Just like Rome, great companies aren’t built in a day. It takes a lot of hard work to earn the trust of millions of people, but once that’s accomplished, things get easier. As the popularity of the brand grows, its hard-earned credibility will help it to outperform the competition and stay on top. That’s one of the reasons why startups find it hard to compete with big businesses, even when they have a superior product or service offering. People want proof that a company can deliver on its promises, but young startups tend to lack thousands of customer testimonials and years of reliable service to impress potential clients.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go for it and try anyway. Many founders have overcome these obstacles by realising that everything they do affects their credibility, and that good products and honest communication should go hand in hand. And from promptly replying to comments on social media to designing a kick-ass logo, they waste no opportunity to find ways to build trust and loyalty. After all, asking customers to give you their hard-earned money is no small thing, and they want to be sure that they’re making the right choice.
A solid company strategy and great products can go a long way
The researcher Rachel Botsman famously said that “The currency of the new economy is trust.” This illustrates the importance of reliability in the modern economy, and the fact that everything companies do affects their reputation. Knowing this is crucial when building a great company, and so is leading by example, as actions speak louder than words. Having a strategy to guide trust-building activities will help as well, and it goes without saying that honesty is an essential component in developing credibility and customer loyalty.
Of course, all of this won’t mean much if your company isn’t consistently offering quality products and impeccable customer service. People want the best value for money and they hardly ever compromise on that. As Jacob Drucker, the CEO of Supply Clinic, an online marketplace for dental and medical supplies, says, “A single defective product or memorably bad customer experience can be far more impactful than 100 amazing products and 1,000 customer interactions.” That’s simply human nature, and products that deliver on what the advertising campaign promised are critical to earning people’s trust.
Clear communication is essential in creating a trustworthy brand
Frequent communication with customers and employees is another crucial factor when it comes to creating a reputable brand. It enables you to share ideas about where the company is heading, gather feedback, and use this information to improve your product or service. It’s also important to communicate with customers in a professional manner and to show that your brand is accessible and reliable.
Social media, websites, and online reviews are increasingly important in winning the hearts and minds of customers. In fact, a study by the marketing analytics company Moz indicates that online reviews influence 67.7 per cent of people’s purchasing decisions. Writing blog posts, answering customer inquiries, and encouraging people to leave positive reviews are all great ways of building trust and creating a strong brand that people will recognise, respect, stay loyal to, and recommend.
Simple tricks for improving your reputation
These ‘battle-tested’ rules should help you grow your business, but there are some tricks that might even provide a ‘shortcut’ to credibility. You could boost your reputation in the short term by organising that your company is mentioned by a local newspaper, or by running a full-page ad in a magazine. But marketing consultant Patrick McFadden urges people to be creative and go even further: “When you get into the newspaper, make reprints of the article and frame them, include them on your website, in your social media, other marketing communication, highlight them in your email newsletter.” Essentially, promote every positive review further to reach as many people as possible.
But what about companies that aren’t mentioned in the media and don’t have customer testimonials? Drucker suggests that such businesses can establish their trustworthiness by filling their advisory board with industry-leading experts. His company, for example, brought Amazon’s ex-director to the team to show its expertise in e-commerce. And as for startups that are run from people’s homes, it might be worth considering using a virtual mailbox. It’ll provide you with a dedicated office space address where customers can send correspondence which is then forwarded to you. That way, your business will be presented in a more professional manner, reassuring customers that they can trust you.
Growing from a startup into a well-respected brand
It takes time for companies to build credibility, and achieving that is no small feat. Good products, honest communication, and consistent service are all factors people consider when deciding which brand to trust and where to spend their money. Startups that take on big corporations should be aware of these things, as the lure of well-known and reliable brands is hard to beat. Yet, many founders have overcome these obstacles and have created respected businesses that will one day face competition from startups that have just started to build their own reputation.