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5 Ways Social Proof Has Changed How Clients Refer You to Friends

February 11, 2016

With tax season in full swing, it is prime time to be working on your CPA, Enrolled Agent or tax practice to generate more referrals. Word-of-mouth marketing has changed dramatically from the old days, with more and more users using technology to get recommendations from friends and family. Facebook, and review sites like TaxBuzz are where many recommendations are asked for and received. 

To unlock the power of the modern-day referral pipeline, you need to augment your old processes with new ones. Social proof is backing up what you say about yourself with third-party validation through reviews, endorsements and mentions online. With the power of the web at a client or prospect’s fingertips, your online reputation is extremely transparent. Your audience can find a plethora of information about your business before ever speaking with you. 

  • 88% have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business
  • 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more 


Social proof enables you to use technology to create real human-to-human connections. It exists because people group together in society. It matters whom others recommend and choose to work with. The people you surround yourself with are always pushing and pulling you to do or not do certain things. This influences your behavior and decision-making process.

1) Negative reviews will counter any word-of-mouth referral

A long-time client refers a new small business to your CPA firm. The entrepreneur googles your name to check out your website and find your phone number.

What do they see at the top of the search results?

The new prospect can’t miss the one-star review from a disgruntled former client who you parted ways with years ago.

Negative comments mean you’re in trouble. And you may not even know it until you notice your practice has contracted over the year. Being proactive by attracting five-star reviews year round helps protect your brand from one bad experience.


2) Positive reviews can help you overcome cost concerns

If a prospect is greeted with client story after client story of the value you provide or the problems you have solved, you have already started positioning your brand as a solution provider versus a commodity. Readers will start thinking of the benefit you provide versus the cost. Nothing is more effective in starting a new relationship than addressing the fear of being taken advantage of from the start.


3) The majority of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal referrals

This is really all about authenticity. Fake reviews stand out like a sore thumb. But honest client reviews that tell a unique story provide prospects with a unique look behind the scenes of what they should expect if they become a client.


4) Client reviews tell a story

Verified reviews seem to include more details and a better storyline than traditional five-star ratings by themselves. If your clients can tell in their own words how you assisted them, it will go much further in influencing readers’ behavior. Client stories are persuasive and enable prospects to imagine the same type of results.


5) Earn referrals

The #1 descriptor we see over and over again on client reviews is “responsiveness.”  This goes both ways: Either the professional is always there for a client or they never call the client back. It is vital that you take every opportunity to earn your clients’ trust. If a client trusts you, it is much more likely that they will tell their family, friends and colleagues about you.

The most likely time you will get a referral is during a life event, when someone has tax issues or is starting a business. You want to be top of mind when that opportunity arises. Include referral copy on your email signature and website. Mentioning that you are always available to assist with friends will go a long way in building up your referral pipeline.


These are just a few tips on what motivates consumers in the internet age. Social proof should be part of your marketing strategy.

Pro advice, ideas, and information to help your practice get going and grow.

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Lee Reams II

I am a marketing junkie who has spent the last 20 years developing and executing "best in class" word-of-mouth marketing campaigns. With over 10,000 happy clients I think we are on to something. The explosion in web marketing and social media have redefined the way independent professionals market their practices. Follow my blog to see if you can take some of our actionable ideas to market your own practice.

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