Have you ever wondered by some individuals and companies grow at such an increased pace? Other than pure discipline and a strong work habit, one of the biggest hacks for growing your company is the ability to create exposure and credibility. Having trust with your audience and being easily recognizable eliminates doubt in the mind of your buyer.
Building your online credibility will increase sales and make you much more valuable if you’re a company or individual that wants to dramatically grow.
You have a website, Instagram, LinkedIn page and blog. You might have even run a few very expensive ad campaigns, but nothing seems to stick. The traffic comes, but then it dies off quickly. What can you do? Why is this? Work on building up your online credibility.
What is online credibility?
According to its definition, credibility is “the quality of being believable or worthy of trust.” So what makes an online reputation credible? Your online reputation is more credible when people find things about you or your business that they believe to be legitimate. When people see legitimate or honest things, such as featured spots in publications they respect and awards, it positions you in a good light.
The status of your online credibility revolves in large part around what people find when they search your name. Try searching your name or your business’ name. What comes up? Then ask yourself, would you trust and make a purchase from another company with the same search results?
Building credibility to win more business
There are many ways to build online credibility, but most require work and time. A more efficient way to build trust with consumers is to reach out to them through outlets they already engage with. Get a spot on a well-known podcast, TV show or news channel. Consumers tend to trust people they see featured or presented on the major media outlets they already trust. When they see someone featured, they understand that this person must be doing something right to be presented on one of their favorite platforms.
But what if you don't have established relationships with journalists? This might seem impossible from the vantage point of the average person, but there are ways to access trusted media outlets in the absence of already being famous. Many companies or individuals do this through creating content on social media consistently, pitching themselves to writers at publications, and through networking with the right people.
With that said, there isn’t a complex formula to creating credibility and growing a brand, but it does take intentional effort. Even the most famous brands and people in the world — Google, Apple, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates — didn't have credibility at first. At one point nobody knew any of them. It took years of successes before they became household names.
You'll also notice that your favorite companies and entrepreneurs are unapologetically themselves. When I say this, I just mean that the folks with some of the best engagement and followings are the ones who do two things really well:
The businesses and individuals that let their actions "flex" for them and use the internet to share their personality are the ones who inspire us. They inspire us because we like to know that the folks who are seemingly successful are also real, relatable and go through the same daily life occurrences that we do. We connect with those that seem similar to us.
Clarity creates confidence
Having a powerful brand comes from clarity and defining who it is that you want to appeal to. The biggest businesses and entrepreneurs in the world also tend to have a message or an offer that resonates deeply with their audience. These companies have figured out exactly who they are marketing to and what that audience's pain points are.
Once you know who you need to help and what solution you can give them, then it’s a matter of consistently creating messages, products and services for them. The goal should be to connect with your audience on a friendship-like level while helping them fulfill their highest potential.
You might ask yourself, where do I start? To put it simply, the answers are:
When you do those things, you'll be well on your way to establishing true online credibility.
Image Credit: Getty Images
I have an annual year-end ritual: During the slow week between Christmas and New Year’s, I clean out my small business office and get organized for the new year. Those days are a great time to declutter and simplify your small business life. This year, it’s more important than ever because you’re probably working at home at least some of the time. And, c’mon, aren’t there a whole lot of things from 2021 you want to leave behind?
Getting organized can seem overwhelming, so let me break it down for you in three steps: “eliminate, automate, delegate.”
What’s cluttering up your life, your time, your desk? What are some things you’d be better off getting rid of? Here’s where you should start:
1. Stacks of stuff. Do you have stacks of paper on your desk, on your floor, on your kitchen counter? It’s time to get rid of them. Get a trash can, a scanner, a filing box, and a shredder. Now be ruthless. Toss or shred most things. Scan and digitize info you want/need to keep. For the very few things you really need to hold on to physically, file them.
2. Distractions. Do you check email all day long? Do you find yourself surfing the web, reading social media, playing spider solitaire in the middle of the day (my guilty pleasure)? Try using a focus app like LeechBlock or SelfControl.
3. Unprofitable and/or time-wasting lines of business or activities. The end of the year is a good time to evaluate which things are not really making you money. Look at this more closely when you do your annual plan in January (stay tuned!) but start analyzing where you really make money to see which things you can jettison.
4. Other activities. Just say “no.” The easiest way to keep something off your “to do” list is to not put it on there in the first place. Before you commit to anything, make sure it’s something you’ll value.
What are the processes you do every day, week, month or year? If you’re still doing them by hand or with an old software program, I’m betting you can use a faster, easier cloud-based app. Some cost a few bucks, but they save you many hours and headaches.
1. Paying bills. Set up autopay for virtually all your bills. Your credit rating will improve, and you’ll have a lot more time.
