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