It’s exhilarating to start a new business. Perhaps you’re an industry expert that identified a need for a specific service you can fill. Or, you’re a tech wiz who was waiting for a piece of hardware to become cheap and available so you could build a new, culture-changing product.
We are all salesmen
We all know the importance of branding your fledgling endeavor, from which flows clear, compelling copy and a unique look and feel that perfectly conveys your brand personality. We do this to create trust. We buy things from people we trust.
You know who we don’t trust? Salesmen. If you’re trying to get people to buy a product or service even in a supporting role, at the end of the day, you’re driving sales. Salesman. It’s is a word that conjures up unfettered financial ambition, unethical dealing, sleazy demeanors, and that awesome quote about coffee being for closers in Glengarry Glen Ross.
OK, well, we know you’re not that kind of salesman (the bad kind). You believe in your product so much so, you made it, perhaps to the detriment of your saving account or mortgage.
But right now you have no track record, no great Yelp reviews, or JD Power awards.
But right now you have no track record, no great Yelp reviews, or JD Power awards. How to begin the start of a trusting relationship?
What do you do exactly? Your website (or any introductory collateral) should be clear about what you do, who for, and how it benefits them. Include how you’re different from your competition: faster, of higher quality, more efficient (cheaper), etc. If it sounds like you are everything to everybody, you’re not zeroed in on your consumer.
All the other information on the site/collatoral should be a proof point as to why someone should hire you/buy your product. Does it propel your customer closer to whatever your call to action is (purchase, download, call, etc.)? Is the content a clear, consumer benefit? No? Then delete it.
If your brand promise includes charitable work, donations, or a higher purpose that aligns with your consumer’s beliefs, these should be integrated into the core of your messaging. Be careful with this though – if it doesn’t mesh right or sounds like an add on it could read as insincere.
All touchpoints should reinforce your brand and its promises, from your website to your operations, to your product.
For example, if you’re a proofreading service, make sure all consumer-facing copy is perfect. Or, if you’re a company that prides itself on security, you best have an https web address. And do sweat the small stuff as clunky graphics and broken links erodes trust in your professionalism or product.
All copy and interactions should have a consistent voice/personality. Your consumer is the hero of the story, and they will notice if you start writing for someone else. Or, even worse, that you’ve changed.
And, I’m assuming your product will live up to your promise. If it doesn’t, there should be some transparency on how you’re addressing the issue. I worked for a company that made a complex internet-connected device. In the beginning, it had only a bare minimum of functionality and the update/upgrade schedule required explanation. We ended up making it interactive; consumers voted on what new features they wanted first. Because of our upfront honesty, people felt included, listened to, and part of our team. I’d like to believe that they cut us some slack that they wouldn’t have had we not been so forthcoming.
Knowledge creates trust. Yes, you should have an FAQ page or knowledge base. Make it clear what happens if a brand promise is broken (e.g., a shipping time was not met), or what is your return policy is.
You should also give detailed product information. Have a phone number, chat feature, or an email for customer questions.
Show your brand’s softer side by showcasing your team or origin story. Depending on what you provide, your qualifications, motivations, and inspirations could be compelling to potential customers and make them root for you. This can be as simple as an “About Us” page or a blog.
I do highly recommend blogs, especially for service companies. Robust content can show in-depth empathy and understanding of consumer’s pain points, reinforcing your qualifications as an ally. You’ll also be positioning yourself (and by extension, your brand) as an expert in the field. Push this content out to social or whatever places your customers may be lurking.
Customer feedback. Yes, it’s often negative. Look at it and sweat it. You care about your business, and you care about your customers. How can you do better? Note: if you send out feedback for to everyone, you’ll have way better chances of positive reviews.
From the first interaction with your website to your final product or service, consumers will be learning what your brand promise is and judging how well you fulfill it. Focused, consistent messaging in your brand voice will provide a solid foundation for trust.
Then, when you deliver on your brand promise, you will have earned this trust. Consumers will recommend you to friends/coworkers/family.
Trust is a prerequisite for purchase. Don’t screw it up.