Category: credibility


Writing Case Studies

Case studies have an advantage over other marketing collateral you might create: they involve a third party proving your message for you. If done correctly, they’re the ultimate credibility builder and deserve to be prominently placed on your website and your other marketing materials.

Case studies are, in essence, customer success stories. So you should write them like any other story. They should have a beginning, middle, and end. The featured client should have a clearly-defined business problem, with obstacles recognizable to your audience. And your company is the hero that swoops in and saves the day.

Keep case studies as simple – and as short – as possible. No more than 750 words is ideal. Use pull quotes, bullet lists, and section headers to make it easier to scan. Instead of stock photos or clipart, ask the client for images that highlight their product or service.

Even if the focus is technical solutions, case studies can still be engaging and compelling – it’s all in the presentation. Charts showing data are great, but don’t go overboard. Ultimately, there should be just enough information to tell the story clearly and succinctly.

David's blog

Do White Papers Belong Behind a Sign-Up Form?

You’re offering a white paper or another type of download on your website. It’s full of valuable, compelling information, and most of your prospects would be happy to read it. Should you put this piece of content behind a sign-up form, in which the prospect is forced to give you their email address?

In general, the answer is no.

On a certain level, it makes sense: you’re providing something of value, and in return, shouldn’t you get to add a name to your list of prospective customers?

Here’s the key: you’re providing this content to demonstrate that you know your stuff. It adds credibility to your organization, and it may lead to the prospect becoming a customer.

You don’t want to place an obstacle in front of a prospect getting something that makes you look good.

If you want a prospect's email in order to send them your newsletter, always ask their permission first. And if that white paper is high quality, it'll be that much more likely that the prospect seeks out your newsletter, your expertise, or your services.

David's blog

Credibility Tips and Tricks - Part 3

To market effectively, a company must connect with its audience. This connection has very little to do with the size of company, and everything to do with the credibility of the company.

This week we're looking at more tactics you can use to boost your company's credibility.

Take stock of your appearance

If you're committed to invest the time in the message, pay attention to the way you're presenting it.
 

Poor Packaging = Poor Credibility

A website in desperate need of updating, amateur design or writing, and poorly executed campaigns all take away from the credibility you have invested so much to achieve.

Make a list of all your marketing collateral and take a hard look at your presentation. Consider updating or enhancing these pieces and start tackling them one by one. Work on unifying your message and brand.


Use public relations

It's difficult for most businesses to make the news. Customer wins don't attract much attention, nor do new hires, new offices, or certifications. While these accomplishments certainly have their place in search engine marketing, major publications or news outlets are less likely to pay attention.

To secure your spot in the media, look for existing opportunities that attract PR such as speaking opportunities, awards, and events.

The book Get Slightly Famous by Steven Van Yoder is an excellent resource on the topic, full of great tips on attracting powerful, positive PR.
 

Join associations

Associations can give you both validity and access.Before you invest in an association you should have an objective and do your research. Are you looking for an association with speaking opportunities? A place to publish your content online or in newsletters? Would you like events to attend or sponsor? Even the largest associations may not meet your needs, so it's important to find those that do.

To help secure opportunities, create a portfolio listing speeches you've made, topics you can lend your expertise to, and articles you've written.
 

Produce multimedia

Multimedia is an excellent way to allow your audience to connect with you through audio and visual methods. Using tools such as videos, podcasts, and webinars enhances your online presence and credibility.
 

Be helpful

Credibility aside, we should be as helpful as possible in all areas of our lives -- personally and professionally. But since we're talking about credibility in business here, highlight your activities in the media and in your own marketing whenever possible.

How can you share expertise? You could provide free business builder seminars to local roundtables, mentor students, help non-profits in your community, and offer advice on social media. Whether you search for existing opportunities or create your own, just be sure to enjoy spreading a little goodwill when you get the chance.
 

David's blog

Credibility Tips and Tricks - Part 2

Credibility: it's the reason your customers and prospects listen to you. This week we're looking at additional specific ways you can build credibility for your business.

