Think of improving your business credibility like improving your odds of online dating. You know what you have to offer, but that doesn’t mean everyone else can see it. Of course, you also don’t want to come off as a narcissist or braggart, so you can’t exactly boast about how great you are with zero tact.
You need to both tell and show your audience what you have to offer, and remember that the goal is finding the best match between you and each client, not promising you’re the perfect match for everyone–that’s just not possible.
There are a number of ways to build business credibility, and some strategies take longer than others. Of course, it all starts with building a reputable business with quality goods and/or services. Ask yourself if you’d want to do business with you. If the answer is yes, you can move forward and optimize your credibility with the following tactics:
Honesty in all things, from what services you offer to the quality of your products, should be part of your marketing efforts. Obviously, there are a lot of gray areas when it comes to marketing products because you want to show off your best side without hiding limitations. When creating a marketing plan, ensure that honesty is one of the pillars.
Joining industry-related organizations, participating in networking events and volunteering for local philanthropies are all ways to boost your business credibility. More and more, customers want to see the face behind the business–and they want to be impressed by it. Get involved and your credibility will start to climb.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with offering incentives, such as a discount or freebie, for honest reviews and/or suggesting which review sites customers should frequent. However, it’s not ethical to pay, bribe or plead for certain types of reviews. Keep a close eye on your reviews, address issues professionally when applicable, and remember that this is basically digital word of mouth.
There’s nothing wrong with a little bragging if you’ve earned it. If your business wins an award, achieves a certain milestone or if you’re being recognized for a business-related achievement, share your successes. It lets people know others are recognizing what you’re doing right, and a snowball effect will start.
You’re certainly not expected to send business their way, but the friendlier you are with your local competition, the better your community will be. There may come a time when you all need to rally together, and showing that you play fairly and nicely with your peers is important.
Most importantly, remember that building credibility will take time. There was an era when Walmart, Starbucks and many other major corporations were the little guys, too. Keep a positive outlook and practice good business in order to climb this slope.
Murray Newlands is the founder of Influence People, a marketing agency helping entrepreneurs from around the globe to succeed online. He is also a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs.