10 Ways Your Business Can Boost Its Credibility
Sander Biehn is founder and CEO of Thought Horizon, LLC. After a successful career in sales at AT&T, he founded his company in 2013 helping organizations to build, manage and succeed using social selling.
If you know me, you know I preach the gospel of CREDIBILITY. When it comes to business, there is nothing more important than your credibility.
Being perceived as credible by those you do business with can make or break you. Without credibility, no one will buy from you. Why? Because anyone who encounters you, your business, or your brand for the first time will ask themselves “Who is this?” If the answer isn’t some form of “someone I can trust,” you have no chance in converting them to a customer.
IT’S ALL ABOUT TRUST
You can say anything about your business that you want, but it is unlikely you’d ever say anything negative. Potential customers, however, want to get the complete picture of you. What are you good at? What are you poor at? Can I trust you to do what you say? What do others think about you? To get these answers, they look for information from other sources. (This is why influencer marketing is blowing up right now, but we’ll save that topic for another time.)
Fortunately for your customers, we have the internet. After you talk with a potential customer, she is certain to Google you. If the results are mostly good, you have a chance at a sale. If the results are not mostly good, then you’re screwed.
HOW IS YOUR BUSINESS PERCEIVED ONLINE?
99% of the time, potential customers are going to start with your website. Then they may look at your LinkedIn pages, Twitter profiles, your Facebook pages, and any other results that come up in Google. They’re going to look at the quality of the page, the content – at the overall image you project to the world. Then, they’re going to form an opinion.
When any one of the above is non-existent, incomplete, or done poorly, it will turn that customer away. You wouldn’t hand someone a business card you printed at home on a plain piece of paper and cut out with a pair of scissors. A bad website, a poor quality video, or lack of followers on Twitter all send the same message as that amateur business card.
I learned this lesson the hard way. In 2012, I started Pronovos, an innovation consulting practice. I had an experienced advisor who recommended that I focus on getting out and talking to people directly. He said my website, blog, and Twitter content weren’t important until I established myself with a few lighthouse accounts. At the time, it made sense to me, so that’s what I did.
Potential clients Googled my business and found nothing to back-up that I could actually do what I said I could do. I hadn’t established enough credibility. 18 months later, I closed the practice and moved on.
THE 10 THINGS YOU NEED TO DO TO INCREASE YOUR CREDIBILITY
Here are 10 things you need to do to increase your credibility, and therefore, increase your chances of selling your product or service:
1. Buy your domain. Having a domain name is essential. This is the number one mistake businesses make. Web addresses likegeocities.com/jimsbizsolutions and email addresses like email@example.com just scream amateur hour. Plunk down a few dollars and get your own domain.
2. Build a good looking website. If you built your website with WordPress over a long weekend, it probably isn’t up to snuff. If your website isn’t easy to use, doesn’t have any information about your business, or isn’t visually appealing, SCRAP IT! You need to have a good looking website that works on all browsers and on mobile. It needs to have the information your customers expect to find so they can make informed opinions about your business. Make sure you include the services you offer, customer testimonials, and contact information. Spend a few extra dollars for some good looking graphics and you’ll exude credibility.
3. Get a professional headshot. Too many people use the wrong picture to represent themselves professionally. If you expect customers to treat you as a professional, you have to look like a professional. Invest a few dollars in a headshot, and use it on your website, LinkedIn, and Twitter pages.
4. Set up a LinkedIn profile and Company page. Does your LinkedIn profile portray you as an expert, with many recommendations, and lots of connections? It should. Use your LI profile to tell the story about how you’re the right person to do the job. Display your experience, projects, and awards. You don’t have to explain in detail, just use bullet points and keywords to show you have the experience. Also, build out your company page. Upload your logo. Make it look good.
5. Blog. A lot of people see this as a waste of time, but it isn’t. This is an opportunity to speak directly to your customers. To help them solve problems. To demonstrate your expertise. Blogging is key. Keep blogs short, and keep them helpful. Don’t blog about your problems, blog about solutions to your target customers’ problems.
6. Write an eBook. Nothing says credibility like someone with a book. Put together a short eBook with general information of the problem you solve and your solution. Make sure it is helpful to your customers. When they see you have an eBook, they’ll know you know what you’re talking about. You can get a copy of Thought-Horizon’s eBook here.
7. Get a few Lighthouse accounts. If you already have customers, you should be using those customers to get more customers. It’s called social proof. Some people are only willing to buy when they know that others have already bought and were satisfied. Use your best customers as references. Place them prominently on your website. Ask them to be references, and develop business cases and testimonials using examples from those customers.
8. Speak at a conference. Instant credibility can be obtained by presenting on a topic in a forum. Find a conference that will give you an opportunity to speak or lead a break-out session. Find a local college professor to let you give a guest lecture to his class. Host a small panel discussion in a private room at a local restaurant. If you do a great job, it can turn into more offers to speak. It’s like the snowball effect for your credibility.
9. Surround yourself with experts. Start or join a network of thought-leaders in your area of expertise. LinkedIn groups are a good place for this. Find out who the experts are, reach out, and get to know them on a first name basis. Before long, you’ll be one of the group.
10. Get media recognition. Whether it is your local business chronicle, newspaper, trade magazine, or just a well-read blog. Getting mentioned will get people talking about you. Make sure you point out on your website that you were featured by these media outlets.
How many of these 10 things is your business taking advantage of? Have another idea? I’d love to hear what you’re doing to boost your credibility. Tweet at me @mattapesos or email firstname.lastname@example.org