Credibility: What Message Are You Sending?

We can use so many different tools to reach out to prospective clients these days. Web sites, blogs, social marketing sites like MySpace, autoresponders and eNewsletters, to name a few.

And you might be doing all the right things. You may have optimized your website, placed your sign-up boxes, and written dozens of clever subject lines for your newsletter.

If you want to sell a product, promote your services, announce an event, showcase your talents, or network, there’s no challenge in getting the message out.

However, if you want that prospective client to take the next step, whether it’s to join your mailing list, attend a free teleclass, download an e-book, or sign-up for coaching, it takes more than just a message, it takes credibility.

The first time a potential customer sees your message,

(1) Do they see your company as credible,
(2) Do you create enough trust to motivate them to the next step, and
(3) Will they want to keep buying from you in the future?

While it’s difficult to know exactly what’s going through the minds of your website visitors, your numbers and statistics will speak volumes. If you’re not seeing the results you want, credibility may be an issue.

According to Felicia J. Slattery, M.A., M.Ad.Ed, Communication Expert, Consultant, Speaker & Coach, “Credibility is the most important factor in determining whether a client will begin a dialog with you by providing you with their email address or contacting you with questions about your services. If your ideal client does not see you as credible, you’ll miss the opportunity to work with that person.”

To build credibility, work on these three things: first impressions, creating trust, and consistency.

First Impressions

Do your marketing materials look professional? Proofread for typos, replace any amateurish graphics and check for broken links. Has anything changed in your business that needs to be updated, like your phone number, event schedule or the details of your bio?

If you want to make a good first impression, add a crisp new photo of yourself. And please, use an email address that reinforces your business brand (yourbusinessname.com) – no hotmail or yahoo accounts, please!

Creating Trust

People want to do business with people whom they know and trust. This is why it is important to get prospects onto your mailing list, so that you can build a rapport, provide valuable information over time, and show them that you’re a real person. So let them see pictures of your dog, and tell a story or two about vacation adventures with the family. By taking the time to create this trust, you’re setting the stage for a mutually beneficial long-term relationship.

Treat all prospects as existing clients. Answer questions and take care of any customer service issues promptly. Be appreciative when people take the time to contact you – thank them and create a dialogue. A little bit of politeness can go a long way.

Consistency

A few months ago, I signed up for an email newsletter. I was impressed by the welcome e-mail. It arrived immediately after I submitted my e-mail address, and spoke of all the wonderful things I’d be getting: a monthly ezine, announcements, products, discounts for current subscribers – sounds great, doesn’t it?

But weeks and months went by without so much as a peep, only a generic “you are subscribed” message every month. After a few months, I unsubscribed. It’s a shame, because I was looking forward to what this person had to offer, and I may have become a customer.

This is one of my biggest pet peeves. When you promise something to your clients or potential clients, you had better deliver. Being inconsistent shows lack of organization and follow-through, which doesn’t bode well if you’re in the business of delivering information or performing services.

Be consistent and keep ’em wanting more!

Credibility just may be the missing link between you and a successful business. What can you do differently to enhance your credibility in the eyes of your prospective clients?

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