2. Sending invoices. Yes, you will still have to figure out how much to charge, but use an invoicing program like Freshbooks or Quickbooks to make things a whole lot easier.
3. Payroll. No excuses. Use a payroll processing service like Quickbooks Payroll, Sure Payroll or Gusto .
4. Social media. If you’ve decided that being on social media is actually worth it for your business, then use a calendaring program like Hootsuite or Buffer so you can set aside time for posting rather than being distracted throughout your work day.
5. Create templates. In most small businesses, there are things you send or use over and over, such as proposals, bids, customer service emails, inquiry responses. Don’t create these each time from scratch. Keep a file called “Templates” and save time.
Sure, you can do everything yourself and yes, much of the time, you’d do it better than anyone else. But do you really need to do all those things? Isn’t your time better used making money than on routine administrative tasks, filling orders, buying office supplies? Isn’t it time you got some help?
If you aren’t ready for full-time payroll employees, look for part-time workers or contractors. My first admin was a 10-hour-a-week/$10-an-hour person who worked at my kitchen table, and she changed my life. If you already have help, delegate more stuff.
Finally, there are other end-of-year things for you to think of doing, such as switching banks or administrative systems you’ve been thinking of changing. The turn of a calendar year is a perfect time, making it easier to separate information for record keeping.
Finally, use this slow period to spend time with friends and family. After all, they’re a big part of the reason you work so hard. Enjoy them and have a very happy holiday season.
Image Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Whether you like it or not, you are the beating heart of your business… are translating your DNA into a walking, talking corporate entity. But how does an owner remain consciously and productively engaged in that role — one that advances a personal identity professionally without becoming self-defeatingly egocentric?
It may seem new-age or “woo-woo” to traffic in this term, but to me, the key is in “alignment”. In considering this, I’m reminded of 1980s-era Wall Street types, pin-striped and screaming into grey plastic bricks, with Sun Tzu’s The Art of War poking out of their briefcases. What that (admittedly stereotypical) yuppy type communicates to me is someone trying to force it, who is possibly not in alignment with who they are or their foundational values. They might have thought that Gordon Gecko’s “Greed is good” mantra — backed by an aggressive, pushy attitude and washed down with Johnny Walker Blue — was all that was required, but with the benefit of hindsight, perhaps we can see the fallacies at work. It’s more than likely that these behaviors were coping mechanisms and faux bravado standing in for an actual set of values.
The point is that we can’t force our businesses to be anything that we ourselves are not — that it’s vital to do the work of first understanding who we are and who we’d like to be, then assess how a business will help get us there.
An often-overlooked reason for failure
According to Fundsquire, 20% of companies in the UK fail in their first year, and around 60% will go bust within their first three, with periodic lockdowns and other Covid-19 compliancy regulations only exacerbating the situation. The main reason for failure (42%) Fundsquire cited is “no market need for their services or product”. That cause might seem obvious, but what such a stat says to me is that there was a very good chance these owners were not personally aligned with their business and customers.
Whoever is reading this has probably met or knows somebody like this… who has doggedly pursued an entrepreneurial endeavor long beyond its “sell by” date, convinced that its idea/product is so ingenious and well conceived that a market for it will simply appear. It’s a tale as old as time. If this person had done the work of not only creating a brilliant product but also understanding who that product/business should be helping them to become, however, a different outcome could have been had.
A quick example: say a person creates a company devoted to making great wrenches — applies years of knowledge and experience to make one better than any other. If that’s the only guiding principal, fine, but what is it doing for their future dimensionally? If the wrench concept fuels both professional and personal growth, an owner will make better decisions in how to direct a company. This internal and dimensional approach to intention might also save years of struggle and debt if a business idea simply isn’t working. When you start from a place of wanting to grow yourself, and see your business as an extension of that, a lot of decisions will fall into place, including being motivated to find help and advice — the incentive to hire business development experts, even if just on a consultancy basis.
So, when people ask who your product or service is for, your answer should really be “me”. That’s not to say that you create something that only you want, but that this task is for you in the sense that it is part of your personal growth… not just in monetary terms (though that’s certainly a part of it), but as a whole.
Ask a vague question, get a vague answer
As with just about anything in life, if you’re not specific in what you’re asking for, you cannot expect a specific answer. If you’re at a restaurant and just ask for fish (but really want salmon en croute) what are the odds you’ll get what you want? The same is true of a business. Saying “I want to make the best wrenches and be rich” is not enough. Why do you want to make the best wrenches and be rich? Who will you be when you have achieved that, and why do you want to be that person? Your business can only support you if you are clear about this. If you simply think that the whole thing will take care of itself, without such clarity at its center, you’re mistaken.
