Establishing a great image as a small business owner builds trust in your brand and helps your details spread far and wide – both online and by word of mouth recommendations. This is vital for a new start-up building its reputation.
To do this, you need to ensure customers know that your company:
- Cares about its users
- Is honest about its products and activities
- Provides quality products or excellent services
- Performs consistently
- Responds positively to feedback and communicates well
- Remains relevant and engaging
The ability to demonstrate that you are an expert in your field and that you can be trusted to provide superb products, services and customer care will improve your business credibility and make it more likely that prospective customers will come to you instead of competitors.
Remember, between 70 and 80% of prospective customers will have researched you online before deciding to use you. For this reason, building trust through your online content and the quality of customer reviews you receive is vital.
In this article, we’ll explore ways of establishing credibility for small business owners.
Demonstrating a clear and consistent objective
One of the first steps required to build credibility is to create a personal brand for your company with a distinct purpose. This objective should be at the forefront of everything your business undertakes.
Sharing details of your company’s aims will give you a level of transparency, enabling customers to feel like they understand you inside and out.
Because of this, it’s important to keep all interactions with the public “on-brand”. This includes the content of blog posts and social media updates.
It can be tempting to comment on wider current affairs or other interesting subjects, but this will dilute from your company’s message and may alienate potential customers who are not interested in these other topics.
Keeping to a firm set of subjects that reflect the theme and approaches of your business can help you to establish yourself as an expert in your field and a go-to specialist.
Regularly sharing news about your company and its achievements will help to show that your objective is paramount during all of your business’s activities.
Working to keep your content and activities interesting, relevant and engaging
Keeping up with current trends will show that you are knowledgeable and passionate about your field. Share your opinions and expertise in the form of blog posts or by joining conversations on social media.
Vary your content – create how-to guides, include infographics and provide helpful tools to keep customers coming back. Doing this will also mean that your content is more likely to be shared.
While you need to ensure that your content is regularly updated, you need to make sure that every new piece has a clear purpose and does not feel cluttered.
Communicating with your audience well
It’s vital for your prospective customers to know how important they are to you. For this reason, your levels of customer service should always be extremely high.
Make sure that all questions and queries are answered in a clear, concise and friendly manner as soon as possible. This includes interactions via:
- Your website
- Social media
Private interactions – i.e. via phone or email – should also be handled in an expert manner. While this information isn’t visible to the public, the outcome may be shared via word of mouth or in positive or negative reviews.
It’s important to always communicate clearly so that customers know where they stand. This needs to include sharing even the most basic information, like making sure that your opening times are displayed on your Google listing and are correct.
Negative matters need to be addressed as openly and honestly as positive ones. For example, if your shop is temporarily closed due to flooding, you will lose credibility if you do not share this information across all notable platforms online.
While it may not look good that the shop is shut, customers who only find this out when they arrive will be unhappy. The best way to approach this is to apologise, reveal when the issue is expected to be resolved and explain how you will avoid similar problems in future.
Remaining accountable for your business’s actions at all times
This leads on from the previous point. Any problems should be immediately and transparently addressed, an honest apology should be made and your plans to prevent similar issues in the future should be made public.
Often, dealing with mistakes and problems in a way that is proactive and positive will help to build trust in your brand even further.
By contrast, making excuses or shifting the blame will lead to a downturn in trust.
Should you receive a negative review, for example, the best approach is to investigate the issues mentioned and respond as soon as possible in a heartfelt way, offering a straightforward means to resolve any problems and promising to learn from mistakes.
Of course, you must be able to demonstrate that any promises you have made are being kept.
It’s also important to remain accountable for your company’s successes. Sharing information about awards, accolades and positive reviews is another way in which you will appear credible. Never bend the truth or exaggerate – simply state the facts.
So – a clear objective, engaging interactions, great communication and full accountability are among the best ways to build business credibility.
To help your start-up thrive, make a clear plan detailing how you will approach each matter. Sticking to this plan will help you to build a strong image and keep levels of customer trust in your company high.