24 Nov How to Establish Credibility in Your Marketplace
By Paul Barrs.
There’s a challenge that we all must face as business owners, and that is to establish credibility in the eyes of our customers. Over the years this task has become increasingly difficult, and even more so for the small business owner as the giants of business seemingly overwhelms the airwaves with their almost unlimited advertising dollar.
What can we do?
We take them on at their own game, but put aside the old rules with which so many of them still play. We don’t compete against them in the ‘traditional’ marketplaces, but rather the emerging marketplaces. We go directly to the people; our customers and their customers.
We go to the Internet.
And how wonderful it is that things have changed. Ten years ago, even competing for customer loyalty online was constrained by budget, and big business still held the upper-hand with technology and turn-key advertising opportunities. Now however, with the evolution of social media marketing, consumers are no longer moved by the trends set by big business; instead, it is the customer who ‘sets the standards’ – and we are asked to follow.
Welcome to the world of Web 2.0.
And it is here that we discover how to establish credibility in our marketplace!
Let’s break down a simple sample…
Imagine that you run a small stationary printing service in Noosa, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast (my home town). You’re one of about half a dozen printers in the Noosa region. So not only do you have your local business competition to deal with, but you also have the big business national chains to stand up to (of which there are another half dozen on the Sunshine Coast within 30 mins drive) and then there are also the online printing services – no further away than the touch of a button. What can you do?
First things first, you must establish your credibility firmly with your existing customers – no point in losing them to some other guy or girl down the street. You can easily do this by updating their details in the company database so that you can now keep in touch with them by eMail. Of course, some of them are business clients, some are private, so you sub-list your “list” in order to only send appropriate messages. i.e. business customers might receive a fortnightly ‘business tips’ newsletter, whereas your private customers only get birthday / anniversary / Christmas messages and so on for follow up.
Secondly, you set yourself up to do the same thing with incoming clients – more so, you use similar eMail marketing strategies to keep in touch with your *prospective* customers as well.
Once you’re ‘in touch’ with them, then you can build credibility.
1. My best idea always comes up front first, just as yours should – give them access to some “Special Report” which shows them what the most common pitfalls are when designing and planning a new print marketing campaign or strategy; things such as sales copy, colours, fonts etc. Then of course, show them how your business can AND WILL solve that problem for them.
2. My second best idea always comes second; I don’t hold anything back – and neither should you. Over coming weeks and months you should send to them Authority Articles about your industry and how you frequently help your clients both save money and make money in their businesses (or save time and save money for private customers). Set the standard to establish yourself as an authority in your industry in your local business marketplace.
3. My third best idea always comes next – and so should yours! Get a professional copywriter to write your product / service guarantee – or at least study at minimum 100 other company / product guarantees before you decide on yours – and put it in their face. What one key factor does big business always seem to share in, in the area of product guarantee? Product Return or Exchange or Refund… no questions asked. How does your guarantee compare? Do your existing customers even know about your guarantee?
I got some printing done here on the Sunshine Coast recently, and only once did *anyone* tell me about their guarantee. He also told me about his service and he showed me his customer testimonials (idea # 4) – and his price was twice as much as some others. But did I care? No. He established himself with him credibility in the eyes of this customer.
And that made all the difference.