The "Non-Newsletter"

Arguably, the most widely-used (and often, poorly used) credibility vehicle is the newsletter. Meeting the need for multiple relevant topics on a regular basis is a challenge for most small marketing teams. As a result, these teams produce quick "filler" content which isn't relevant to the audience.

The solution: switch your newsletter to a "Non-Newsletter" and send a single-topic business bulletin. Create one powerful article each month and stop there. Put any specific info you want to share -- offers, seminars, whitepapers, etc. -- in a sidebar or callout area.
 

Affiliations and Awards

Affiliations and awards are strong elements to have in your credibility portfolio. They include:

  • Industry associations
  • Relevant partnerships
  • Chambers of commerce

Make sure your affiliations or memberships are listed in as many places as possible (for example, your email footer or your home page). Have a separate page on your site to list all partnerships and affiliations and make sure you're cross-linking to each of them.

Business awards take a little work, but they can add tremendous credibility and bring media attention to your company. Research your opportunities in advance so you're not scrambling to meet submission deadlines.

To find award opportunities:

  • Search online for phrases such as "local business awards" or industry-name awards.
  • Search association sites for awards.
  • Check your competition to see if they've won any awards.
     

Experts - the Halo Effect

You don't have to be an expert to add credibility to your marketing. It's perfectly acceptable to find materials from outside experts to make your point, address a customer challenge, or help your prospect make an educated decision. You can share a book, a blog post, an article from a business magazine -- anything that brings value to your recipient.

Some of these tactics have an associated "per touch" cost so reserve them for top prospects or in exchange for information. For example, if your visitor completes a survey, you could give them access to a whitepaper from Harvard Business Review.

The Internet offers multiple sources to find your experts. Since your goal is to establish your credibility, make sure your source is trusted. Check out news sites, major publications, or sites packed with industry-specific articles such as Harvard Business Review, or BNET.
 

Surveys

Surveys can help with credibility because they're exclusive, they're potentially valuable to the media, and they can position your company as an expert (e.g., "a survey conducted by...").

Try it out first. Consider a "lite" version of a survey in your newsletters or on your website. Ask a question or two and report the answers -- along with your thoughts or solutions -- the following month.
 

Next week, in part 3 of this post, we'll take a look at more credibility tactics, including PR and brand appearance.
 

David's blog

Credibility Tips and Tricks - Part 1

Without credibility, the best marketing campaign in the world won't make any difference. Last week we looked at the 'why' of credibility. This week, we look at the 'how' -- specific ways you can build trust with your prospects and customers.

Case Studies

Case studies are an effective marketing tool because much like other testimonial tactics, you're letting a third party prove your message for you. Case studies instantly produce more credibility than any marketing collateral you create yourself.

For the most powerful case studies, keep it simple and short. No more than 750 words is ideal. Use pull out quotes and bullet lists to make it easier to scan. Instead of stock photos or clipart, ask your client for images that highlight their product or service.
 

Quotes/Testimonials

They're concise, compelling and extremely useful. A simple quote from your customer is a direct and powerful statement of credibility. Don't be afraid to ask your customers, as most are happy to oblige. Let them speak for you.

Key questions to ask:

  • Who will you ask?
  • How will you ask?
  • Where will you put them?
  • Should you categorize them?

In every marketing activity -- from telemarketing to direct marketing, events, tradeshows, and online endeavors -- consider where a testimonial might fit.

For example, instead of using stock images for your tradeshow booth, print customer quotes on posters or directly on your backdrop. If you're planning an upgrade to your website, integrate quotes into all your pages, not just a running list of testimonials confined to one page.

Since most prospects start in skeptical mode, use testimonials to your advantage. Open a quote with something like "I didn't think we could actually decrease production line overhead until..."
 

Visuals

This is marketing after all, and visuals are important. Along with your own logo and images, utilize client logos and images. They don't need to be famous because they're already known to others in their industry -- your prospects. This, combined with testimonials and case studies, will increase the value of your third party references.
 

