Back in the 1970’s, consumers saw about 500 advertising messages per day. Just guess what that number is today.
So believe me when I say this:
When you’re first starting a business, no one trusts you.
You need to work towards a brand that will sell people on the idea of working with you. This requires building trust with as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.
Here are 15 ways to make your image look super legitimate without spending a fortune on marketing. Also, these are things you should be doing with marketing, because it will only reinforce the message you are trying to send.
Keep this in mind:
This article is less about specific ways to drive traffic or save money on advertising, and more about making your brand look like you belong so prospects trust you when they do find you.
1. A premium logo matters to new prospects.
Stat that matters: A recent study published in Psychological Science shows that logos and branding can have a profound influence on decision-making.
A first impression goes a long way.
Then it should come as no surprise that a company’s logo is one of the most important decisions made in the beginning stages of entrepreneurship of any kind.
Have a great logo and potential customers will immediately feel a certain way about your brand. It will take less work to convince them to give you their business.
Have a so-so logo, and unfortunately that just means a lot of people will think your product is so-so.
Here’s the bottom line:
This affects anyone and everyone that comes in contact with your business and it’s a huge deal to your bottom line. Don’t skimp on a logo. Hire a professional, or at the least, use inexpensive design software like Tailor Brands to create a great logo yourself.
2. Your website is as important as your store front. Keep it clean.
Stat that matters: According to a 2016 Vendasta study about online reputation, 61% of consumers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile optimized site
After a logo, the next step is to have a clean website that looks great on a phone, that people can find the most common information they need quickly.
That’s it, that’s what a website should do.
If your website isn’t super clear about the information you want people to know and the 1 thing you want a prospect to do, then you will convert less people, it’s as simple as that.
Thankfully, this should be a relief to most entrepreneurs! Don’t try to create some super convoluted mouse trap that can confuse people. Just make sure that when your hard earned website visitors visit your site that everything they need is easy to find.
Along with that, to build from the logo point before, make sure that all images are clear and professional looking so people trust your attention to detail right off the bat.
How your site looks is part of the same first impression that can make or break your image.
3. Online listings are the foundation of an established brand.
This should come as no surprise:
If you’re a small business, make sure your listings are claimed.
There are over 300 directory sites that should have your business name, phone number, street address, web address, and even hours of operation. Google is still a robot, after all, and it rewards businesses that it trusts are located, without a doubt, where they should be. The easiest way Google does this is by looking at listings and directory sites to see if your business information is consistent across the board.
If Google starts sending people to the wrong places, Google will lose market share to other search engines. Create a schedule to knock out a handful each week during your first year in business, or look at different local marketing software like Unvendor that can handle it for you.
4. Social Media will humanize your brand.
That might sound obvious, but most brands never get off the ground and actually generate new business from social media because they don’t know how to go from 0 to enough followers to make a difference. Social Media is also important to search engines.
You know what Google wants?
To send people to a business that is real. You know what fake businesses don’t do a lot of? Post consistently to social media channels.
Yes, it can be time consuming. Yes, coming up with content on a regular basis isn’t your favorite part of running a business. But in this day and age, it’s increasing with importance, and if you don’t have the resources to pump into advertising and paid media to grow your brand, social media can be really effective.
There will be several ways to create content on a budget throughout this post.
5. Nothing draws a crowd like a crowd. Or reviews!
Stat that matters: From the same 2016 Vendasta study: 92% of consumers now read online reviews vs. 88% in 2014.
This is the last of the obvious local marketing techniques.
You need reviews to look legitimate. You need reviews to make prospects understand what it’s like to be a customer. Not only that, but again, Google rewards businesses with frequent reviews.
When you’re just starting out, this means treating each customer with twice as much TLC than you already do because then when you kindly let them know that leaving a review of their experience will help you out a lot, they will gladly oblige.
Make it as easy as possible for them to tell the internet that you are someone worth doing business with. Prospects can find out how they are going to be treated before they ever reach out or come into the store.
6. Consolidate your great customer feedback into website testimonials.
Take those reviews from various sites, reach out, and ask them if they would be willing to be a testimonial for your website.
This example of social proof is a sure fire way to earn the trust of more potential customers. So if they are going to your website, make sure the good praise of those other people is front and center.
This is also true:
Prospects care more about what other people say about your business than what you claim yourself.
7. Claim all maps.
Stat that matters: From this CNN Money article, Microsoft Bing has been on the rise every year since 2009 in terms of market share for search, largely due to Microsoft products including Bing as their default option.
“But everyone uses Google.”
That’s fine, but even for local SEO purposes make sure you have a presence on all of the major map services. All of the big brands do and it will prove to consumers that again, you have your online stuff together and can be entrusted with their business.
