In this Digital Age, it’s possible to run a business as an entirely “virtual” venture. No face-to-face customer contact, no office, no employees. Just you, your computer and a mobile phone.
Many people dream of running this kind of business in their pj’s, from a coffee shop or on the beach, either as a sideline venture or as their main income producer. But while owning a “virtual” business can sound romantic and care-free, it can also present unique challenges.
In an increasingly searchable world, your online presence may be the only way potential customers will ever know about you or connect with you. You want to be visible and accessible and use every digital media means possible to establish that you are worthy of their trust.
As the Internet has grown more mature and mainstream, online buyers have become more savvy and skeptical about what they see online. The website of a real business and a fake one can look “virtually” identical. Let’s talk about a few factors to consider to enhance your credibility and authority, key steps to show you’re not trying to hide behind your computer and ARE the expert you say you are.
When someone comes to your website, “googles” your name or checks your social media presence, what do they find? Can they easily get the following information?
- The name of your business?
- Who the people involved in your company are? (The “about” page is one of a website’s most visited pages. Be sure you put a human face on your business because people want to do business with people, not impersonal entities.)
- What does your company do? Do you explain your mission, who you serve and note your products or services?
- Is there a telephone number where you can be reached?
- How about a physical address? (Tip: Get a Skype number that goes to voice mail and a P.O. Box for your business address)
- Do you have testimonials from satisfied customers?
It goes without saying you will want to provide useful products, services and information at a fair price. Developing a customer base of repeat business is the path to success and you won’t get repeat customers, if you deliver poor quality products and services or fail to respond to customer service requests.
5 STEPS TO MAKE THE CONNECTION
- Share quality content regularly
- Be contact-able (I know, not a real word)
- Promote repeat business
- Encourage Word-of-Mouth
- Media credibility
In addition to the useful information you produce in your blog posts, videos, articles, books and other online media content to highlight your expertise and attract potential clients, it is important to your credibility that your visitors see accurate, up-to-date information about you and a method to reach you. Nothing is more frustrating for a customer or prospect than to want to contact a business owner directly and not be able to find something as simple as a contact form on an entire website or blog.
On the flip side, once you deliver real value to your customers for their investment and show you care by keeping in touch and addressing their questions and concerns, not only will they be glad to purchase from you again, they will recommend you to others which will boost your credibility. Word of mouth marketing is powerful, and the very best word of mouth you can get is a happy customer who raves to everyone about their positive experience working with you and signifies how much they trust you.
My favorite authority tactic (but, of course 😎 ) is to get implied third party endorsement through media mentions, quotes and features from respected media outlets that you can display along side your customer testimonials and quality online content.(Contact me here for help with this.)
Online hype may lead you to believe there’s an “easy button” for everything, but in my view, developing a stellar reputation for quality and service takes time and vigilance. You want a system with elements that all work together to position you as the “go-to” authority in your niche,. No one online authority tactic will make or break your credibility, but one false move could open a floodgate of online complaints and negative reviews that quickly topple your carefully constructed expert image. As anyone who’s gone to high school knows, a reputation lost is very hard to regain.
Make a commitment to hone all aspects of your online presence to show you’re a trustworthy credible authority in your field and an expert worth doing business with. You don’t want to leave anything to chance in showcasing your abilities and value, if you plan to stand out from the competition online successfully.
(NOTE: I don’t design websites but know many quality people who do. What I can do is help you assess what you have and what you want and construct a custom strategy blueprint to help you build your digital assets and gain media authority.)