Articles

Well-written articles will position you as the expert in your prospect's industry and show how you can help them solve their challenges. Many marketers hesitate on this one, knowing that the experts in their company rarely have the the time or skills to create an effective piece.

Outsource is not a dirty word. Hiring a professional writer for your marketing pieces is an excellent solution to not only take the burden off your internal resources, but to impress your audience with a first-class presentation.

You'll need to gather your internal minds to decide on the topics and framework, then let your freelance writer interview, research and write.

Where do I get ideas for articles?
  • Most importantly -- from your own clients and prospects. What are they asking you? What are their concerns? Have conversations that clue you in to what your targets really want to know.
  • Look to industry groups and associations. What are they writing and blogging about? Check out First Research (www.firstresearch.com) for call preparation reports and great information on industry issues and challenges.
What should I write about?
  • Business-builder topics such as:
  • Managing your business
  • How-to articles (such as how to market in a down economy)
  • Book reviews. Check with the publisher to see if you can integrate some points from the book in your personal pieces
  • 'Tips and Tricks' pieces

And when you invest in professionally-written materials like articles or whitepapers, be sure to use them liberally.

Next week, part 2 of this post, where we look at more ways to boost credibility, including newsletters and multimedia.
 

David's blog

The Credibility Factor

Effective marketing involves much more than overpriced ads and flashy design. There's one important element that's so behind-the-scenes that many companies overlook it completely: the credibility factor.

Credibility Defined

  1. Capable of being believed; believable: a credible statement
  2. Corthy of belief or confidence; trustworthy: a credible witness

These are some powerful words -- capable, believable, confidence, trustworthy -- and all are necessary ingredients for a successful marketing recipe.
 

Credibility on Any Budget

To market effectively, a company must connect with its target audience. This connection has very little to do with how large or small the company is, and everything to do with the company's credibility.

It's no secret that businesses and individuals buy from those they trust. If you've established your credibility, you've opened the door and given people a reason to listen to you. Without it, all the marketing money in the world can't save you.

Let's think big for a moment. Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and Wal-Mart are major players in their respective markets. When they talk, we take notice. Why? Because they've established the credibility it takes for people to instantly recognize their brand and feel safe buying their products or services.

Smaller companies may never reach this level of mass brand recognition and instead need to rely on credibility that comes through other messages, such as:

  • Your experience
  • Your expertise
  • Your service
  • Your customers

This is not a 'second best' effort to establish credibility. Within B2B marketing, the talking about the positive experiences of your customers is one of the strongest messages you can send.

To establish credibility in your marketing plan, make sure you:

Plan, plan, plan

Knowing precisely how you'll execute the credibility factor in your marketing is as important as the overall strategy itself.

Use it everywhere

Don't limit this valuable message to a page on your website. Use it wherever your customers might see it.

Without credibility, your marketing efforts are substantially weakened. Next week, we'll look at specific tips and tricks you can use to boost your company's credibility.
 

David's blog

Blocking and Tackling

Sports analogies are common in business but one of my all time favorites is comparing business and marketing fundamentals with football fundamentals.  All of us that are familiar with American football know that you can have a great quarterback, but if you can't block and tackle it doesn't much matter.

Focus makes everything in marketing easier, messaging (no more mushy general messaging geared to no one in particular), differentiation (how can you be different when you are the same as everyone), credibility (what experiences do you have that qualify you as an expert), unique selling proposition (can you demonstrate your uniqueness in every product you sell?), and online marketing (what is it that you really do?).

If you run into trouble with your business plan, you should ask yourself if you've lost focus, if you don't know the answer to that question ask a client "what is it that we do that helps you sleep at night"? The answer should always relate to your business focus, if not you may need to tweak your marketing.

Focus is the blocking and tackling machine that will drive your business to success (please notice I'm resisting carrying the metaphor too far by not saying over the goal line!).
 

eric's blog