- Share your results: Clients want to see that you know what you’re doing. No amount of advertising, tweeting, or direct mail can impact potential customers the way a client testimonial can. That’s because it’s often not what you say about your business that matters; it’s what others say about you. After all, we’re living in a time when we check user reviews before picking a restaurant or buying a lipstick. This persuasion phenomenon is called social proof and you need to put it to your advantage through testimonials, case studies, and references from happy customers.
This isn’t the time to be bashful: ask satisfied customers to provide a quote or two on their experience—and then feature these testimonials prominently on your website. Or, if it’s relevant to your business, set up a profile on a third-party review site like TrustLink and ask for reviews there.
- Create a strong social first impression: These days, prospective clients can access a wealth of information about you in seconds. What impressions are your social media profiles on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn giving? Are they working for you or against you? At least once a quarter perform a social media audit where you make sure that every profile is up to date and reflects your best side.
- Don’t forget your “team”: You may not have any employees, but you’re hardly flying solo. You probably have a strong network of people surrounding you such as colleagues, other contractors, mentors, and friends. Sure, your team may be more informal than a big company, but you can still rely on their expertise and skills. Make sure prospective clients know that you’ve got a great ecosystem of experts behind you.
- Share your expertise: Publishing guest articles or blog posts is a great way to share what you know and increase your status in your field. Think about wherever your prospective customers might be (e.g., trade magazines, newsletters, blogs), and then look for guest writing opportunities there. Of course, keep in mind that the point of a guest post is not to market your services or talk about yourself; rather, it’s to provide helpful, useful content that your audience would want to read.
- Get with a formal business structure: A formal business structure, such as an LLC or Corporation, can go a long way to raising your business’ credibility. Don’t think you’re too small: even a solo business can be an LLC or an Inc. These formal business structures also have the added benefit of separating your personal and business finances, so your personal savings and assets are safe if anything happens with your business.
- Be genuine about who you are: Chances are your prospective customers appreciate the fact that they’re working with a small business, and not a representative from a big corporation that may not see them as a priority. Customers are more likely to respect you if you present who you truly are. The moment you try to be more than who you are, all credibility will fly out the window.
You may not have a big office or employees, but you’re at the top of your game. You go above and beyond to impress your customers, and you’ve never let a single one down. So how come you feel pressured to convince customers that your solo business is just as reliable as larger competitors?
Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to up your credibility and status in your field:
Instead of trying to be like the “big guys,” focus on doing what you do best: work hard, care about your clients, and deliver the very best product or service you can. When you talk with customers, avoid marketing jargon and anything that sounds too much like a sales pitch. Be yourself—and combined with some of the tips above, you’ll have the credibility your small business deserves in no time.
This was originally written by Nellie Akalp for BlogHer