Is Building Business Credibility Part of Your Business Development Plan?
Posted on 16th March 2023 at 12:06
Why building business credibility is crucial to your value proposition and executing your business strategy.
Credibility must be part of your business development plan if you are going to execute your business strategy successfully.
How does credibility fit into your business plan?
One of the Four Pillars of The Entrepreneurial Scale Up System is Execution. Essentially, Execution is about making sure you’re carrying out all the ‘right’ business development activities to create a predictable stream of focused clients.
Guiding you in creating this predictable stream will be your Value Proposition. Credibility is one of the seven key elements of your Value Proposition. In fact, it is the element which underpins all the others.
A reminder about your Value Proposition
A good Value Proposition will synthesise the compelling reasons why someone should buy from you. Done well, it will form the basis of all communications and is also an essential briefing document for use internally and with external agencies.
You should be able to put together a Value Proposition from what you know about your customers and your offerings – but it makes sense to test it with a few customers if you can. Sometimes you will find that what you thought was really strong is not actually that important to a customer, and vice versa. Ask a few of your best customers if they will help you validate your proposition.
A Value Proposition consists of seven key elements:
1. The target audience – Who is it for?
2. Their needs – Which of their needs are you trying to address?
3. The features – What is the service or product, and what does it ‘contain’?
4. The benefits – In relation to the needs, what are the benefits you are offering?
5. The primary alternatives – What or who could they use instead of you?
6. Differentiators – What makes you different from the alternatives?
7. Credibility – What proof can you offer that gives people confidence in your claims?
Credibility unlocks all of the other elements in your Value Proposition. It doesn’t matter how well you know your audience and their needs or how much better your service is than your competitors’ services if your credibility is lacking.
What is credibility in business?
Credibility is being believed or trusted. In business, credibility is all about your audience. If you can build credibility with those who are aware of you and your service, then they are more likely to choose you over your competitors. They will believe and trust that you can deliver what you say, like no other provider.
Credibility has an essential role in business; it can bridge what I like to call ‘the chasm’. The chasm is part of the adoption curve which is the cumulative rate at which a population adopts a product, service, or piece of technology.
Business Credibility and the Adoption Curve
The adoption curve begins with the innovators, Initially it is the innovators who try the product of service, then the early adopters, moving to the early majority, followed by the late majority and then the laggards.
The adoption curve is normally shown as a smooth bell curve. However, the illustration below demonstrates a more typical journey of adoption and highlights the point at which many of us struggle: the chasm.
The shark-infested chasm lies between the early adopters and the early majority. This is where many small and medium-sized businesses get stuck, causing them to plateau and fail to scale beyond.
Think about it for a moment. You start your business and find a couple of early clients who are prepared to give you a go. Maybe they are people you know, or simply people prepared to take a chance on you.
They may not be your dream clients but they get you started. You do a reasonable job with them, maybe hone your skills or your product a bit, and get a few more clients. These new clients may be more like the kind of clients you’re really after and they get you a bit further towards the kind of business you are trying to build.
But, what we all really want is to break into the early majority. If you think about it, they have a different set of priorities where avoiding risk is higher up the list. Your innovators and early adopters are more interested in bright shiny new things and the possibilities that your offering may bring. But the early majority are more concerned with what might happen if it doesn’t live up to its promise.
They are probably already more heavily invested in an alternative solution and, therefore, moving to you would be a more significant change. They are thinking about the risk, the cost, the energy and process required to make that change.
Yes, the early majority want to know from you that your solution works - but they also want more reassurance that they won’t be making a mistake by moving to you.
This is where credibility is crucial. It gives the early majority confidence; they see that others have been there before and had great experiences. They see that you are trusted by people or organisations that they already respect.
And this is where many of us get stuck. We attract sufficient clients to survive but not to break through to the quantity and quality of clients we really want. We feel like we are having to keep pushing the boulder up the hill to attract clients.
What you may do at this point is look inward and redesign the offering or decide that your marketing tactics are wrong, but many times it is because the credibility amongst your audience isn’t quite there. It’s the disconnect between what you are saying and your audience’s perception of your credibility that is leaving you stuck in the chasm.
Which business development activities build credibility?
So, now you know how important credibility is for growing your business, how do you actually go about building credibility?
A Forbes article featured 15 experts sharing how small businesses can build their credibility. There are some common themes which you can benefit from. I’ve summarised them here for you.
Do what you say you will do, and do it well
Many of the insights on business credibility came down to one key strategy: deliver well on what you promised to do.
The majority of the experts focused on the need to do good work, be consistent and stay true to your word. The result is that you gain client loyalty, client longevity and clients who will talk about how incredible you and your service or product is.
