On a recent trip to Sydney, I had cause to visit the Harbourview Hotel for a cold beverage (it was the night of the first Rugby League State of Origin after all!). I have often mentioned the power of social proof as a method of pre-conditioning prospective clients and if you allow me some latitude, the HarbourView had a classic example of that right in front of us running up the side of the main bar!
You see people are willing to make all sorts of decisions and actively participate as long as there is proof that someone else has done it before. Evidence that it is somehow socially acceptable and that they are safe in making the same decision.
If you look closer at the picture, you will see that someone has glued coins from a variety of foreign currencies to the timber frame of the bar. I’m sure that there was initially just a collection that had accumulated from the various travellers that had patronised the bar.
Now everyone that observed the growing collection and had something to add to it, volunteered their contribution. The resulting viral affect has created social proof of the multi-national patrons and added some classic pub character to this Aussie Public Bar that quite literally sits in the shadow of one of Australia’s tourism icons – The Sydney Harbour Bridge.
It’s Not a Conscious Thought Process
I doubt that the majority of people will make such a literal connection based upon the coins glued right in front of them. In fact, I can guarantee that many of the people that I shared a drink with that night may not have even realised that the coins were there at all (then again, most of them were New South Wales supporters crying in the beer over the result – again).
For anyone that did notice, it creates a sense of comfort if they happened to have recently arrived from any other country and it has the potential to evoke nostalgic memories for those that enjoyed their travels whether they were recent or a half a life time ago.
Even if neither of these responses are activated in the observers brain, it adds to the personality of the bar and speaks to it’s character – this bar must be popular with the tourists!
You Can Say So Much Without Speaking
This may be a simple example but it drives home the key message that a small amount of social proof can pre-condition appropriate behaviour and create an immediate impression.
Can you think of ways that you have been pre-conditioned to respond in a particular fashion by social proof? If you have not been aware of it, know that it happens to us all the time and in such a wide variety of situations. Keep an eye out for it happening and let us know about it when you become aware of it happening. As professional salespeople, the more we are all able to deliberately take advantage of social proof and preconditioning the desired responses (or stop it from happening to us), the better off we all are.
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