Building Credibility

No, we’re not talking about low self-esteem issues. Building credibility means establishing a reputation for customers to buy or an audience to believe. It’s not an endeavor to take lightly and those at the top in business must pitch in and lead by example.

Do you remember the good old days before e-mail? Your interruptions were few as office memos were rare and tasks were driven by your own to-do-lists as a function of some tangible business transaction or goal. When you talked to people on the phone or in person, some skill was required to find you and care used to build relationships. It took time, money, and effort to travel or send a letter, produce a quality brochure, and wear appropriate business attire.

Fast forward to today and you are constantly interrupted with not just legacy phone calls and fax, but e-mail, cell calls, texts, instant messages, and social media updates from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or others. It takes little effort to use Google and get basic information on virtually any organization and correspondingly takes no courage to then fire off an unsolicited e-mail. The reason the U.S. Postal Service and most national newspapers are going under is because they are too slow and costly. They are no longer the exclusive credible sources for the delivery of information, with television and radio stations soon having the same fate.

For individuals and organizations to be successful in the future they must become disciplined at filtering credible sources of information and presenting themselves in a credible way. It’s fine to have a vague awareness of all the updates happening on your screen or devices for the occasional emergency or unusual opportunity, but generally only a couple of times a day for about 15 minutes each you should delete, forward, or respond to all the digital noise.

For organizations, credibility means not only web search engine marketing but the ability to quickly trigger an interactive response. The following are some tips for the credibility journey:

Start with a goal of what you want to accomplish, like building a database for follow-up or X more online transactions per month. It makes no sense to get to the top of a Google search for no reward. The goal should be specific and measurable by timeframe and return. If you don’t have the time or interest to begin building credibility, then don’t start as it must be a normal part of your sales and marketing.

Do your homework. Ask customers why they’ve chosen you. Study how you rank on the web, as well as what competitors and peers in your industry post for blogs, articles, videos, and web sites. This drill will give you perspective from current customers and help you judge status versus competitors. Some things like keywords or phrases of how customers should find you will become apparent. Good examples of dos and don’ts and your own preferences will become obvious too. If you have the same statements as all of your competitors on your website, it’s time to rethink your approach to new prospects for all aspects of sales and marketing.

Credibility means regular and consistent updates from a variety of sources. A good place to start is any business listings in directories or communities. You don’t have to do it all immediately, but a good schedule example is at least a daily Tweet, LinkedIn, and Facebook update and monthly article, blog, and video updates. Keep your goal in mind, meaning you’ll usually want to drive links to your website using desired key phrases. Be smart and link status updates on multiple services so that one Tweet updates LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. Sign up for any of the various website or short URL services to track traffic. All of these actions should fold into regular marketing event and promotion schedules.

Try to stand out and be interesting. Your Twitter page should have a custom background appropriate for low and high resolution, since only a small portion on the left is visible for text. Take a stab at FBML and a custom Facebook Fan Page, with the secret being to display any background image last. Use a custom theme for your blog and don’t write about the same tired topics or copy other blog articles. Do use relevant and consistent categories and tags matching your desired key words in all article and blog bookmarks. Make sure your videos have good light and volume with a beginning, middle, and end. Ideally, everything you do is linked and has a common theme.

It may take months for your hard work to begin to show at Google or before you get any industry or customer feedback, even if you purchase advertising or professional Search Engine Marketing help. Once you begin to become credible from reviews by customers on directories or links from third-parties, you must still continue to evaluate and react versus competitors, changes in technology, and any negative feedback. Most businesses have many moving parts, but building and maintaining credibility is a direct link to profitability.

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