Beyond Testimonials: 9 Ways to Build Credibility

Credibility is one of the most important “intangibles” a business has. Traditionally, business owners built credibility over time through repeated positive interactions with their customers or clients-usually through face-to-face meetings or telephone conversations. But in today’s world, where business is often conducted virtually and trust levels are low across the board, credibility is often difficult to establish.

Many online business owners, particularly those in the information-marketing world, establish credibility by using testimonials from their clients. It’s an extremely effective technique because study after study shows that people most trust “someone like me.” In other words, a recommendation from a friend, family member or colleague is worth a lot more than a claim made by a company in marketing materials or during a sales pitch.

But testimonials are only one way of establishing credibility; they shouldn’t be the only method that you rely on. So here are 9 other techniques that can help boost your credibility and, in return, drive more sales.

1.) Before & After Photos. As we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words. Image consultants, organizational experts, general contractors and personal trainers use this technique all the time. But if you are a coach or consultant, think about what you do that can be shown visually. For example, has your client’s website or brand been completely transformed, illustrating the business makeover you helped orchestrate? Or maybe you’ve helped a speaker go from presenting to a room of 25 people to 2,500. Wouldn’t a photo contrasting the before and after be powerful?

Hint: The key here is to think and plan ahead. When you bring on a new client, look for anything visual that you can capture to illustrate where they are now versus where they will be AFTER having worked with you.

2.) Video. With today’s handheld flip cameras and YouTube, anyone can create and post a video in minutes at virtually no cost. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million! Just look at the video posted above. This is from Blendtec’s brilliant “Will it blend?” campaign. How better to show the durability of a blender than tossing in things that should NEVER be blended – like an iPhone! (And hey, aren’t there times we’d all like to blend our darn cell phones to bits?!) But you don’t have to have a product to make use of video. In fact, video is one of the best ways to make an intangible service offering, such as your consulting or coaching process, more understandable.

3.) Accreditation, Certification or Degree. It’s one thing to call yourself an expert. It’s another thing entirely to PROVE that you’re an expert by completing an accreditation, certification or degree program. Have you ever wondered what those letters are after my name? ABC stands for Accredited Business Communicator by the International Association of Business Communicators and APR stands for Accredited in Public Relations from the Public Relations Society of America. Both take a significant investment of experience and demonstrated knowledge in PR, marketing and communications. Having a third party acknowledge this expertise increases my credibility with clients considerably.

4.) Media Coverage. So many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t appreciate the value of media relations because it doesn’t necessarily translate immediately into sales. But one thing it most certainly does boost is your credibility. When you’re quoted in an article about your area of knowledge, it immediately positions you as an expert. You can also write articles and submit them to publications. Once you get coverage, be sure to make the most of it. Tweet it. Post updates to Facebook and LinkedIn and post it on your website.