If potential customers can see that your trade business is trustworthy, they’ll be encouraged to try your products or services for themselves.
We look at some ways to build credibility in your business.
Become involved in your local community
You, your business partners, and your employees are the faces of your business. If potential customers in your local area get to know you all personally, they’ll begin to gain a positive impression of your business. Well known people (like celebrities) attract a certain amount of credibility.
For example, if you’re a builder, make it your business’s mission to become involved in your local community by:
- Attending events.
- Sponsoring sports competitions and having your branding visible.
- Supporting local charities and having you mentioned in their mailing lists.
Hire a stand at exhibitions and other events
Another way of gaining face-to-face contact with potential new customers is by hiring a stand at:
- Exhibitions and trade fairs.
- Markets or special occasions such as anniversary events.
- Any other events that your potential customers might attend.
Rather than just giving out brochures or business cards, engage with visitors to find out exactly what they’re looking for in a trade business like yours.
Meeting people at official events will increase your business’s credibility if you can trade off the event’s kudos. The insights that you gain could also help you improve your business and attract new customers.
Join a trade and professional association
Joining your trade or professional association is a way of increasing your business’s credibility.
Many potential customers will check that a business belongs to a trade or professional association before making a purchase. This is because trade associations usually have certain standards or codes of practice that their members agree to adhere to.
People will be more likely to believe that businesses that belong to an association are reputable organizations that will treat them fairly.
For example, a consumer who’s thinking of buying a car would be more likely to trust a dealer who’s a member of their national automobile dealers’ association and who subscribes to its code of ethics, than one that doesn’t.
Build a credible online presence
Building a credible presence online is important even if you have a bricks-and-mortar business because many people carry out online research before making a purchase.
Include as much concrete information about your business as possible on your website, including:
- Its physical address (not a PO Box) so customers know you have a location.
- At least one phone number and preferably a toll-free number.
- Your business registration number, if applicable.
- Membership of trade or professional organizations.
- Testimonials from satisfied customers (ideally well-known customers).
All of these will help customers believe that yours is a genuine, legitimate trade business. Potential customers might be wary of businesses that only provide email addresses.
Many potential customers will gain a first impression of your business from its website so ensure that it’s quick to load, easy to navigate, and free from errors.
Build relationships on social media
Find out which social media channels are used by people in your target market. If you haven’t already done so, establish a presence on these sites and use them to build relationships with current and potential customers.
There are many ways of doing this, including:
- Inviting feedback from current and past customers.
- Posting information that will be of interest to past, present, and prospective customers.
- Offering free samples or free versions of your products or services.
- Handing out discount coupons or other special offers.
Building up a loyal following by posting regularly on one or two sites will improve your business’s credibility much more than if you try to post on lots of different sites on an irregular basis.
Respond to online feedback
Regularly search the Internet for feedback and reviews about your business. Responding to all feedback will help to build trust in your business.
When you receive negative or neutral feedback, it’s very important to respond in a positive and helpful way so that potential customers gain respect for your business. If you’re argumentative or defensive, consumers will be led to believe that the comments were justified, and they’ll likely avoid your business in the future.
Exceed your customers’ expectations
If you go the extra mile for your current customers, they’ll appreciate it and will potentially tell their friends and family members about their experience with your business.
Such positive word-of-mouth advertising is much more likely to bring in new customers than an expensive yet impersonal advertising campaign.