In any small business, credibility is king.
While this statement is certainly nothing new, the mediums by which your potential customers perceive this credibility have changed. The transition from the bulky yellow books of yesterday to the mobile devices of today has altered the path to establish small business credibility.
How Credibility is Determined
The process of how and when credibility is determined for most small businesses takes place in these three steps.
- Initial Discovery – What is a customer’s initial reaction to your website, or even how is your company displayed after an organic search? An appropriate use of rich snippets, or how your listings appear in the search engines, (more on that here) is an incredibly effective way to establish credibility upon the initial discovery. Having up to date and consistent listings among local business directories is important, as they are often a source of initial business discovery.
- Further Assessment – After a prospect discovers your business, are they satisfied by your star rating and give you a call or head to your store front? Most likely, some degree of evaluation takes place initially, but then they dig a little deeper. The important thing to understand in this stage is what kind of assurances your audience will be looking for, and where they may be most likely to find it.
- Continued Efforts – While you may win some customers over with your awesome five star rating and positive reviews on Google, gaining and maintaining credibility is not a one-time task. With many variables in play, credibility can come and go rather swiftly, so continual monitoring and maintenance is key.
Tools Used to Establish Small Business Credibility
Typically, business credibility (or lack thereof) can be easy to spot, but difficult to produce. Some of the avenues customers are now using to try and figure out if a certain company is credible or not are listed below. Leveraging a few of these mediums appropriately can quickly establish small business credibility.
Reviews – At Cazbah, we’ve recently seen clients have success and increased sales for products that had customer reviews. For general company reviews, consider making customers aware of Google My Business reviews. The easiest way to find this is to have customers search for your business name, and click the “Write a Review” button on the Knowledge Graph (see image –>).
Testimonials – Incorporating customer testimonials into your website can be a great way to instantly gain some credibility. Of course, you’ll want to gather testimonials from customers that have the most name recognition, and industry credibility of their own.
Social Media – Be sociable! This medium gives you the chance to show your potential customers that there are real, genuine people behind the face of your company. Social media can also be a place where more reviews can be accumulated.
Case Studies – Being able to share more specific and in depth information about a successful sale in a case study can be a great way to become more credible (not to mention more respected) in your industry.
Blog Posts – Your industry knowledge + blog posts = credibility. Sharing your knowledge on other industry blogs is another great way to gain credibility.
About Us Page – In order to establish small business credibility, a strong “About Us” page is a must. Be sure to have a picture of your business so people know it is legit. Also include years in business, awards, and a picture of your company’s employees if appropriate.
While you may be wary of negative feedback, (especially in Social Media, product reviews, blog post comment sections) don’t let that stop you from getting out there. Every company receives a negative response at some point, but oftentimes a thoughtful response to the negativity can greatly increase credibility. Check out this link for Google’s advice on how to handle negative reviews.
Like all marketing efforts, the exact process of how to establish small business credibility is specific to your industry. Be sure to speak to your Cazbah Internet Marketing Consultant to craft a plan that utilizes the most appropriate channels.