Building business credibility with potential customers and clients who find you online is an important task. Your website needs to scream (or at least state clearly) that you are the company to meet their need, solve their problem, or otherwise earn their patronage. Even your current customers will appreciate the reassurances that a well thought out website and social media presence provides.
Start with your current satisfied customers
Social proof (aka testimonials, reviews, rave comments left on social media) goes a long way to build your small business’s credibility. If the customers who have already done business with you are gushing with praise, prospective customers can’t help but be impressed. Start asking your customers or clients for reviews and testimonials. Share the best of them directly on your website. If someone posts a complaint rather than a rave review, reach out to them within the same platform and ask how you can make things better. If the problem requires a more private conversation to resolve, don’t continue publicly but make sure people who see the complaint will also see that you were prompt about making the effort to improve.
Build a strong brand identity
Even while you’re expressing your unique style you still want to be perceived as professional. Take the time to develop a strong brand identity that connects your website to your social media to your email campaigns. Your customers should recognize your small business wherever they find it, not just on your website.
That said, make sure your website doesn’t let you down. Your site should look modern and professional, including the domain. Purchase a domain that clearly states who you are and/or what you do (you can have more than one). By all means, don’t make the mistake of using a domain that gives credit to the company hosting your site. You may choose to build a site on WordPress.com, Wix, or Squarespace but make sure you don’t leave their name in your domain. Make the investment to get “yourbusiness.com” rather than settling for “yourbusiness.wordpress.com.”
Let your personality shine through
Don’t hide who you are behind a veil of business lingo that your customers won’t relate to. For the small business owner, this is an opportunity to stand out from the crowd of corporate-owned shops that can’t bring the web browsing community right into the store with them. You can. Even a seriously professional office can step away from the ready-made template and expose a little of what sets them apart from their competition. Take advantage of the opportunity you have to make unique choices in your web design and online marketing strategy.
Blog, blog, blog
Don’t stop working on your website when it’s officially launched on the Internet. Create content for your site that reflects your knowledge of your industry. Just don’t be so technical that only your colleagues and peers are able to understand. Even if you don’t think your small business lends itself to good blog content, find a way to add a fresh take on what you’re doing. If you run a bakery, post some of your favorite recipes that you aren’t producing in your shop. There’s always something you can post about that will build your business credibility.
Get active on social media
Use your business social media accounts to engage with people. The more you interact with others the faster your trust and credibility will increase. Use the opportunity to be genuine and transparent. Online audiences know they have options, so use the time they give you to really connect with them. Answer their questions, without always pushing them to your website. Listen to your fans, followers, and prospects. Respond in a way that demonstrates how much you value them. Check-in on your accounts at least once a day so your responses are delivered in a timely manner.
Incorporate these techniques and tactics into your online marketing strategy and you’ll see your business credibility climb in the minds of your customers and clients. But don’t stop there. You also have to believe in yourself — that you are the person, and the business, that delivers on your promises and exceeds expectations. Your confidence is contagious. Your communication will ooze with the confidence that you’re the one who will get the job done.