How to Increase Your Brand’s Credibility

brand credibility

Building trust with your consumers is essential for success in business. Trust leads to repeat business and loyal customers, along with increased sales and brand awareness. That trust, however, takes time, hard work, and consistency to earn.

It is important that business owners educate themselves on how to establish and maintain trust from their customers and community. Here are a few strategic tips that will lead to a strong, positive brand reputation.

1. Deliver Consistent Levels of Service

Customers feel comforted when they know what to expect from a business. In order to provide that to your consumers, every part of your brand should be consistent. This means your employees’ practices, answers, and service need to be in line with your brand. If your promise to your customers is that your customer service department will respond to inquiries within 24 hours, your employees must deliver on those expectations.

Amazon does a great job with this. It has been ranked as one of the top online retailers for good reason. If you need quick service and hit the “Call Me Now” button, an Amazon employee will virtually call you immediately using the information you provided. Customers expect a quick, efficient callback when shopping on Amazon.com.

2. Be Honest

Honesty really is the best policy especially when it comes to business. It is extremely important that your consumers feel a high level of honesty when buying your products or enlisting your services. They need to know that the security of their personal information is of utmost importance, and your business is taking the proper steps to avoid a security breach. If your customers’ information does fall in the wrong hands, notify them immediately. If they find out about it in another way, your reputation will be tarnished, and it will be extremely difficult to earn it back.

One company that failed terribly at being honest after a security breach is the very popular cosmetic company, Lime Crime. They went through a security breach where their customers’ financial information was compromised. Instead of being open and honest about the situation and alerting their customers so they could cancel credit cards and alert their banks, Lime Crime continued with business as usual. Many consumers lost thousands of dollars, and the CEO waited months before coming clean.

3. Act Immediately

If there has been a security breach that puts your consumers’ personal and financial information at risk, honest and immediate action will let your customers know that you are on top of the issue and doing everything possible to ensure a quick resolution.

A company that exemplified fast action was Barnes & Noble. In September of 2012, the bookseller giant had their credit card pin pad hacked and it was suspected that 63 of their stores were affected. Barnes & Noble contacted the Department of Justice for assistance and guidance, contacted credit card companies to alert them of possible unauthorized charges, and soon after, under the guidance of the Department of Justice, alerted their customers of the breach. The bookstore also removed 7,000 pin pads to prevent the problem from continuing. By acting quickly and seeking professional assistance, the retailer was able to maintain the trust of their customers and save other customers from theft.

In the unfortunate event that you do experience a security breach at your business, know that you and your customers are in good hands by enlisting the services of LifeLock. Visit its business reviews to see if its services are right for you.


Susan Finch is a freelance writer with a passion for travel and helping small businesses find their online voice through content marketing, blogging and beyond. She can be found at BySusanFinch.com.

The Importance of Consistently

by Lori Saitz

According to Dictionary.com, the definition of the adverb “consistently” is “in a systematic or consistent (reliable, steady) manner.” No matter what you’re doing, doing it consistently is the key to success. Now that I just wrote that, let me add the caveat that whatever you’re doing also needs to be in harmony with the universal concepts of good. I’m thinking someone who consistently robs banks will eventually get caught and therefore not be successful. But I digress.

Recall all the times you’ve started an exercise program. After several weeks of working out consistently, you start to see results. It’s not as important that you work out really hard or for a long time each session as it is that you do it consistently. Maybe the results are not coming as quickly as you would like; that’s okay. Trust that changes are happening. If you continue to work out consistently, after a few more weeks, you’ll see definite and positive improvement in your physical and mental conditioning.

If you want to talk about things moving at a glacial pace, we can look at, well, glaciers. They move incredibly slowly, right? But they are moving consistently and eventually you (okay, maybe not you, but a scientist) will notice that they’re in a different place than they were.

We can apply the same principle of consistency to your business and the good news is it won’t take millions of years to see the changes. Research has discovered that communicating with your clients at least 25 times a year is optimal. WHOA! That’s the initial reaction I get from people when I say that. “Twenty-five times a year is way too much for my business!” No, it’s not. Here’s how you “touch” clients 25 times without being a pest.

Personal contact

You probably talk or meet with each of your clients at least once or twice a year just in the normal course of doing business. Personal contact is very important to keeping the relationship going. If you can’t manage to make a phone call or have lunch with a client once in an entire year, he’s probably not that good of a client. And for sure he won’t be a client for very long.

So that’s two times of contact.

Send birthday acknowledgement

A card, a little gift, something to let him know you remembered his special day. When is the last time one of your vendors or business partners acknowledged your birthday? Has it ever happened? Generally your birthday is a day that is yours alone; it’s not like a national holiday that everyone is celebrating, so it’s your special day. If you have a good relationship with your client, sending a birthday acknowledgement is not a hollow gesture and will be much appreciated.

