Top 12 Marketing Secrets for Filling the Credibility Gap

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By Hector Cisneros

In today’s competitive business world, you need an edge to stay ahead of the competition. More importantly, you need to be able to give prospects a reason to choose you versus others in your industry.  The reason people choose a company or professional is due to their reputation. Trust becomes the determining factor. Think about it. Most people do their shopping with companies they trust. They buy products because those products have proven themselves to meet the consumers' standards of quality and performance. Sure, people will buy something just on price, but if that product doesn’t meet or exceed their expectations, they will never buy that product again. The same is true of professionals and the service provider industry as well. Trust trumps all other factors short of budgetary means. In this week’s episode of Working the Web to Win, we will explore how addressing a business’ credibility or professional reputation can make a significant difference when it comes doing business. We will look at ten often overlooked elements of reputation that can sway a prospect towards or away from your products or services, without you even realizing it.


Early on, when I started my old company called Website Know How, I noticed that after cobbling together a website and social pages, that I had not really paid close attention to branding my image. This came to light when a prospect at the time told me they had heard of me and were looking for me on the web. The prospect stated that they found several pages that had my name on them, but they were confused because they did not look the same (branded look and feel) and did not actually mention my name. This taught me a valuable lesson. Make sure you brand the pages as closely as the different social nets allow. Also make sure you provide profile information about yourself that is also consistent.

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Around the same time that this happened, I was also writing my first book. I had joined a BNI writers' support group provided by BNI Founder Ivan Miser. His coaching was invaluable. One of the things I remember him saying was that you should regularly do a Google search on your name, to see what was out there and to see how many hits your name was getting. I have a fairly unique name (or so I thought), so I started to do regular searches on my name. Lo and behold, I discovered dozens of people who had similar names to my own. That could confuse prospects who were vetting me or looking for my profile.

This is the point in time that I started adding my middle name to everything and to use it in all of my social profiles. I also added my profile picture to everything as well to help differentiate and make it easier for customers and prospects to recognize the “real Hector Enrique Cisneros” from all the other H Cisneros profiles out there (real or fake or imagined).

This brings me to my point. Make sure all social profiles on the web are fully fledged and include your full name, contact information, profile picture and business information. Leave out any sensitive information and keep private your personal family information to share with close friends and family. When I say all social sites, I mean Facebook, Twitter. Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Blogger, YouTube, and any other social site you may be using. This also includes web pages, photo sites (like Google Photo), business profile directory sites like merchant circle, Alignable, Yelp, Angie's List, YP.com, etc. all need to be fully fledged and branded as well. Not doing so just leads to confusion and lost business.

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On top of what I have mentioned so far, a business owner and professional who works for corporations needs to proactively work on building a positive reputation through acts of charity and deeds of community service. They also need to proactively cultivate a loyal fan base and to encourage them to be vocal about their enthusiasm for them, their business and products or customer service. Not following up and encouraging your fan base to be vocal means that the only ratings and testimonials you will receive will be negative. I don’t care how great a company is, eventually they will make someone unhappy. Unhappy customers are ten times as likely to complain vocally and overtly on social media than happy customers are to sing your praises. And just in case you're missing my point, a predominance of negative social press can be a death nail to most businesses.

Here are 12 must do practices that every professional and business owner needs to engage in if they want to maintain a positive reputation and fill the credibility gap.

