Trust is crucial for the success of your startup, perhaps even more powerful than marketing or sales. With no track record of success, many startup entrepreneurs find it challenging to compete with established companies. Even if you started your endeavor with noble intentions, prospective clients and customers will most likely have some doubt to overcome before doing business with you.
In order to clearly explain to your stakeholders who you are, why they should believe you, and what you can do for them, you need to secure a trustworthiness platform to support your case. Here are strategies to help you navigate through the challenges and get employees, customers, and other stakeholders to trust you.
Why Startups Need Trust
No matter which market you are in, the startup arena is a crowded place. If you can’t establish credibility, you will probably fall by the wayside. Anyone who has managed a successful startup knows the success of a startup in the early phase lies mainly on their founders’ stories. For this reason, it is crucial for founders to build on qualities that inspire trust such as strong communication, passion, genuine relationship, honesty, accountability, respect, and determination.
Don’t Overdo the Ads
While trust is essential for the survival of a startup, most business owners rarely take time to establish a solid foundation and define their brand. Instead of building positive relationships and lines of communication, many new startups quickly get lost in marketing. Unless you have built a strong connection with your prospects, your target base is unlikely to see value in your marketing efforts.
Many people are fatigued by advertisers that hit them over and over with the same pitch before any awareness or trust is built. There is a better way, and it starts with building trust. Allow your prospects the opportunity to learn more about you. Give them opportunities to review what others are saying about you BEFORE you share a price, discount offer, or push them to “buy now.”
Set Credibility Goals
Just like your business has milestones and business goals, you also need to set goals for your credibility. You probably already know how success looks like for your business in a year’s time because of the time you took to define and work towards it. Do the same for your company’s reputation. Find out the metrics that gauge how your company is progressing towards achieving a respected status in the industry. Is it winning an award? Is it being covered in a respected publication? Or is it being invited to speak at an industry conference? Whatever the answer is, establish your reputation goals early on. Describe them conclusively, link them to your overall business goals, and set deadlines for achieving each milestone.
Create Mutually Beneficial Relationships
All your stakeholders want to justify their decision to work with you. To help them see you as valuable takes more than clichés and marketing, though. They can get easily fatigued if they feel the relationship is not mutually beneficial. Your prospects should understand the value you are offering. Likewise, employees should feel proud of being associated with you and take ownership of the company. This shows the level of trust you have in your team, as well as introducing the element of accountability. In order for other people to trust you, you also have to trust others. If someone makes a mistake, don’t jump to a conclusion about their competence.
Share Your Success Stories
Apart from building a genuine relationship, another easy way of building trust is using social proof. Create testimonials and case studies about real stories of people who have worked with you before. According to a TechValidate study, more than half of marketers rated this strategy as extremely effective. Even if you are just starting your company, you have a track record of success gained from your previous occupations.
Another way to leverage on social proof is to use your partner’s reputation to your startup’s advantage. Emphasize on the connection and expertise of the people or companies who are related to you. It could be as simple as getting your partners to endorse you on LinkedIn or spread a word about your business on social media.
Focus on Your Most Important Communities
Most startups want to see themselves featured prominently in mainstream media. While the goal is achievable, you will build trust faster if you focus on quality coverage in the niches most relevant to your business. Tech startups, for instance, can boost their reputation more quickly by engaging tech audiences that have a keen interest in their product category.
Trust is not only the foundation of meaningful relationships, but it’s also the basis for business success. As a startup, establishing immediate trust among your audience may seem to be out of reach. However, if you have a plan for strengthening credibility and follow the above strategies, you can eliminate trust barriers and build a broad customer base that looks forward to working with you.
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