Are you noticing a pattern?
The first half of what makes a brand look great online is just being in all of the places that you should be.
8. Have a real story for your brand that dates back before the company.
If you’re starting a business, chances are you have experience in whatever new venture you are beginning.
Now, a great way to show that is by displaying your personal accolades or even an in depth story of why the business came to be. If you’ve been working for large accounting firms your whole life and have just branched out on your own, call out what you’ve spent your time doing and why that makes you qualified.
You need to show people your resume before they’ll hire you, wouldn’t you agree?
9. Make it easy for customers to check in and tag you in social media.
Sometimes getting a customer to leave a review after the transaction is over and they are gone can be difficult. Life happens and people get lazy about logging on just to type out a review for you.
However, if while you’re at the store you can get some happy customers to take a picture and tag themselves in it while mentioning your business, not only does that appear on their social media’s timeline, but Google likes it too.
The power of referrals is huge and when you’re just starting out, getting people to vouch for your service is one of the fastest ways to show everyone else that it’s ok for them to do it as well.
How can you make this happen?
Give people a reason to do something like this. Artwork, backdrops, banana suits, cardboard cutouts, etc. get creative.
10. Donate time to a charity and use it as content.
One of the most underutilized brand hacks there is.
Donating time to charity and turning it into photos or videos for your website and social media is a super simple way to send a message to the world that business is good.
You are paying it forward because you are an established brand that partners with established charities within the community.
It’s also just a really great thing to do.
11. Partner with an old time, established local favorite restaurant.
Let’s piggyback off of that last idea with another no-brainer.
Sponsor a contest with a long time favorite, locally owned restaurant in the area.
I’m not talking about an Applebee’s, it has to be someone else that has the real neighborhood brand you’re looking to attach yourself to so some of that trust will rub off onto your business.
How do you pull this off?
Post on social media to have anyone comment with who they would like to bring to dinner if they won. Put 50 bucks behind it if you need a bigger audience to see it, but if you picked a good restaurant this should work every time. It will cost you the price of dinner for two and oftentimes the restaurant will split it with you to use for their own social media.
12. Blog about your expertise to add history to your brand.
This is an easy one, but again, hardly done with consistency.
Create a blog where once a week, you blog about something in your industry and provide a take on it. This is great for social media content, and over a short period of time you will build a library full of information that might not specifically be about your product.
Anyone that goes to your website and sees it will know that you are legitimate and knowledgeable in your space.
13. Focus on Yelp more than you want to.
Yelp is the review site that is really hard to get reviews on. Many small business owners just ignore Yelp because they don’t want to deal with it.
Yes, Yelp has their own weird filter that makes it more exclusive for reviews to make it to your business profile.
Here’s why it matters:
Apple Maps is partnered with Yelp, so anyone asking Siri or using Safari for directions to a restaurant near them, is going to get Yelp star ratings in the search results. So even if you only focus on the site enough to get one measly 5 star review that sticks, it will help your brand.
How many people do you know with an iPhone? Exactly.
You can see more about that Yelp and Apple partnership here from Forbes back in 2012 when it was announced.
14. Create how-to videos for your services to gain trust through transparency.
Once you have some content that showcases you and your new company as an expert in what you do, creating how-to videos is another excellent way to provide transparency to the end consumer.
Don’t be a skeptic.
You will gain far, far more than you even think you will lose.
Let’s say you just opened a restaurant. No one is telling you to give away your family recipes. But, showing some cool kitchen hacks or behind the scenes of your kitchen at work or how you prepare fresh ingredients etc. will go a long way in humanizing your business and revenue will go up as a result.
Again, building a brand as a local business is all about earning the trust of the consumers in your market.
15. Do employee or client write ups to humanize the brand and build trust.
How’s this for humanizing your brand?
The first thing anyone sees when they come to your website or social media are videos and interviews from your own employees and clients.
Break down that wall of unfamiliarity by providing human interaction that your employees and clients will share to their social media following and in turn show everyone that you can be trusted.
Pro tip on this one:
Don’t be too salesy. Make this about the people, not the product, and have some fun with it.
Hopefully you found a few actionable tips that you can use to stand out as an authority, or even just a friendly face in your community. Both will help your balance sheet.
Remember when I said consumers were bombarded with about 500 advertising messages a day back in the 1970’s?
According to CBS news, it’s about 5,000 a day now.
They have more choices than ever before and they are going to spend their money with who they trust. Can we blame them?
**Unvendor is a company with a mission to make small businesses successful without unnecessary and overpriced vendors. The Unvendor dashboard is designed to help with listings, social media, and online reputation.**