That’s one more time, so we’re up to three.

Share industry information or tips

You can do this through an e-zine like this one, regular e-mail, a printed newsletter, copies of articles from a magazine, whatever works for you. I recommend sending this kind of information at least once a month. You may argue that you don’t have time to compile stuff that often and that once a quarter is good enough. I’ll give you that quarterly is better than not at all, but higher frequency, more consistently (just like working out) yields better results. If you are providing useful information, recipients will not mind receiving it.

Do it 12 times a year, added to the previous three and we’re at 15.

Mail postcards or greeting cards

Promote a special occasion, upcoming workshop or unusual event. Everyone sends cards and gifts for the holidays at the end of the year. Now more and more people are jumping on the bandwagon to send stuff at Thanksgiving, thinking that will set them apart from all the December exchanges. Who is reaching out at Groundhog Day (February 2), International Customer Loyalty Month (April) or Flag Day (June 14)? Pick a few times throughout the year and use them to express your personality, say thanks for your business or ask for a referral in an unusual way. Your clients will remember you better and more often.

Every other month is six times, plus the 15, and we’ve got 21.

Recognize clients’ accomplishments

When you see an article in the newspaper or hear through the grapevine about a client’s good fortune, send a handwritten note, (or at least an e-mail), to say “Congratulations!” Who doesn’t like recognition for a job well done? And your client will feel good about you for having taken the time/interest to let her know you’re aware of it.

Let’s say you do this once a year and now we’re closer to the target with 22.

Write a column for the local newspaper, industry publication, association newsletter, etc.

Share your expertise with an audience that includes your clients, as well as potential clients. You position yourself as an expert and you reach a lot of people at one time with minimal effort. If there are 1,200 readers, it certainly beats making 1,200 phone calls, doesn’t it?If you get published three times, we’re all the way up to 25! Wow, that wasn’t so difficult.

In addition to these suggestions, you may have some other ideas on what you can do to keep in touch with your clients. Take some time today to come up with a plan for consistently communicating and improving rapport with your clients.

You’ll soon see that whatever you choose to do, doing it consistently yields fantastic results.


Lori Saitz is an appreciation marketing expert and the founder and president of Zen Rabbit Baking Company. She created the Zen Rabbit Gratitude Program for business professionals who believe expressing appreciation – for their clients, referral sources and anyone else who supports their success – is important.

Developing Your Introduction

by Amanda Chocko

How do you answer the question, “What do you do?” When answering this question you need to have a clear understanding of what you do, why, and for whom. You should be able to articulate what makes you special or different from others in the same field. And believe it or not, there are certain guidelines in developing your elevator pitch or business commercial.

First, do not try to encompass everything you or your company does in your introduction. It should be no more than 10 to 20 seconds in length. Your goal is to peak interest and encourage conversation, not give a monologue. If it sounds too rehearsed or like a sales pitch, you are sure to lose them at “hello.”

Come up with a unique title and identify the main benefits (not features) your company offers. Envision every person you meet with the letters (WIIFM-what’s in it for me?) written across their forehead. For example, when people used to ask me the question, “Amanda, what do you do,” I would respond this way:

“I own a company called Ready Set Network!” (Ho hum.) “I organize and facilitate networking events and workshops for professionals and job seekers.” (That’s nice.)

This response sounds okay, but I have come up with a better one. Now when someone asks me this question, I say “I am a Professional People Connector” (notice the catchy title?) This immediately invokes curiosity in the person I am speaking with and is usually followed by, “Really, how does that work?” or, “Tell me more.” Then, I explain the benefits of my business: “I help professionals become more confident and effective networkers. I do this by facilitating speed networking events and presenting networking workshops.” More often than not, the other person wants more information.

Your elevator pitch should also be simple to understand. Try not to use industry jargon, technical terms or acronyms that people won’t understand. First of all, most people will not ask you what you are talking about because they may feel inferior for not knowing, and you want to make it easy for people to refer you to their network. If they do not understand what you do, they will not be able to tell other people, and that is what networking is all about.

So, before you go to your next networking event or social gathering, practice your own unique introduction that sets you apart from the competition and gets people saying, “Tell me more.”


 

Amanda Chocko is the founder of Ready Set Network! offering “speed networking” events and networking workshops that will give you tools necessary to become a more confident and successful networker! She may be reached at (616) 450-2321.

Boost your credibility as a leader

marketing ideas leadership

by Jack Pyle, Fellow PRSA

No leadership skill is more important than the ability to be persuasive; to speak with confidence and competence. The same statement could be made for all professionals, but it is especially true for managers. You must be able to be persuasive and credible if you are to convince others to use your ideas.

