To have any hope in business, you need to be seen as credible – by your investors, colleagues, competitors and, most importantly, by existing and potential customers. Here are some tips to prove your business bona fides.
Proving your credibility is essential because, quite simply, a potential customer wants to know that you know what you’re doing and the product or service they are about to purchase is worth their hard-earned cash.
Internet marketers have been using proof-of-credibility since the start of the dot-com bonanza. They use success stories from previous sales campaigns to persuade masses of people that their product has been proven to work.
There are plenty of ways to demonstrate your credibility and the worthiness of your product or service. Your main objective is to prove that your product/service/system has been used successfully; that it is “tried and true”.
Another persuasive way to demonstrate the success of your offering is through testimonials from customers. These people could have been end users of a great product, proud recipients of a service or replicators of your successful system. Testimonials are compelling because people “just like you” have bought the product or service and now they are so happy with the benefits that they are willing to talk about it and recommend it to anyone, endorsing the product.
Case studies are like in-depth testimonials. These interviews with a good customer cover benefits, initial objections and how they were overcome, and generally a bit of hype about it to portray the positive impact on the customer.
Case studies and testimonials are very important but sometimes they are hard to get. Try a few ways to extract them from your customers – phone, email, letter, etc. If you’re really struggling, pick out a few of your best customers and write a testimonial from them. Yes, write it yourself, as if it is coming from that customer, then send it to them and ask if they are happy for you to put their name on it and use it as a testimonial on your website or other advertising material. Of course, you should never use it without their permission. Case studies and testimonials are like a virtual version of word-of-mouth advertising.
Photos of people who give you case studies and testimonials are a great way of adding visual persuasion to their text. You can also prove the worthiness of your product or service by showing photos of people using your products or photos of results from using your service. Even better than that are photos of well-known people or companies who are benefiting from your offering. This invites the feeling of a connection to your product through someone the potential customer knows or knows-of. They think, ‘If that guy is using it, it must be good.’
Take the visual aid a bit further by showing video or audio of your customers using your products or services, or interviews with your customers. It’s a bit harder to get these but they are proven to attract much more general interest in your offering.
Tell, don’t sell
Stating the age of the business is often mistakenly thought to be a very good way to prove credibility. Even though it proves you must have done something right because of how long you’ve been around, it’s not a very persuasive argument (in the eyes of the customer). Having said this, it can still be a very good point to include in your advertising and it will work better for some industries than others.
Try connecting your years of establishment to the perfection of your products and services, reliability or fantastic customer service.
You could also connect your years of establishment to your own guru status – explaining how you’ve been through tough times, thick and thin, seen all of the issues and busted down the barriers of any customer dissatisfaction. You learn from your experiences and have constantly upgraded your customer service or your knowledge to give the customers the best experience that only someone of your stature could achieve.
Don’t get caught up with boasting that you’re the best salesperson. There’s a local television ad running now where the owner states that the company has been the best dealer and sold the most amount of those products for X number of years in a row. This immediately put me off buying a product from them because they are boasting about being the best salespeople. This is because the first thing that comes to mind is being harassed by some pushy sales person so they can get their commission. It says it’s all about them and you are just there to supply their sales commission.
All of the above is easily done if you have a history. But what if you’re a brand new start-up business and you don’t have any history to reflect on? Try getting testimonials about you from ex-coworkers, employers, UNI or TAFE lecturers or anyone else who knows that you’re good at what you do.
If your product doesn’t take too much out of your own pocket, give out test-drives or give the product away to a few local people to try out. In return you can ask for testimonials or even full-blown case studies.
It’s amazing what some positive market traction can deliver.
Paul Groth is a marketing strategist, entrepreneur and founder of www.marketingmixer.com.au