In a recent blog post I spoke about the role that credibility can play in increasing sales and today I want to look at the ways you may boost your business’ credibility and thereby establish a better relationship with your customers. Credibility speaks to the extent to which you are trusted or considered trustworthy by your audience. A simplified working definition from Mind Tools states that credibility is the feeling of trust and respect that you inspire in others. It is the quality of being believed in or being worthy of trust
The simple fact is that people prefer to buy from businesses they know and trust. This means that boosting your credibility with your customers is also good for your bottom line. From a marketing standpoint, it means more sales as customers will gravitate toward you and spread the word about what you have to offer. According to Brian Tracy, noted sales training and personal success authority, in business and sales, “the way you are perceived by someone, which will largely determine the influence you have over him or her, will be strongly affected by your level of credibility.”
While you may not have the clout or reputation of a large brand like Apple or Disney, it is possible to take specific steps as a small business owner to boost your credibility with your customers. To a great extent, credibility is primarily tied to social proof but there are other ways to boost your business credibility and really make a lasting impression with your customers. I would like to share some of those methods with you in this post.
1. Be intuitive – meet your customers’ needs before they ask
If you really want to make a good impression on your customers and increase the extent to which they trust you, do your best to meet their needs before they ask. The way to do this is by being such an authority in your niche that you are able to anticipate the needs of your customers without them having to tell you what those needs are. Know your product inside out, figure out all the possible ways it can impact your customers’ lives for the better and most importantly learn to see things through the eyes of your customers.
According to Paul Schoemaker, regional director at Wharton’s Mack Institute, with all the buying options and outlets for expressions of disappointment available to them today, customers are more powerful now than any other time in history. This means that businesses that want to be seen as credible and trustworthy by customers must learn to stand in their shoes and see the world from their perspective. As a business owner, your job is no longer just to know your products and services inside out, you must also know your customers intimately so that you will be better able to anticipate their needs and offer solutions that meet these needs effectively.
2. Deliver more than you promise
You may recall from a recent blog post on wowing customers, I spoke about under promising and over delivering as a way to wow customers. It is also an excellent way to boost your credibility. Think about it for a minute. Imagine placing an order for flowers from a florist for the first time and they promise delivery within 12 hours. You pay and leave, then an hour later you get a call from the recipient who just wants to say thanks for the flowers. If you need to order flowers again next week, who will you choose? Even better, when your friend asks for a florist, what are you likely to say? Not only will you reorder, but you will quite likely recommend this business the next time someone needs a good florist. By over delivering, the florist has proven themselves to be trustworthy so you now consider them to be credible.
3. Act with honesty and integrity
Acting with honesty, integrity and consistency is one of the surest ways to build your business’ credibility. Do what you say you are going to do. Keep your word and remain transparent. Again, Mind Tools has some useful advice on the matter.
“To preserve your integrity, think carefully about the choices and promises that you make, and never make a promise or commitment that you can’t keep. When you make a mistake, own up to it immediately and do whatever it takes to correct it.”
4. List awards and credentials
This is perhaps the most obvious item on this list. Yet there are some business owners who neglect to follow this one piece of advice. Displaying your credentials on your website is one of the easiest and most effective ways of boosting your credibility. This is a great place to make mention of your university degree, however, if you have not attended university that is not a deal breaker. If you have taken an online course that provided certification upon completion don’t be afraid to share that. Likewise if you or your business have won any awards share this information as well.
Tip: Use Badges for Aesthetic Appeal
A great way to do this is to use badges. These are logo-like images created by organizations that you can use to share your certification or award with your audience. In most instances these organizations have codes on their website that you may copy and paste into your own website so the image appears like the examples below from the Sales Management Association, Hubspot Academy and the American Academy of Project Management respectively.
Not only will these types of images do wonders for your credibility but they will also help to make your website more professional and aesthetically pleasing, which is a win for your business. NB. Only use badges for certifications that you have actually obtained.
5. Use testimonials
In matters relating to social proof, testimonials are one of the easiest ways to boost your credibility. They work so well because they play off of the premise that people are more likely to purchase a product or service that has been used and recommended by someone they know or someone like them. So while you could spend money on traditional advertising or write and rewrite compelling sales copy, a well placed testimonial from one of your existing or previous customers is more likely to sway potential customers. According to the folks at Crazy Egg , “The right testimonial can create credibility and gain the trust of a prospect.”
As far as testimonials go, you may get them from an influencer or authority figure, or you may choose to use testimonials from your average customer. Both types are effective and each may appeal to a different segment of your customer base.
It is not enough to simply have testimonials though. These testimonials must be used effectively to boost your credibility and help with marketing your business. It is recommended that you include a photograph of the customer giving the testimonial. This makes it much more believable and relatable. If you are unable to get photographs this is not necessarily a deal breaker. As an alternative you may list the name and location of the customer. If they have a website or run a business that benefited from your product or service you may include a link to that in the testimonial (with permission of course).
6. Share valuable and useful content
Customers like knowing they are not just being sold to; that you actually care about them and want to help them beyond a desire for profit. One way to really prove this over and over again, while boosting your credibility is to share valuable and useful content. Marketers have discovered that one of the easiest ways to gain a captive audience primed to purchase your offerings is to repeatedly share valuable and useful content. The best way to go about this is to choose an area that you are comfortable with and knowledgeable about. As a rule of thumb, this should be the same subject area as your business. That way the content you are sharing will be relevant to your audience. If you are life coach who offers coaching packages to your customers the content you share should be aligned with that purpose.
It will not happen overnight, but over time through continuously sharing helpful and valuable content you will assert yourself as an authority on your subject area and boost your credibility.
Tip: Consider guest posting on a reputed site relevant to your
According to Social Media Today, guest posting is a great way to share your content with a wider audience while boosting credibility. Unlike posting to your own blog, guest posting will require some additional time and effort. A few pointers I would suggest.
- Do your research to find relevant blogs with significant traffic and a great reputation.
- Research submission guidelines before writing anything.
- Make your pitch personal. Don’t send one generic form letter to every blog you’re interested in writing for.
- Once you’ve been accepted, work hard to submit an impressive post. Remember it will be seen by more persons than the content you post on your own blog.
- Once the post goes live be prepared to comment, engage and share it on social media.
7. List your contact information
It takes very little these days to create a website and have it up and running. In fact there are over 900 billion websites online today. This means there are challenges to determining which websites are legitimate and which ones aren’t. Simply put, it is tough to know who is safe to do business with. One simple thing that you can do to help your audience make this distinction is to list your contact information on your website. It will set your customers at ease to know there is a phone number they can call to get additional information as well as to resolve an issue with your product or service. Knowing your physical location – wherever in the world that may be – will also help to set your customers at ease and boost your credibility. Content Marketing Institute suggests going as far as adding a phone number and or email in the header on each page depending on the size and nature of your business. This sends a message to your customers that you are accessible and actually want to hear from them.
Question(s): Do you know of any business that you consider really credible? Why do you think the business has credibility with you? Please leave your answers and or comments below. It will be great to hear from you.