How to maintain alignment
“This is all well and good”, you might be thinking, “but what are the pathways of achieving such clarity?” First and foremost, you need to listen to yourself. I make it a point to check in with myself on a routine basis throughout the day — clear the decks and get back in tune with my body and how I’m feeling. So much time is wasted on unproductive behavior because we are trying to force something that we’re really not aligned with, but a practice like meditation, yoga or guided visualizations enables us to get present, bring awareness to what our body is telling us, and be of maximum service. What this will do for your business is ensure that day-to-day operations are better monitored — will fuel clarity in decision-making and improve alignment with its overall vision/goal. That clarity will also enable you to clearly communicate with a team, giving them the focus that they need in order to deliver.
Being the heart of your business and recognizing that it’s there to help you grow is not about ego or selfishness, it’s about being an effective leader who can communicate articulately and instill confidence in every aspect of operations.
Become that person and the rest will fall into line.
At the time of writing, Elon Musk has 59.9 million Twitter followers while Tesla has 10.9 million. Social media reflects real-world sentiments. Musk, a social-media-savvy tech billionaire, is overwhelmingly more popular than Tesla. It demonstrates that the public is often more interested in the person behind the brand than the brand itself. Such a person can directly influence the success of the brand.
Why is this?
Long before social media up-ended traditional marketing, Zig Ziglar used to say, “People buy on emotion, and justify with logic.”
Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. This is a compelling statement! It’s straightforward and logical.
Elon Musk believes it. He’s sharing his message, and we’re listening.
As consumers, we’re going to take the word of someone that we know and trust. We’re going to act on the information of someone that we believe honestly has our best interests at heart.
What kind of person does a consumer connect with so that they’re motivated to act?
The face behind the brand is relevant
As consumers, we want to be relevant. Things change so quickly; we often rely on influencers to keep us up to speed. We’re prepared to take their word for it.
The internet is inundated with brands all vying for their customers’ attention. Keeping up with current industry trends can help our brand become more competitive. Building a versatile brand that meets the ever-changing needs of our consumers helps our brand stand out.
Humanizing a company through a single influential face is one way to do this. An influencer can more easily adapt to trends. This adaptability is a quality that companies need in a constantly evolving market.
The face behind the brand has experience with the product
The effectiveness of the face behind the brand concept is well-illustrated in Popsugar’s features of influencers like Christine Bullock, whose secret to success is competitor market research. She identifies what other brands offer and whether or not other businesses address the current needs of their consumers.
People will follow an influencer on social media, and they’ll see how a product is used in everyday life. Putting a face behind the brand gives the audience a relatable person to connect with. As they grow to appreciate this person, they increasingly engage with the brand and patronize the business.
The face behind the brand offers unique expertise
Thanks to Instagram and TikTok, it’s easier than ever for brands to have "faces" that the public can relate to. Businesses can utilize this common feature by posting videos featuring a face that represents their brand. And, in turn, our brand gets the attention it needs through social-media platforms.
One great example of this is Gary Vee. He took advantage of TikTok while it was still a rapidly growing platform and worked his way through the competitive influencer world of Instagram.
He essentially gave authoritative advice during these financially challenging times, growing his Instagram and TikTok following to 9.2 million and 8.9 million, respectively. He built an online reputation with insightful posts and a kind demeanor, all the while giving exposure to his "Vee" brand.
By taking advantage of these free social-media platforms and simply being himself, Vee became a relatable face behind his brand.
The face behind the brand is recognizable
It can be difficult for many to relate to a faceless brand. Adding a human face, someone consumers will recognize and associate with our company, to any branding campaign is an effective way to make our audience resonate with our business.
Consumers prefer engaging with another person instead of a completely abstract entity. They will be loyal to someone that’s accessible, relatable and inspirational.
A person is easier to remember than a logo. When a consumer recognizes the face behind the brand, he or she will connect the message to the product.
The face behind the brand is responsible
With the ubiquitous internet, we’re overwhelmed with information. We’re aware that our lifestyle choices can have an impact, for better or for worse, that extends beyond our personal bubble. We factor sustainability into our purchasing decisions, and we need reassurance that our decisions are consistent with our social values.
A person that has established a relationship with a consumer through a targeted branding campaign is going to communicate this message effectively and compassionately.
The face behind your brand is how people build a relationship with you
We may not ever be a billionaire like Elon Musk, but we can drive a car like his. Tesla drivers may be logical and well-informed, but their Tesla makes them happy. They’re connecting to a new Tesla community and believe that they’re making the world a better place in the process.
Nobody wants to be just a number. Our customers want to be heard, understood and recognized as individuals. They crave emotional connection. And, as obvious as it sounds, people connect with people.
Ultimately, this is why we need a face behind our brand.
Membership is open to businesses and organizations interested in increasing visibility and brand awareness in Westchester County and surrounding areas.