Forrester reports that 70 percent of U.S. adults online trust recommendations for products from their friends and family. Another 46 percent trust consumer written reviews, and only 10 percent trust ads on websites. While advertising may be an important part of your company’s promotional plan, it may do little to improve credibility. Instead, focus on building your credibility to gain your audience’s trust and spread the word. From recruiting influencers to protecting client data, check out these four ways to strengthen your company’s reputation.
1. Recruit Influencers
Tapping key influencers in your industry can quickly build brand credibility. Connect with industry leaders, popular bloggers in your niche, and even celebrities to gather testimonials and promotional plugs. Find related influencers who are active on LinkedIn, YouTube, social media, and word-of-mouth. Demonstrate your relationship with influencers by inviting them to speak on your podcast or write a guest post, and through collaboration on projects.
Building an authentic relationship with your influencers can mean the difference of occasionally talking about your product and actively working as an advocate of your brand. Return the favor and help your influencers promote their own brands and services—this will only further demonstrate that you’re a connected force.
2. Give More than You Receive
Give your audience and customers a reason to believe in your brand by over-delivering on value. Offer free product samples and coupons, and organize Meetup groups and events for your VIP customers. Or consider giving away a free white paper or eBook that solves your customers’ problems. Offering outstanding customer service can also help boost your credibility.
Zappos is one company that over-delivers on service with free two-way shipping and stellar customer assistance. The company encourages its employees to take risks and think outside the box to help customers. Their goal is to give their employees guidance to develop their gut about making sound business decisions. This means they give their employees permission to make mistakes as long it’s a positive learning experience.
3. Keep Customer Info Safe
Data breaches and compromised customer information can destroy brand loyalty.
Target faced a terrifying data breach in 2013 and recently settled with MasterCard to pay $19 million. The company was criticized for not responding sooner as it was revealed they probably knew about the breach sooner than they told their customers.
Take action before a breach happens and ensure safeguards are in place to combat attacks. Inform the public about any potential breaches immediately before the rumor mill leaks. Take Target’s lead and offer to help with legal fees for customers affected.
4. Practice Thought Leadership
Avoid limiting communication with customers to only when you want to blast them with coupons and offers. Instead, show your audience that you’re a thought leader by sharing content from your industry, participating in social media, and answering questions on sharing sites like Quora.
Turn your company blog into an opportunity to connect with your customers by showing another side of your business. LifeLock’s Life Unlocked blog shows how its employees give back to their community and participate in volunteer opportunities. The identity theft prevention site also gives tips on how to keep your devices secure, and LifeLock’s reviews share insight into a positive customer experience.
Remember to step out from behind the veil of your office door or computer screen and attend events, conferences, and networking opportunities to show the public you’re a leader in your industry.