You are only credible if you are true to your word, time and time again.
Take time to reflect: how consistently are you delivering your highest-quality work?
Ask for and share testimonials to build credibility
Testimonials, reviews or recommendations are essential to developing your credibility. But how often are you actually asking customers and clients for feedback? And if you do this, how often are you sharing their responses?
Make one of your business development activities to follow up on the responses you get because of your excellent, consistent, delivered as promised work. Case studies are an excellent way to do this. A BizSmart, we work with F8 Create in Worcester to produce regular case study videos. We’ve found they are even more powerful than written quotes placed on a website.
How well are you gathering and leveraging testimonials?
Be a thought leader
Create a platform to be visible. This could be by securing speaking engagements, contributing to conferences, delivering workshops, or being a guest on podcasts.
Why not create your own platform by starting your own podcast? Or you could publish articles, digital content or books. Have I mentioned that The Entrepreneurial ScaleUp System is available from all good online retailers!?
Leveraging podcasts is a great way to build credibility for your business and your expertise.
What are your current thought leadership activities?
Use PR to build credibility
Having a PR plan which will get you seen in papers or magazines, whether local or nationwide, is another strategy for building credibility through visibility.
PR is often misunderstood with business owners. It is not just about raising awareness by getting your name in print. It is about creating, establishing and reinforcing your company’s reputation and credibility. It is about controlling perceptions amongst your target audience and is quite different in purpose from general marketing. Marketing is about delivering leads; PR is about delivering minds.
There are many resources about pitching to journalists and how to create a story worthy of hitting the press.
Do you have a current PR strategy?
Collect bad customer stories
We’ve talked about collecting positive testimonials but you can learn a lot from paying attention to customer journeys which haven’t been so smooth.
This is an interesting twist building on the idea of ‘A Complaint is a Gift’ by Janelle Barlow. How you or your business deal with mistakes says a lot. If you can identify and rectify problems, you’ll not only earn the good will of your customers, you’ll grow a stronger business for the future.
What do you do with customer complaints or difficulties at the moment? How do you learn from them?
It’s not just your customers’ opinions which are valuable for building credibility. Praise and support from industry influencers, analysts, and peers is just as powerful.
Think about how you can interact with others in your industry. Many of the activities suggested around thought leadership can achieve this.
A word of caution here: make sure you align yourself with influential people who are also aligned with your values.
Is there a particular person you would love an endorsement from and how might you go about making that happen?
Have a professional website
Not only should your website look professional (it is your office and showroom rolled into one, after all) but it should also build your digital credibility.
Google values credibility. Its main goal is to share pages to its users which are relevant and have authority. Ensuring you have quality content, robust SEO, and a developed link network will all help Google recognise you as a credible website worthy of sharing with browsers.
Where in your business development plan is keeping your website up-to-date?
An example of building credibility in business
What does building credibility actually look like in action? Let’s take a look at SmartBoards®, just one of the services we provide:
In the last 5 years alone, we have worked with hundreds of business owners and assisted delivering an average increase in turnover of +29% and a 36% growth in profits within the first 12 months. This has given us a wealth of experiences from which to publish thought leadership insights.
So, in June 2021 we carried out a ‘ScaleUp Challenges’ survey and the data shows that in the last year (during the pandemic):
• Businesses on SmartBoards have increased headcount by 31.6% compared with the ‘control group’ average of +7.5%
• 43% of SmartBoard members report a greater than doubling of turnover since 3 years ago (control group = 30%)
• 52% of SmartBoard members showed growth in the last year (despite the pandemic) of more than 20% (control group = 34%)
Being able to produce a survey of this scale, let alone the great results it shows, helps to build the credibility of SmartBoards as a service and, therefore, BizSmart as a company.
We also use video case studies featuring different clients using different aspects of our services, highlighting the outcomes they have achieved. These case studies are also developed into press releases and social media posts.
Plus, the publication of The Entrepreneurial ScaleUp System book adds to this wealth of credibility building.
So, you now know that credibility-building, as part of bolstering your Value Proposition, should be included in your business development activities. It’s necessary for the successful Execution of your business growth.
Think about what this means to you and any key takeaways for your business.
Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. What do they need to give them confidence that what you say is true?
Evidence of success, case studies and testimonials are clearly great, but many businesses do this so how can you make yours even more impactful? What other business development activities can you use to build credibility?
Are you wondering if the Execution of your activities is supporting the growth and scalability of your business? Take our FREE Execution Level Up Scorecard today. You’ll get a personalised report and a free copy of the highly-rated book: The Entrepreneurial ScaleUp System (only pay P&P). Here’s the link: https://executionhabits.scoreapp.com
Tagged as: Execution
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