Managers can increase their credibility with staff, senior executives, clients and the public by strengthening their speaking and leadership communication skills. Fortunately, everyone can learn to be more dynamic and persuasive.

Simply by using the power of body language, you quickly increase your credibility and improve your ability to influence others with your ideas.

First impressions are crucial to credibility. In his excellent book, You are the Message, Roger Ailes points out that you must make a good impression within just a few seconds. In a job interview, Joyce Brothers says you have about 30 seconds to make a good impression.

Nonverbal communication (body language) is a key ingredient in first impressions. Your appearance and style make a big difference in how others see and respond to you. President George Bush, Senior certainly learned this well when he overcame the “wimp image” the media tagged him with before the first debate of his initial presidential campaign. Roger Ailes coached Bush on how to use nonverbal communications techniques effectively.

Everyone is familiar with the phrase: “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” Even though we know this bit of folk wisdom is true, few people heed it. Where do most of us spend our time when getting ready to guide employees, present a proposal to management or staff, or respond to a crisis? We work on the words, the content. How many actually rehearse the presentation of the ideas and critique it? Is it any wonder we don’t do a better job of presenting our ideas?

Words are important. On the other hand, nonverbal communication carries most of meaning when you talk to another. Inflection (how the voice is used) also carries a significant portion of the meaning. You not only need to know what to say, it is very important to work on how you say it.

Some of the ways nonverbal messages are conveyed

  1. Tone of voice: Varying both volume and speed is important to make your voice interesting to others. Voices with a lower pitch have more authority than high pitched voices.
  2. Facial expressions: Smiling, good eye contact, and listening have a strong positive effect on others.
  3. Physical appearance and manner: Posture, handshake, gestures, energy level and use of humor affect your message delivery.
  4. Dress: Neatness counts. Darker colors command more respect. Make sure shoes are shined. Conservative classic styles work best to get a good response from others.

That’s a lot to think about, but here’s an easy way to remember what you need to do to increase your credibility. No matter how nervous you feel inside, using the following five tips will help you appear confident when you speak to others.

When you speak, remember S.P.E.A.K.

S is for smile. It’s one of your best communication tools. It always helps you make a good first impression, and it helps make others want to listen to you. Most managers need to smile more.

P is for posture. How you stand or sit makes a big difference. Your physical stance tells others how you feel about yourself. Confident people stand tall and sit straight.

E is for eye contact. A person who is believable and honest “looks you right in the eye.” Don’t stare, but look at a person’s face for at least three seconds before moving on to look at another person. If you are talking to a group, give your message to one person at a time. (This is important in the U.S. culture, but eye contact may have a very different meaning in another culture. If you are traveling abroad or meeting managers from other countries, learn the cultural differences.)

A is for animation. Show you are interested in your subject with your energy and animation. Be enthusiastic. Animate your voice by speeding up and slowing down, talking louder and softer at times. Make your face animated. A is also for attitude. Make sure you feel good about yourself and what you are doing.

K is for kinetics or motion. Use your hands and arms to make gestures that support your words. Use two-handed, symmetrical gestures, and hold your hands high when gesturing at about the chest level.

Remember S.P.E.A.K. and you will boost your credibility in conversations and presentations. You will be much more persuasive, and people will respond more favorably to you and your ideas.


Jack Pyle, president and janitor of Face-to-Face Matters, Lansing, Michigan, USA, is a communication consultant and provides leadership communication training to corporate, government and nonprofit managers. He speaks frequently at state, national and international conferences.

Great Marketing Ideas: Be a Mom for a Moment

Marketing Example Unicef Mom

Unicef Finland wanted to raise awareness for children’s rights and raise funds with a minimum cost. They also wanted to reinforce their position as an organization dedicated specifically to children’s welfare. There are over 145 million orphaned or abandoned children all around the world.

“By supporting Unicef anyone can be a mother to them, just for a moment.”

To provoke and create discussion they started by abandoning sound-equipped (crying) baby strollers in 14 cities. Inside the stroller was a note with the message:

Thank you for caring, we hope there is more people like you.
Be a mom for a moment.
Unicef

Media and public reaction was overwhelming. They flooded all the major TV, radio and web news. Estimated media reach was over 80% of Finnish population after just two days.

Advertising Agency: Taivas, Helsinki, Finland
Art Directors: Jyri Niemi, Anna-Mia Alanko
Copywriter: Adele Enersen
Account Supervisors: Heini Häyrinen, Joanna Kokonmäki
Production company: ADDlife Finland

marketing ideas ebook divider

References

I Believe in Advertising. Unicef Finland: Mom. March 31, 2009. Retrieved from http://www.ibelieveinadv.com/2009/03/unicef-finland-mom/.