Small Business Marketing: How to Build Trust

by Halisi

Maybe this title is a bit misleading.  Perhaps it should read: One way to build trust.  In any event, there’s one thing that I’ve noticed in clients that have come to me lately wanting to build their client base.  None of them, not one of them, has a blog or a blog page on their site.What’s the big deal?

When you’re marketing a service, it’s a little harder for customers to evaluate the value of the service as well as your ability to deliver.  After all, few of us choose a doctor without first asking friends and family – the same is true for choosing a mechanic.  Yet church marketers, non-profit marketers, those who offer everything from relationship coaching to massage therapy, expect people to choose them based on their website or brochure.

Aren’t testimonials enough?

There is no doubt that word of mouth is one of the most powerful forms of promotion that you can use.  However if you want to grab customers from outside of your base contacts you’re going to need some proof that you are who you say you are.  Testimonials on your site work the same way as a letter of recommendation or a reference on your resume.  Everyone can find a few people to say something good about them.  Reviews on third party sites are better – because the impression is that they are not solicited.  However, people still want to know why the reviewers are saying what they’re saying.

Why Blogs work

It is a fact that when people decide that they need a service they will do some of their research online.  If your name or firm comes up in their research pursuits organically (i.e. not from a paid advertisement)  that adds to the perception of your expertise.  Search engines tend to prowl sites that are updated often more than they do static sites.  It would not be unusual for your blog to come up on the first page of a search quickly – especially if your subject matter is unique.  Also, most blog web templates have good search engine optimization (SEO) code written in.

Now your potential customers can read posts that you’ve written and get an idea about your level of expertise.  They may also get an idea of your thought process, ethics, values, etc.  Yes, you are giving away information however if the person reading your posts did not feel that they needed an expert – that they could do it themselves – then they wouldn’t be researching vendors/organizations in the first place.

I don’t have time to write

Make the time – because in 2010 – in the age of engagement; you cannot afford not to write.   I now have a church as one of my clients and I’m trying to convince the ministry leaders that they need to create and maintain a blog.   I’m suggesting that each of their major departments or ministries has its own blog.  Non-profits need to think about this too.  This particular church has a rather large congregation – about 1500 members.  There are dozens of ministries going on at any particular moment.  However, if you have not participated, an announcement read during service is not necessarily going to move you to action.  If a member can go onto the women’s ministry blog, for example, and read about what they do and what they are about in detail – that would definitely be a painless way to see if this is something that you wanted to spend your time participating in.  For outside marketing efforts, nothing can be more personal than the choice of a church.  Being able to read writings from the leaders would be a good tool to evaluate compatibility.  The same is true when choosing whether to donate time or money to a non-profit.

Spend 30-60 minutes per day writing – practice makes perfect.  That might equal 2-3 posts per week.  You should aim to post no less than 2 times per week.

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