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How Trust Can Take Your Small Business to a New Level

establishing trust in your small businessWould you buy something from someone you didn’t trust?

A recent survey from about.com revealed that 84% of consumers wouldn’t even interact with a company – let alone buy from them – unless they had proved themselves trustworthy.

So why is trust such an issue?

Because the biggest, ugliest barrier that prevents people from committing to a product or service is fear.

And the only way to kill fear is with trust. Without trust, all those potential clients you have worked so hard to attract to your site will just come, look… and then leave.  They won’t buy into your business, and worse than that, they won’t tell anybody else how great your company is, which means you’re missing out on incredibly valuable referrals. Your competitors will get their business and you will be left out in the cold wondering what you did wrong.

That’s how trust works.

If you can gain someone’s trust, they will not only buy whatever you are selling, they will also spread the word about your company (effectively doing your marketing for you).  AND they are much more likely to buy from you again – giving you repeat sales without having to spend energy and resources on generating new leads.

Trust is KEY to your online success.

That’s all very well I hear you say, but trust is a notoriously difficult thing to win – especially in these cynical times – so how do you go about getting people to put their trust in you?

Put yourself in their shoes. Just like everyone else, you are a consumer too – so what do you do when you are looking to buy a particular product or service online? My bet is that your first step is either to turn to a company you are already familiar with for a solution, or you conduct some fairly hefty online research.

So what are people going to find when they find YOUR business? Let’s take a look at what you need to provide these wary consumers with to reassure them and secure some very loyal customers in the process:

Great Website

This is your platform where you show the world who you are and what you can do – so you’ve got to be sure you are giving the best impression possible and creating a web environment that will encourage people to stay – not scare them away.

An uncluttered, simple design makes it easy for visitors to see all the information they need, instantly. Confusion will mean visitors give up and go home, so you must make your site easily navigable so they can find what exactly what they are looking for and guide them to where you want them to go – give them a clear, obvious call to action. Keep things slick and professional.

Content is crucial. Use simple language, correct spelling and grammar, and avoid jargon. Be informative and give your visitors some high quality content that is actually of value. Nip any anxieties they may have in the bud by dealing with them openly in a Q&A or similar to give them the reassurance they need. If in doubt, hire the services of a copywriting professional to write your content for you – it will be worth it. Keep your content regularly updated, as out of date content will give the impression you are dull and lazy. Use high-quality images and logos throughout unless you want to look like a cheap and unprofessional outfit.

Identity

Show them that you are a real person behind a real business and that you can be contacted in the real world any time. Have multiple contact methods including your business name, address, contact numbers and social media links prominently displayed somewhere on your website and make it clear that you welcome queries. Encourage people to get in touch.

Humanize your company by adding fun images of you, your employees and your workplace to your ‘about’ page. Images have a high engagement level, so choose the most interesting ones that will convey your company image most effectively to create an identity people can relate. Use this section wisely to subtly reveal your company values, skills and experience. Share your achievements, awards and received recognition. Tell your story and you will inspire confidence.

Reputation

Word of mouth is a best seller – nothing gives you more credibility. Include client testimonials on your site – make them stand out so they get noticed. Wherever possible, put photos alongside them so prospects can see that your testimonials are coming from real people, and they aren’t just fictitious. Scatter them throughout your website as well as including a separate section if you can.

Encourage people to spread the word about you by including social sharing buttons on your site. Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest mentions by people your prospects relate to are amazingly strong endorsements.

Customer reviews are also extremely powerful. Allow your clients to review your products and make the results readily available on your site. Professional reviews by a respected third party are incredibly influential, so include these wherever possible, preferably with a short summary which links to the full review on the third party website.

Don’t be afraid to throw in the odd negative review either – people aren’t stupid, and 100% glowing reviews will make them suspicious and you will lose their trust.

Customer Service

Offer excellent customer service and a prompt and valuable customer support service. Ensure that clients know they have a strong safety net in the unlikely event there are any issues. Resolve issues as quickly as possible and with good grace – it will all help build your reputation.  Clearly state that you offer a full refund should your product or service fail to deliver your promise – it shows you have faith in your product, and if you believe in it, why shouldn’t they?

Honesty

Honesty is the bottom line. It is the most important trait you must demonstrate to your prospects. Don’t make promises or give guarantees if there is any chance – even a small one – that you won’t be able to stick to them. Be reliable. Do exactly what you say you are going to do exactly when you say you are going to do it. Be true to yourself and your core company values and always follow through.  It will prove your trustworthiness and build your reputation as a company that can be counted on.

Ultimately, everything you do influences the level of trust you develop with your customers and prospects – so maintain awareness at all times. Putting in the effort and resources to get it right every step of the way will reap HUGE dividends.

Trust me.

Today’s Guest Post on Start Your Own Small Biz was provided by James T. Noble. James makes small businesses bigger. He’s worked with some of the world’s largest brands and companies to market their products and services online – including Disney, Microsoft, 20th Century Fox, Virgin, Coca Cola, MTV and many others. Find out more and read business growth tips at http://www.JamesTNoble.com

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