Whether you have a brick-and-mortar retail business, a virtual consultancy, or something in between, all businesses need to display honesty and credibility in order to gain the trust of customers. Brand trust is required in order to make sales.
Credibility is much like respect; it has to be earned. It takes time to lay the foundation for trust, and consistency to grow it into a solid reputation based on credibility. Here are some ways to build the credibility of your small business.
1. Refine Your Communication Skills
Communication is the basis of establishing credibility. This means you need to make sure you are effectively communicating the vision of your business, getting your audience to understand what sets you apart from the competition, and carrying your brand messaging -- both your personal brand and your business brand -- through each of your marketing activities.
In addition, credibility is built through effective everyday communication with your employees. This is accomplished by being an excellent listener and keeping the lines of communication open with those on your team.
2. Practice What You Preach
"Do as I say, not as I do," doesn't work when it comes to credibility. You can't establish yourself as a credible leader if you're not willing to walk the talk. Instead of just saying the words that make people think of you as trustworthy, make it common practice to actually run your business that way.
It should go without saying that in order to build your credibility as a small business owner you must be honest across the board. Keeping all of your communication with customers, vendors, and employees genuine and honest will help you establish your trustworthiness as a business owner.
3. Maintain Objectivity
What is the value proposition of your business? Sometimes what we, as business owners, see as the value our products and services offer is not really what our target audience values most. Reach out to your team or advisors on a regular basis to make sure you are staying objective and being honest with yourself about what your business brings to the table.
It also helps to remain objective about the breadth of your expertise. Even if you are an expert in your field, you still have opportunities for growth. Admitting that there are things you don't know, and expressing that you are willing to work at finding the answers, can give you added credibility as someone dedicated to growth and development.
4. Involve Your Audience
You don't run your business in a bubble without any outside interaction, so you can't build credibility entirely on your own either. Ask your customers for feedback, collect and share testimonials and use the feedback you receive to improve your business.
You can also involve your audience and boost credibility by sharing your expertise to help others. One easy way to do this is through social media. Sharing content, answering questions, and engaging your audience on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook can help establish you as a credible expert in your field.
Today, a large part of small business credibility is built -- or destroyed -- online through the company's Internet presence, online reviews submitted by customers, and social media. This means you need to be consistent in building your brand credibility both online and off. Once you can establish your brand as credible and trustworthy, you are on your way.