One of the hardest, scariest, things about launching your own business is getting people to notice you – and gaining a positive response when they do. You’re already in competition with others in your market, no matter how niche or broad your offering, so it’s tempting to do anything and everything to raise brand awareness and become known.
People care less about how big a company is than how much they can trust it. Trust breeds loyalty, and loyalty breeds reputation, which generates word-of-mouth referrals, which brings in new business, which means more customers who are loyal, who then recommend you to their friends…
You see where we’re going with this.
So it’s not always about what you do or say, it’s HOW you do it and say it. Here are three leading ways to make people trust your new startup – even if you have no customer testimonials yet, this is your way to get them…
Have An Honest Brand
Your brand ethics are very important. Whether you only use local suppliers, or print your postcards using only an FSC certified manufacturer, it’s these seemingly little things that stand out.
You are showing commitment to your company, to the environment, and to sustainability. All of these are important to communicate, especially when trying to persuade customers to try you for the first time.
Your business story is what sets you apart from the competition. No one has the background that you do. Make the most of this unique opportunity, and make your startup story part of your branding narrative.
If you’re not where you want to be yet, say so! (People like ambition). If you can’t meet a client’s demands, say so! (People love honesty). As long as you give a solution, such as your business growth strategy, or suggesting an additional partner to bring on-board for a specialist project, your customers will feel valued, and like they can trust you.
People want the truth about who they are buying from: when customers found out that Innocent Drinks are actually part of Coca-Cola, they felt misled. What seemed like a friendly company is actually part of a global conglomerate: suddenly, they feel devalued as a customer, no longer an individual. However, a mission statement released by the owners of Innocent, way back when Coca-Cola only had a minority stake in the business, gave clarity – trust was restored and the company continued to grow. They had shown their intentions, acted on some of them (by getting Coca-Cola on-board), and had a plan for the future.
Show, Don’t Tell
Your business story is what sets you apart from the competition. Be the face of your brand, or if that doesn’t appeal, find someone in the startup who will be. Use digital media such as social platforms to show what it’s like to work in your office: do you do on-site product testing? Do you travel the country to meet customers? Do you have Friday Funday competitions?
Whatever sets you apart, bring this into your visual. Show people your business with visual media: regular posts on Instagram or Facebook, or print posters to put up on your trade event stand. However you do it, make sure you show that you’re living your values.
Communicate With Conversation, Not By Broadcasting
Advertising is no longer about what your products do, it’s about what you can do to solve other people’s problems.
When creating your brand, and marketing your new products, remember that old-school advertising doesn’t work anymore. Instead, you need to build trust by engaging in your local, national, and online communities. Get stuck in with conversations, demonstrate thought leadership on LinkedIn or subject-specific forums, do whatever it takes to show people that you are interested in helping them, instead of selling to them.
Customers trust brands that open a dialogue with them: if there are a multitude of ways to get in touch (web form, email address, phone number, Facebook page, Twitter DMs…) then customers will tell you what they think.
Whether your feedback is good or bad, take it all in. Ask customers WHY they felt a service was poor, or what you could have done to improve. Once you’ve listened, show them that you’re taking action to improve and you’ll be able to turn up your loyalty rate even for those who may have complained in the past. People like those who can admit to their mistakes, and find a way to improve.
Who Do You Trust?
Trust is your biggest ally when it comes to competing with the high street names or major conglomerates. If you’re still not sure how to build trust, take a look at brands that inspire you. These could be from your business sector, or companies that you deal with personally.
Look at how they communicate with people: what’s their story? How do they get involved? Try to discern what it is about the way your favourite companies operate, and use this as your first building block for brand trust.