In nearly every type of business, it is essential to position yourself as an authority. You are an expert on solving a specific problem for your customers and you are asking them to trust you with their time, attention and money. The first question any responsible customer should ask themselves is why should I listen to you?
How you answer this question as a business can take many shapes, but you must address this question head-on and proactively prove to your customers that you are worth listening to.
Before we dive into building your credibility portfolio, let's talk for a minute about why building your credibility is so important.
Consider this excerpt from Forbes.com:
"Political junkies love talking about the "power of incumbency," or the fact that current political office holders are more likely to win elections than their opponents are. They already have name recognition, a support base, campaign expertise and the power of inertia on their side. The same tends to be true in business. Incumbent businesses and products can be hard to unseat. Big companies tend to stay dominant, unless and until younger challengers get the better of them. But those competitors need to first establish credibility as a viable alternative."
In a nutshell, your level of credibility and authority are synonymous with your reputation. How much people know, like and trust your business will have a direct correlation to your bottom line.
As a way to get your wheels turning on this topic, I encourage you to consider your top 3 to 5 favorite brands -- the companies you are most loyal to buy from on a regular basis.
And ask yourself what makes you trust them? How did they earn your loyalty and respect?
For example, I am eternally loyal to a furniture company called Room and Board. The first time I purchased furniture from them nearly 10 years ago I was not only blown away by my customer service experience at the store but also by the quality of the product.
The first item I ever purchased from them was a very expensive couch. After owning the couch for several years I called them to complain about a small tear in the seam of the fabric. They told me that they couldn't repair my couch because they no longer carried that fabric. So instead, they sent me a whole new couch.
A whole new freaking couch! Wow! The quality of the product, mixed with incredible service that exceeded my expectations, makes them one of the most credible companies I have ever purchased from. I’m a loyal client for life.
So, how do you build credibility?
It starts with having a world-class product or service, industry-leading customer service and consistently delivering a client experience that your customers can count on. And it’s also an exercise in branding and marketing to ensure that you are consistently positioning yourself as a leader in your industry.
To achieve the later, every business needs what I call a credibility portfolio. Put simply, it is a collection of assets (words, images, and videos) that effectively build your credibility and authority.
While there are many items you could add to your credibility portfolio, I think that most business would benefit from starting with these five.
5 Strategies for Building Your Credibility + Authority
#1 - Highlight the education and credentials of you and your team.
This can be done on your website in the form of staff bios. This can be done in a slide deck during a sales presentation. This strategy can also be used anywhere clients are wanting to learn more about working with you.
If you are in an industry where higher education and certifications are important than this becomes a non-negotiable part of how you build credibility and authority.
#2 - Share testimonials from past and current clients.
The first thing to consider when it comes to testimonials is that you have to consistently ask for and collect them. Ideally, you are collecting video testimonials on a regular basis, and keeping a library of those videos you can pull from as needed to share stories from past or current clients. As they say, talking about yourself is bragging, but when your clients talk about you it is marketing.
#3 - Share client survey data about their experience working with you.
I will be the first to acknowledge that not everyone has this data. If you regularly survey your clients about their experience great, you might have data at your fingertips to make claims like "90% of our clients would recommend us to a friend" or "eight out of ten clients say that our product is the best they have ever used." If you do not regularly survey clients now is a great time to start.
#4 - Use statistics about your effectiveness at solving your client’s core problem.
This is another kind of data that is extremely useful when trying to build credibility. Your business exists to solve a specific problem for a specific group of people. As you get better and better at solving your clients' core problem, it will be best to share those success stories in the form of testimonials as well as aggregate data.
For example, a gym might claim that their average client loses 10 pounds within the first month of becoming a member. A business coach might claim that, on average, their clients increase their profit by 10% within the first six months of working together.
#5 - Define your voice.
Research shows that brands with a consistent voice are more likely to build trust with their audience. If it sounds like one person wrote all of the copy on your website but someone else wrote all of you emails, customers will recognize that and often will trust you less as a result. Consistency in our branding, particularly your writing, is key to building credibility and trust with our customers.
Given those five strategies, how will you build your credibility portfolio?
What additional assets might you need given your specific industry?
Take a few minutes right now to decide what your action steps are here -- write down your thoughts. Remember, the goal is to take stock of all the ways that you can establish your credibility as a business. You want to put all of that information in one place so that you can begin to use it on your website, your marketing materials and throughout your sales process.
I want to hear from you below.
How are you going to build your company’s credibility and authority?
And what can I do to help?
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