I can’t say enough how important building relationships is to your online success. Part of building those relationships is showing your credibility; making others value you, believe you and most importantly trust you. Remember one of the key reasons that people buy brand name goods and services on the Internet and in the off-line world is that the brand represents a level of quality that they know and trust. The bottom line – it is credible.
So how can you build credibility on the Internet for your business?
Step #1 – Consistency. People are more likely to trust a business or person who acts in a similar manner most of the time. For example, if you publish a newsletter to your customers or potential clients, it needs to be done on a regular basis. I suggest that more often is better. People are more apt to remember you and build the relationship of trust if you are “in their face” consistently. Also, be uniform in your style of writing and in the quality and layout. Branding is just as important in your newsletters as it is in every other aspect of your business. Remember, people are more likely to associate your newsletter with you if it looks the same each and every issue.
Step #2 – Earn Their Trust. Credibility is something that is earned. Therefore, you need to give of yourself to get trust back in return. There are many ways to do this. Some software businesses offer free trial periods so the customer can “try before they buy.” This process enables the potential customer to check that this product will do the job they say that it will. Not every service business has this opportunity of a “try it before you buy it”, but there are other ways that you can offer the same type of “offer”. I always encourage my clients to start small; give me a smaller project so I can show you that I can not only talk the talk, but I can also walk the walk. Once I have proven myself with this small project the next step is signing on for a long term project.
Step #3 – Share Your Knowledge. Today there are so many ways to share your knowledge; social media, blogging, newsletters, article marketing, the list goes on. Show them that you truly know what you are talking about; you are an expert so don’t be afraid to share that expertise. Another great way to share your knowledge, and one not often thought about, is monitoring discussion lists and boards that your potential customers frequent. Answer questions that they pose. Be a regular contributor to the list so that people come to know and respect your knowledge. The business will follow once you build the trust and ultimately the credibility.
Following these three easy steps will surely build your credibility and allow your business to move forward. Remember, however that the biggest key to the success of any business is in the follow through and in keeping your promises. Don’t ever promise to do something and then fall through. Don’t ever take on tasks that you know are outside of your talents and skills or your products capabilities. And don’t ever, ever make outlandish claims that are completely false. If you do any of these things trying to rebuild your credibility will be an upward battle you don’t want, or need, to endure.
The most important point to remember is that each thing you do in your business will affect the image of your business. Being focused on providing solutions to your customers, providing consistent quality and value for money, and being accessible will all help you achieve the credibility your business needs to succeed.