12 Must Do Practices to Build Trust and Credibility.
  1. Proactive management of testimonials, ratings, and endorsements -  Every business and professional must proactively elicit and cultivate positive reviews, ratings, and testimonials. There must be a process in place to make this happen or it won’t!
  2. Unique Authoritative Content - Here is where you show off your expertise by providing
    Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
    high quality, unique, timely, relevant, useful, educational or entertaining information. This can be provided by blogging, article writing, eBook distribution, white paper distribution, vlogging (video blogging), WebTV production, Internet radio show, podcasting, other means. Not having unique, authoritative content produced in your name means you’re riding someone else’s coattails. Sharing someone else’s quality material will garner pageviews and clicks but it will never add to your credibility.
  3. Provide a branded look, feel and consistent message across all platforms. It is imperative that you provide a consistent look and feel across all of your web properties and marketing materials. This means all web properties and analog locations showing a consistent logo, color scheme and as close as possible look and feel, even when the social nets provide vastly different criteria for their layout.
  4. Professional but focused – Your web property information needs to be focused, easy to understand and navigate. Make sure you only have one main subject to a page with the URL, page title and content all optimized for the same key phrase and subject. One main subject only!
  5. The Five Must Have “On-page Elements” – Every web page needs to make it easy for the client to do business with you. Make it easy for prospects and clients to find contact info – phone number, mailing address, and a map to your location. Always include a call to action and compelling offer. Make sure you have a short video above the fold, providing your USP (unique selling proposition), a testimonials and actual written correspondence singing your praises.
  6. Be Widely Connected – Make sure you are widely connected to other authoritative businesses and professional via website back-links and the top social networks. Also make sure all of your web properties are cross-linked to each other, creating a cross-pollination effect for Google.
  7. Broad-based Distribution – Make sure you can achieve board distribution of all of your marketing and social messages, via either your social networks or through someone else’s social network. This will increase your Page-views, comments, and reposts - for branding, conversion, and engagement. This allows you to get exposure, generate traffic, and improve ranking without purchasing pay per click services. Ultimately, this will increase your brand and your reputation (but only if you're providing high quality, high production value authoritative content).
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  8. Consistency -  I can’t overemphasize the importance of consistency. The regularity of
    your marketing produces a trust factor in and of itself. Producing regular, timely posting of unique quality and relevant content creates a relationship between you and your followers. If you coupled consistency with testing and measuring to determine what works best, you will maximize return on investment.
  9. Persistence – All too often businesses fail because they did not have the staying power to survive the initial perils that confront a startup business. Make sure that “Never give up” is part of your mantra. “Measure all your Efforts,” “Learn from your Experience, Both Good and Bad” and “Be Willing to do What Ever it Takes” to adapt to what the market needs,”. This will serve you and your business through both good and bad times.
  10. Strive to Evolve. Always strive to stretch your knowledge and capabilities. Strive to improve yourself, and to help those around you to do the same. Make each year’s performance better, not just the same old thing. Work to improve your product, customer service and to make it easy for a prospect and customer to do business with you. Strive to take the risk out of the transaction for the prospect and customer. This should be your goal, even if you're winning awards and are at the top of your industry.
  11. Engage in internet searches for your business and your personal name. This will show you what others are finding and reading. Make sure what is showing up is positive and is not confusing. Find ways to differentiate yourself and learn how to make it easy for others to identify you verses others who have similar names.
  12. Engage in Self-evaluations of your Contribution to Society – Create a checklist to determine how you well you’re doing in your industry. Are you producing high quality content? Are you providing support for the community on a regular basis? Are you engaged in charitable events and organizations where you give of your time and resources? Do you provide mentoring of others? Creating a self-evaluation checklist can keep you on track when it comes to filling the credibility gap.
I have discussed more than a dozen factors that directly affects your ability to build and maintain trust and credibility with prospects and clients. I want to encourage our readers to implement these elements in their lives, in their businesses, on their web properties and on any marketing materials they produce. Building a solid reputation takes time, hard work and a strong desire to contribute to society. It is my hopes that you will share this information with your peers, family, and friends so that they too will learn these 12 trust and credibility building practices. Also, don’t forget to take the time to leave us a comment on this topic.

That's my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.

In this article, I have discussed more than a dozen factors that directly affects your ability to build and maintain trust and credibility with prospects and clients. I want to encourage our readers to implement these elements in their lives, in their businesses, on their web properties and on any marketing materials they produce. It is my hopes that you will share this information with your peers, family, and friends and that you will take the time to leave us a comment on this topic.
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Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on BlogTalkRadio.com, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”  

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