Be A Brand That People Can Trust When I sat down to develop the content for this book, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. I knew that I wanted to provide priceless information and invaluable insight for building a powerful profitable brand. I knew that I wanted people to put this book down and to be able to go out into the world and develop a business, products, and services that they could be proud of. I also knew that I wanted to speak from my heart about some things that I know needed to be said but some people may not want to hear. And there was one word that kept coming back to me again and again. Credibility. As a marketing and branding strategist, I can talk to you about websites, logos, visuals, media, and platforms until I am purple in the face. But none of that matters if no one is willing to pay you because they don’t believe or trust that you can deliver on your promise. People do business with people they can trust. It’s why our grannies go the same church for decades, our moms will wait for days at their favorite hair salon for those roller sets, and our dads stick to one barber shop. They keep going back because week after week and year after year, they can trust the pastor, stylist, or dude holding the clippers. They trust that the person will show up for the service or appointment. They trust that they will not jack up the shape up. They trust that they won’t get screwed over. This, business friends, is what credibility looks like. You can’t buy credibility with a credit card. You can’t earn it with a media appearance. You can’t speak your way into it from the stage. Credibility is something that is earned. Money can’t buy you love and it damn sure can’t buy you business credibility. When you’re credible as an entrepreneur, it means that you always operate in integrity. For starters, everything about you and your brand should be well-polished and well put together. Secondly, you have to show up consistently. And lastly, since credibility is about trust, you have to build those trust relationships with your clients and your peers. So how do you know if you’re getting it right? Here are a few markers: People say your name first. When you have a trustworthy brand, you will own your space. If a particular product or service is mentioned, your name should come up at the top of the list. People are willing to refer you. Clients who trust you are willing to tell the world about you. They will talk about you, shout you out on social media, and share your posts. If it’s crickets among your tribe, something is up. People come back to you again and again. If you show up and deliver, there is no reason for your clients to go elsewhere. When you treat people right and earn their trust, they will consistently and repeatedly do business with you. Even if Joe Blow comes onto the scene with a lower price, chances are that people will chose spectacular service and someone who they can trust over saving a few coins every time. 1
Okay, it’s time for a little real talk. If we can be honest with each other, many of us aren’t at the head of the class when it comes to credibility in our business. Now, believe me, you won’t find many people who are bigger cheerleaders for entrepreneurs than me. I love it when I see small businesses doing big things, and in fact that is what most of my work is about. But for as many phenomenal experiences that I’ve had with small companies, be it as a consumer or a partner, I’ve had my fair share of letdowns and disappointments. I’ve swiped a credit card and never received the order. I’ve had deadlines missed. I’ve received the excuses, my calls have been ducked, and my emails have gone unanswered. And we have to be better than that. Because we are better than that. I don’t think that we’re having enough real conversations about real stuff that happens in our businesses. We all want to talk about our cool new products. We all want to brag on our first six-figure deal. We all want to count, celebrate, and share our wins. And we should do all of those things. But are we willing, are you willing, to talk about the times when a business doesn’t get it quite right? How about when someone drops the ball and never picks it up? How about when we just straight suck? My point is that we have to hold each other accountable. We can all think of a business that’s delivered less than great service. Instead of providing feedback to the owner, we whispered behind their backs and maybe we just didn’t go back. Did that serve them? No, it didn’t. So we have to be willing to give it to each other straight. We have to be willing to spend a little money with each other to gauge others’ experience and quality. We have to hold each other down. If we don’t, who will? Turn to your neighbor and repeat after me. You will be a credible business. I wish I could say that the reputation that proceeded us as new entrepreneurs was strong, especially in the online space. But the truth is, it isn’t. Based on some bad, past experiences, people can see us as sheisty and shady, which means that we have to work twice as hard to be considered just as good. With your credibility on the line, it’s worth the work.
When it comes to building a business that people can trust, here are some elements of your client experience to focus on: v Make An Incredible First Impression. Your client’s first consultation, first transaction, and first deliverable will make or break your reputation. Put processes in place to ensure that your client experience is seamless and professional. Have the best packaging. Check the links to be sure they work before you send them out. It’s the little things. v Don’t Cut Corners. Just because you may be a one-person show for now, that doesn’t give you a pass to be mediocre. If you put crap out into the world with your name it, that becomes a part of your brand’s history. Take your time and do it right. It’s not worth the risk. v Do What You Say You’re Going To Do. Trust begins with your word. If you promise to get something out to a client or follow up with a colleague to set up a date for lunch, make sure that you get it done. v Fix It When You Don’t. When you drop the ball, pick it up. If you make a mistake, the worst thing that you can do is try to sweep it under the rug and ignore it. Pick up the phone and make it right.