The Internet is the ultimate equalizer. Inside a browser window, a one-employee home business can look as good as a Fortune 500 company.
This presents an important challenge. As a small business, how can you convince potential customers that yours is not a fly-by-night operation?
There are several things you can do on your site to generate trust:
Create an “About Us” page. Better still, make it an “About Me” page. People are tired of large, bureaucratic conglomerates and their “your-call-is-important-to-us” approach to service.
Unlike the big guys, you can connect with customers at a personal level. Include your picture and don’t be afraid to talk about yourself.
Include your physical address on your website. Even if your customers never visit you, a physical address shows them that you are real and don’t have anything to hide.
Mention how long you have been in business. Longevity and stability are proxies for trust. If your small business is still young, you can talk about your past experience instead.
Use different email addresses in your “Contact Us” page. Create several email addresses for different “departments”.
For example, set up:
Then, forward them all to your regular email address. Even if you’re just a one-man-show this will project a more professional image.
Toll Free Phone Number
Get a 1-800 number and display it prominently on your site. As a customer, you expect the companies you do business with to have a toll free line.
It has become the norm, and it’s really not that expensive, so you should secure one.
Reviews & Testimonials
Real opinions of satisfied customers are effective trust-builders. To be credible, reviews should provide some form of contact information (a name and a link to a website will work).
Showing a list of previous customers and the type of work you did for them is also very effective.
If you’re just starting out, ask your friends for their opinions, or give away free samples in exchange for comments that you can then turn into testimonials.
If you belong to a professional association (like the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of Realtors, or the American Management Association) ask them if you can use their logo on your site. They are a very effective way to generate trust.
Terms and Conditions
Create a “Media” page and post press releases, news about your company, high-resolution pictures of your products, your company profile and history, etc.
You want people in the press to talk about you. The easier you make their job the more coverage you’ll get, and the more trustworthy your company will appear.
Brian Jackson is the former owner of Shoestring Branding, a marketing and branding blog for entrepreneurs, with an emphasis on internet-based tools and strategies. It was recently acquired by BrandBlast.com