August 23, 2014

Building Trust: 5 Tips to Establish Your Credibility for Business

build credibility

In the age of the trust economy, credibility has become everything. That includes your personal credibility, the credibility of your brand, your business, your products and services and of everything else you do.

Huge advertising budgets and PR campaigns are not a substitute for credibility. That’s good news for the small business owner who now has a more level playing field when it comes to getting their message out. But it also means spending more time establishing and maintaining your credibility because your business depends upon it.

Establish Trust; Build Credibility in the Online World

Establish Credibility on Your Website

Think of your website as a kind of online handshake. It’s a way people instantly assess you and your business. Many people will get their first and most lasting impression of your business from what they find there.

This isn’t necessarily about your website’s design or responsiveness (though those things certainly are important.) It’s about the kind of message your website sends about you and your business.

The Stanford Web Credibility Research project at Stanford’s Persuasive Technology Lab has created these 10 guidelines for establishing credibility with your website. They include listing third-party certifications and associations, showing that there’s a real organization behind the website, making your website easy to use, allowing people to contact you easily and more.

Establish Credibility in Your Product

Don’t strain your credibility by being willing to sell just anything. The products and services you sell should be those you are willing to put your name and face behind.

In fact, in a video presentation, author, hedge-fund manager and entrepreneur James Altucher talks about the most important thing you as an entrepreneur must learn how to sell, yourself.

Consider selling “freemium” versions of your product to demonstrate the quality to your customers. They can buy enhanced versions of your products and services, if they like what you are offering for free.

Establish Credibility in Your Brand

The most important quality you will need to establish credibility in your personal brand is consistency, writes Celine Roque at Gigaom.

This means making sure that every time you are visible on social media or elsewhere, potential clients and customers see you being exactly what they expect you to be.

This can be a lot of hard work, as it turns out. And that’s not because of the effort to avoid projecting the wrong image.

Much of your time and effort will be spent trying to project the right one. This can include posting consistently on your blog, maintaining a very visible social media presence, possibly writing books, accepting speaking engagements, speaking at conferences and keeping up an aggressive guest blogging schedule. You must do all of this to send a clear message about who you are and what you stand for.

It’s a necessary part of maintaining credibility in your personal brand.

Establishing Credibility in Your Reputation

Another reason to avoid selling just anything in your business is that the Internet has made the world transparent. Making the mistake of backing anything even remotely questionable can have a dire impact upon your reputation. It’s critical to maintain a good reputation or your business will suffer.

Resources that publicly expose questionable products and services are everywhere.

So don’t get your business anywhere close to any of these.

Establish Credibility in Your Social Media Efforts

We’ve touched upon this above, but several things go into establishing credibility in your social media efforts. To begin with, it’s helpful to start with an audacious plan of action to improve your social media presence.

Start with a commitment to take time to build your network, try to make a difference, shine a light on others and work harder on having real conversations.

You’ll be surprised how much these simple efforts will improve your social media presence in the long run and your brand’s credibility too.

Trust Photo via Shutterstock

10 Comments ▼

Shawn Hessinger - Editor


Shawn Hessinger Shawn Hessinger is the Editor for Small Business Trends. He is a journalist and social media networker with more than a decade of experience in the traditional newspaper business before moving to the digital world. He was the former community manager of BizSugar and the former community editor at AllAnalytics, a site dedicated to professionals in the business intelligence and analytics community.

10 Reactions

  1. Ultimately of course clients or customers will judge you by what you do rather than what you say.

    Many times during the course of a year we will answer an enquiry for a potential new client who has contacted us through our website, only for them to comment that “I put my query out to 3 accountants and you were the only one who replied”.

    Hopefully, by actually doing what we said we would do we have started to build trust.

  2. You don’t really need to “establish” credibility. I think it comes naturally as long as you provide quality products and services and you treat your customers and employees well. In the end, it is all about doing the right thing instead of making it seem that you are doing the right thing. You really cannot fool anybody.

  3. Engaging with real customers on social media pages also builds trust and credibility in your business. It’s all about transparency and accessibility.

  4. To begin with, it’s helpful to start with an audacious plan of action to improve your social media presence and credibility. With these put in place, then your business may grow further and prosper.

  5. Shawn: Have you heard about the V-C-P process by Dr. Ivan Misner? You could also call it “know, like, and trust” process.

  6. These are all no-brainers but I find it amazing how some will let some of these go unaddressed. Your credibility and reputation is what drives your business. In many ways, it’s just as important as what you do and how well you do it.

  7. Expanding on the point about “the most important thing you as an entrepreneur must learn how to sell, yourself.” I would say that it is equally important to know and understand who you are selling to. It is easiest to sell to people who are similar to you. You have to step back and think harder if you are selling to people you don’t have anything in common with.

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