136-321549648_6aecc08d0c_m.jpgMy good friend Munya Hoto once told me that we live to produce proof. I like that. It means that we live to produce physical proof of what we believe.

When I started out as a consultant two years ago, I had some proof, but it wasn’t clearly documented. The first thing to do is certainly to produce proof (and once you have, that doesn’t separate you from most), but actually producing that proof in a way that someone get’s it is hard work. Many of us have successes, but still there isn’t the knowledge of those successes that we’d like.

I think the thing with proof is that one man’s proof is not another man’s proof. I was talking to a friend the other day and offering some insights in their business. Whilst they are greatly respected, no one really knows exactly what this person does and therefore doesn’t purchase or promote their services. To him, there was proof, but to others, there wasn’t.

Michael Meyers, my pastor, and I were talking the other day and he made the exceptional observation that everything you say before the event is an intangible. It’s only after the event that you have something tangible. That is sooo good – because don’t just all of us focus on before the event, rather than after the event? “I can do this, we will have this, we have got this going on, I am able to deliver this for you,” etc, etc – but this is all intangible speak. Rather we should be saying “I have produced this. I have done this. We have made this happen. Do you want it too?”

Before the event is intangible, after the event is tangible.

This is why my friend saw they had proof but others hadn’t. He’d seen what he’d done before – the tangible parts – but he couldn’t communicate it in a tangible way.

Michael went on to say two further things which illustrate what you need to do, which I thought were gold:

1. Pick up the proof

After you’ve done it – after the event – you have to pick up the bits that prove you did it. The testimonies, the videos, the reviews, the blogs, the Facebook comments and the best tweets.

I’ll be honest, this is something I’m bad at because I’m exhausted after the event. His tip is to introduce a team of people whose sole responsibility is post-event PR. I’ll be giving it a go over the coming months, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

2. Publish the proof

Once you’ve picked it up, you need to publish it. This is where Social Channels help. Scatter that proof, baby. Have it on YouTube, the blog, the static pages, on Flickr, on Twitter, on Facebook. Make sure every channel has proof – because people are always looking at various channels and might never see the whole picture.

Your Leading Thoughts

  1. I’m bad at producing proof and need to get better. If you are successful at this, what tips can you share?
  2. This does fly in the face of the myth of the over the top digital personal brand, because they often lack proof. How do, however, produce proof without bragging?

Interesting image courtesy of Austin Kleon

Archived Comments

  • http://radsmarts.com Robin Dickinson

    This is excellent, Scott. In my experience, signposting proof after the event is a really good habit to get into. When you’ve done a great job and delivered the promised results, make a habit of making sure people understand that you have in fact delivered what was promised. It’s like an educational program.

    People are often busy and overloaded with information, so it’s important not to assume anything. This is not a plea for self-aggrandizement, rather the clear and gentle signposting of the value that you have added.

    Best, Robin :)

  • http://twitter.com/VelChain Dave Lutz

    Scott, nice observation! Last year I was part of an educational program at IAEE (Int’l Assoc of Exhibition & Events). We developed a session entitled Attendee Engagement – Onsite +30. Our concept was that you can’t relax after the event, you need to work hard for the next 30 days to make it stick and sharable. You have a finite window to do the majority of that.

    We touched upon these five critical areas of engagement for major events:

    Lead Nurturing
    Professional Connections
    Learning experience
    Sharable memories

    Hitting the mark with all of these helps create desire for future participation and influence.

  • http://twitter.com/98rosjon Jonny Rose

    When it comes to something such as ‘Thought Leadership’ which is where one of your strengths lie, it is (unfortunately) quite difficult to show proof.
    Most Thought Leaders/ mentors’ output produces *change* in people although it is very hard for the beneficiaries of this to demonstrate tangibly how they have benefited from it. Unlike with weight loss – there can be no ‘Before’ and ‘After’ pictures of going from confusion/stagnation > inspiration or weakness > empowerment.

    It’s a tough one.

    One way of producing proof without bragging is to get others to provide testimonials. You occasionally see these on solo brand websites e.g. ‘Things satisfied customers have said…’.
    The brilliance of WOM is that a truly satisfied customer – who has had a personal *experience* of your work – will provide more ‘proof’ than a myriad of multiplatform evidences from yourself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1341154669 Codi Dillon Spodnik

    Hi Scott –

    I agree that genuine positive testimonials are likely to appear in a variety of channels, not just as a feed of pats on the back on an individual’s website. While a testimonial might need to be requested or cultivated, it only sounds real coming from THEM. Maybe we need to broaden the channels that already allow for recommendations – like LinkedIn – or educate and encourage our supporters to use social media on their own.

    As an example, I just got a new job. It starts Monday and it sort of fell into my lap. I’ve been doing a lot of volunteering for causes I care about over the last 6 months and asked those contacts to be be references. After each reference was contacted, they called or wrote to let me know what they said. Scott, I couldn’t believe how flattering their responses were! Personally, I felt as I if I had not yet completed any of my volunteering projects, but these organizations felt they had enough “proof” to recommend me. That would simply have not sounded the same if I had told my prospective employer that these other folks in the community think highly of me. That just sounds like bragging.

    The notion of putting a video testimonial up on YouTube, cultivating evangelists to Tweet and post about your engagement with them, linking to others that have blogged about their experiences at your events – those are all genuine proof. I am excited about exploring this idea about tangible results. It blows the “cult of self” out of the water!

  • http://radsmarts.com Robin Dickinson

    Let us all know how you get on with exploring this idea, Codi. Best, Robin :)

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Robin

    You make a very good point. It’s something I’m still bad at. Hopefully I will learn it over the next few months with some upcoming events.


  • / Scott Gould

    Very true Dave – the work doesn’t stop when the event does.

    Thanks for sharing these ways that you follow up – I will add them to our procedure and get preparing them!


  • / Scott Gould

    Proof for thought leadership I guess is in their academic output and speaking.

    Luckily for me – I have tangible things like Like Minds and Church to show what I do.

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Codi

    Thanks for the comment and congratulations on the job! And congratulations on those references – it certainly shows what a good impression you’ve made, which I can certainly see is true from my few interaction with you thus far.

    I think you’re right – the proof is just showing what others have said.