Let’s face it: one of the biggest challenges for small businesses is earning the trust of prospective customers to win their business over more established competitors.
Don’t fret! Fortunately, in this day and age there are a number of affordable ways to build credibility with prospective buyers in any market.
Create a professional presence with a virtual office
For many small businesses and startups, a physical office is out of the financial realm of possibility. While a home office may be the best option both financially and logistically, it does not always send the best impression to prospective customers.
A commercial address for your office carries a degree of professionalism and established legitimacy that customers can trust. Would you rather buy a product from someone selling it out of their home or an office?
This doesn’t mean you have to go out and sign a lease on an office building! Fortunately, there are a number of virtual office services available which present an affordable alternative to this. A virtual office service provides your business with a dedicated address that is not attached to an actual building. All of your mail is handled by the provider for an affordable monthly fee. Believe it or not, an address alone can really legitimise your business in the eyes of the customer.
Get a dedicated virtual landline for your business
Much like the case with a residential address, a customer will have a hard time trusting a business that can only be reached via the owner’s personal mobile phone. A virtual landline is an affordable alternative to the expensive and clunky phone systems many larger companies use and can give your business a professional appearance.
With a virtual phone system, you can have a separate landline number for your business that forwards calls to your home, office, or mobile phone. You can also setup a professionally recorded voicemail greeting with multiple extensions so that customers can get in touch with any of your employees as well.
Setting up a virtual landline to essentially act as your receptionist is a subtle, yet effective way to communicate your professionalism to customers.
Make your website a work of art
Your website is more often than not, the first place a prospective customer will see your brand. What is your brand’s message? What is the tone of your brand?
The content and design of your website should clearly and consistently embody your brand in order to build credibility. The upfront time and investment in developing a design theme and content that embodies your brand is worth the long-term benefit.
The trick here is to make sure these themes are consistent across the site, because an inconsistent brand message will confuse customers and hurt your credibility.
Become an expert in your industry and blog about it
Nothing will help your credibility more than being an expert in your area of business. Already an expert? Great. Expert or not, you should take an hour a day tops to read articles relevant to your industry. You can then take this knowledge and write blog posts about it for your site. Creating valuable and informative content is a great way to “earn your stripes” with your target audience.
The more content you can get on your blog, the better, but for many small businesses the resources needed to maintain a blog on a weekly basis simply aren’t there.
There are plenty of ways around this for businesses with fewer resources.
Hiring an intern to manage your blog is an easy solution as well as networking with influencers in your industry to guest post on your blog.
It is crucial to demonstrate your knowledge to your customers, so any level of blogging is better than nothing at all.
Create a customer testimonials page
Keep in contact with your customers after they’ve purchased your product. Offer support when needed and ask for feedback, as this will help create happy customers which is always good for your credibility. Take the time to put together a list of happy customers based on their feedback on your product and reach out asking for a few sentences on what they like about the product and how it’s helped them. Ask for their permission to use quotes on your site and begin building a customer testimonials page.
A customer testimonials page is not only a perfect way to build credibility, but is also a great way to enhance your relationships with your customers by linking to their websites. This can open the door for guest posting opportunities between you and your customers, which will increase your brand’s visibility.
Maintain a presence on social media
Like blogging, sharing news and informative content on social media is a great way to improve credibility by showing your knowledge. Social media takes this a step further by serving as a platform for your customers to reach out for post-purchase support.
If you are responsive to customer questions on social media, you will keep your existing customers happy, and be able to publicly display the care you give your customers to anyone who visits your social media pages.
Connor Lucey, SEO Specialist, Grasshopper.