In the eyes of a customer, one of the strongest reasons for using a small and local business is that they can be trusted. Big name brands might compete on price, but when it comes to talking to a real person who understands your issue and knows how to help, small businesses can’t be beaten.
Why is trust important for your business?
Being able to trust a business is very important for today’s customers: nearly 70% of consumers across the world are actively trying to find out more about the businesses they’re going to buy from, and in the UK over 40% of people have chosen not to buy from a company because of the way that business conducts itself (Nielsen, 2014).
So trust in your company, and in your company name, is very important for both older consumers and those younger customers who are connected to a world of online information and opinion. For small businesses with a great history and reputation, the key is to transfer this into the online world to make sure you’re ‘covering all bases’. For new small and local businesses, it’s tougher – but building trust in your company name can be done. Here are just a few ways to do it.
1) Use reviews and recommendations
Reviews and recommendations are another great way to build trust in your company name. One of the reasons we’re willing to buy big brand names is that we know lots of people who have bought from them and are happy, so we trust this huge number of recommendations. For small businesses, having strong, positive reviews – online and offline – is key to building trust.
Find ways to encourage happy customers to leave a review, either in your store, by email or online through social media or other sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. Use these positive reviews in your own marketing materials to promote your business, and it’ll help increase the trust potential customers have in you.
2) Be consistent
One of the biggest lessons to learn from national brands that are trusted and loved by customers is to be consistent. Businesses like Coca-Cola, Kelloggs, Boots or WHSmiths are very consistent: wherever you go, whatever product you buy, whichever piece of marketing you look at, it will always be the same. By being consistent, customers feel like they can rely on you because they are very familiar with you, which leads to trust.
You can achieve consistency by making sure you understand the unique selling point (USP) of your business and regularly mentioning it in your marketing. For example, if you’re the only local bakery who offers a range of gluten-free options, make sure you regularly mention this USP. Or if you’re a builder who specialises in decorative brickwork, your USP will be very appealing to a specific audience so it’s important to keep highlighting it.
Using the same logo, colours, photography style and tone of voice are also all useful ways to be consistent: think about how the Coca-Cola logo hasn’t really changed since 1892.
3) Share your expertise
Another important way to build trust is by being helpful. We’re more likely to trust people who are always willing to give advice and help out, rather than someone who only helps when there’s something they want. Being helpful as a small business is one of the ways you can show your expertise without being too ‘salesy’, making it more likely for them to trust you.
One way to do this is through social media. Using social media monitoring tools like Hootsuite, you can track what people are talking about in your area and topics relevant to your business. Reaching out to these potential customers when they have a problem is a way to build trust; for example, if someone tweets “Just spilt red wine on my new dress – what do I do?!”, a local dry-cleaner could give them some emergency advice to help them out. Next time that person needs to use a dry-cleaner, they’ll already know about a business they trust with the expertise to help.
By gathering together good reviews, being consistent, and helping out future customers, even the smallest business can make sure their company name is trusted. Provide an excellent service that’s focused on your customer, and it’ll be even easier.