up ALL of your time.

Then which of those messages should you believe enough, to take a chance to act on?

There are many factors involved in making a purchase decision, and the complete set of buying criteria will differ from person to person. But one psychological phenomenon that we all go through is the evaluation of risk.

And when it comes to making a purchase decision, one of the strongest barriers is…


Perceived risk


  • The risk of buying, then finding out it doesn’t live up to its promise…
  • The risk of buying, then seeing the same thing around the corner on sale…
  • The risk of buying, then it sits on the shelf gathering dust…


This is one of the most prevalent, dominant fears that anyone who faces a buying decision goes through. And it’s often an unconscious fear, something we attribute to common sense or instinct.

To combat this psychological risk we feel, we’ve learnt to become savvier about our decision making.

We’ve learnt to seek out…




From the moment your prospects come into contact with you, they will be intuitively looking for signs of proof.

They want to know that your product or service will live up to its promise. After all anyone can make a bold promise. But not everyone can deliver on it.

So as a consumer, we’ve learnt to look for a range of proof signals. Things that will help us believe in a company.

This is great news for us marketers. Because now we know there’s a reliable range of proof elements that we can focus on in our marketing (see the Practical Exercise below).

Aside from proof elements in your marketing, there’s another important strategy you can use to remove your customer’s perceived risk…


The risk free guarantee


Move the risk from them onto you.

Take away their risk by guaranteeing your performance. In essence, you’re putting your money where you mouth is. By being willing to risk real, tangible money to prove your promise is believable… you will increase your credibility… and your customers feelings of trust and security.

How powerful is it?

Domino’s built an empire from a single shop catering to college students, to the $1.98 billion company that it is today – on the back of a simple guarantee:

Pizza delivered hot to your door, in 30 minutes or less, or you don’t pay!


Guarantees have been proven split test, after split test, to lift the response of advertising.

Really, there’s no good reason to not make your guarantees a strong feature of your sales pieces. Because if you think about it, when are you not guaranteeing your work? As a legitimate business, if your job is sub-par or the service is lacking, you will generally satisfy your customer. Why not make it a feature of your business?

Use this as a key element of your sales pieces and communications. It can be a massive competitive advantage if your competitors refuse to offer it.


Practical Exercise

In this practical exercise we are going to look at several of the strongest forms of proof you can display in your marketing.

Because we live in a cynical world, we must make it as believable as possible for our prospects to trust that we can do the job!

Think where, and how, you might be able to integrate these forms of proof in your marketing:


  • Demonstration

"No argument in the world can ever compare with one dramatic demonstration" - Claude Hopkins.

How can you demonstrate visually, or otherwise, that your product or service provides the benefits that you promise?


  • Guarantee

How can you take the risk away from your prospect to make it easier for them to buy?


  • Reason Why

Get into the habit of explaining the reason why you're doing something. Rather than saying 'you can now get 20% off', it's much more powerful to say 'to celebrate the anniversary of your two years with us, we'd like to offer you 20% off when you buy this month'.


  • Explain the specifics

Get into the details of your offer. You can go a long way to prove your expertise if you delve into the specifics. Details and specific information is a lot more believable then vague statements. This applies as well to testimonials. It is much more persuasive for a testimonial to read 'Following Jenny's health plan I lost 9.5kg in 6 weeks, while exercising 3 times per week for just 30 minutes', than 'Jenny helped me lose weight'.


  • Testimonials

Testimonials are an important part of proving your promise. Tied into the psychological principle The Law Of Social Proof, we often look to others to get our ques on how to act... And if the product works for others then it may work for me too.


  • Admit a fault of your product

One way to very effectively position yourself as believable is by leading with a limitation. Studies by Robert Cialdini (The Laws Of Influence), have proven that when salesmen lead the selling process with a fault first, people are more willing to believe the promise, because they already assume his honesty. The trick it not to admit a fault that would be a deal breaker to your customers.

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