When deciding on your business, the first step is to identify a need or ongoing concern of your target market and provide a solution for it. In the case of China, the concern was the worsening levels of air pollution. The quality of air in China had been deteriorating that it opened the doors to a new industry called “Air Farming.”
In 2012, a Chinese millionaire named Chen Guangbiao started selling “fresh” canned air in China for $ 0.80 a pop. According to Chen, the air is collected in the mountain tops of Xinjiang and is “available in different flavors such as ‘Pristine Tibet’ and ‘Post-Industrial Taiwan.’” Chen sold 100,000 cans in his first day of business.
In 2015, a startup company called Vitality Air began selling bottled “fresh Canadian air” to China for $ 14 to $ 20 each and sold out 500 bottles in the first two weeks. Not to be outdone, a British man named Leo De Watts started selling bottled “fresh British country air” to China for $ 115 per bottle.
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You may be scratching your head why such an obvious scam would become a profitable venture. It has drawn less attention to the critical levels of air pollution in China and instead has become a commentary on the lack of trust and credibility by a select number of entrepreneurs.
There is a difference between opportunity and being opportunistic.
Since the Internet became accessible to the world in 2000, it has blown open the doors of opportunity for entrepreneurs to take their business to the global stage. Powered by evolving digital technology and influenced by online channels such as social media, an Internet-based business made it possible to bridge markets once separated by oceans.
But it also unwittingly created opportunities for scammers.
With more than 1 Billion websites operating on the Internet servicing the needs of more than 3.4 Billion users online every day, the values of trust and credibility have become sought after qualities for online business. Believe it or not, it is easy to build trust and credibility in a generally skeptical online world:
1. Invest in your website.
It’s not enough that you have a website. You have to ensure your website will enhance User Experience or UX. Your website must have the following qualities
2. Be yourself.
Psychiatrist and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman theorized that consumers are more intuitive than rational. They will patronize a business if they align with its purpose. Speak to your market; do not lecture or try to impress them with fancy terminologies. Your message should be short and simple: “I can help you.”
An effective way is to embed videos on your Home and About Us pages. You can tell people who you are; what your business is all about and how you can help them within 2 minutes.
3. Host webinars.
Another effective way to gain trust and credibility with your customers is to host webinars. Here are a few of the benefits you gain by hosting webinars:
- Develops authority and trust
- Builds relationships
- Highlight your expertise
- Help you understand your target audience
- Raise brand awareness
You can invite experts in their respective fields. By so doing, your guests may reciprocate and link your webinar to their websites and expand your market reach.
4. Blog regularly.
Blogging gives you a platform to address the needs and concerns of your customers. It allows you to share actionable ideas on a host of various topics your customers are regularly searching information on.
Here are tips on how to use a blog to enhance your trust and credibility to customers:
- Use analytics, keyword research and audience engagement to see which types of content interest your customers the most.
- Publish three to four blogs a week and have these distributed through multiple online channels.
- Your blog should at least be 1,600 words long.
- Do not use technical jargon in your blog.
- Write your blog as if you are conversing with your customer.
If you don’t have the time to write a blog, hire a freelance writer but make sure you read the content before you have them published.
5. Add testimonials.
Testimonials are a powerful tool in earning trust and credibility with customers. It is your customer telling others how acquiring your products or services benefited his or her business.
This is why testimonies are so effective; it is organic, natural and very real. It is the most sincere way of validating your trustworthiness and credibility. Having a testimonials page in your website will greatly influence the decision of site visitors to patronize your business.
6. Be truthful about reviews.
What is the difference between a testimonial and a review? With a testimonial, you get to choose who gives the statement. A review is more objective and impartial because you are dealing with the opinions of a collective.
Of course, if you own the website you have the ability to be selective on which reviews are posted. But remember, website visitors are skeptical by nature. If all the reviews are “5 Stars” or “Excellent”, the process becomes self-serving.
For example, ShopInsuranceCanada, included a rating system for customers to use when giving their review. It’s an effective approach because it humanizes the business. After all, you can’t please everyone all the time.
If a customer posts negative reviews or gives you “1 Star” it should inspire you to make your product or service better. Reach out to the customer, get more details and secure inputs on how to improve your business.
7. Include case studies.
How do you make a testimonial more powerful? When you include a case study which details how acquiring your product or service helped the customer achieve his or her goals or turned around the business to become a verified success.
It’s not enough to state you can help businesses achieve a 400 percent ROI in one year. Show website visitors how you did if for your customers. Remember, some customers do extensive research before buying a product or service.
8. Get certified.
Part of the research customers do is due diligence. They want to eliminate all the possibilities of dealing with a fraudulent business. One of the ways they do this is to check with regulating agencies.
As a registered business, have a copy of your SEC or trade certificate accessible for viewing in the Home Page. You could also go through the process of being accredited by the Better Business Bureau.
It will entail some expense but it would put you ahead of other businesses that are not certified or verified as legitimate.
9. Be active in social media.
Social media is a great way to bring your business closer to people. The idea is to get more involved with your customers. If you have a Facebook page, engage your followers once they post a comment. Do not be disheartened or get annoyed with negative comments. Give your response in a respectful and highly respectful manner.
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Again it is about humanizing your business; giving it a personality that people can relate to and not just an enterprise out for profit. And don’t just talk about business. If you want to foster trust and credibility, show your customers who you are. Share your thoughts and ideas on other issues other than business.
10. Attend to concerns right away.
Trust is a quality that is earned over time. You cannot earn it in one day or one week. It may take months or years. The key is consistency. If a customer calls your attention on a defect or a problem with your product or service, attend to it right away.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Be a listener 80 percent of the time.
- Avoid clichés like “I know where you’re coming from” or “I’m sorry to hear about that”; have a conversation with the customer. That’s how relationships are built.
- Do not be defensive or argue with a customer.
- If it’s your mistake, own up to it and assure an immediate resolution to the problem.
- If you have to replace the product, do it.
- If a customer requests for a refund, give it.
- If it’s the customer’s mistake, see what you can do to make the situation easier.
- Be proactive; if resolution will take time, keep the customer updated of the status.
Strangely, we live at a time where digital technology has created a dichotomy. In an age where automation, efficiency and mobility are essential components for success, the conditions have lent greater importance for business to humanize its organization.
Customers have ready access to information and they have many platforms to voice out their concerns. Technology has tilted the balance of power toward the consumer.
In order to succeed, it is not enough to create new customers. You must also focus on establishing strong relationships with existing customers. They will help you build trust and compatibility in your industry.