Message & Media: Credibility and Trust
It doesn't matter what the economic climate is; it's always important to reassure those doing business with you. Customers need to be reassured the company they know and love hasn't and won't be going out of business, while prospects—always the skeptics—need to be convinced about your stability, reliability and commitment to quality before they'll do business with you.
Here are tools for creating marketing messages that build credibility and nurture lasting customer relationships.
• Your Guarantee: Most companies have a guarantee that assures satisfaction but then don't promote it adequately, especially to non- customers. Why is a guarantee important? It's the insurance policy you offer first-time triers. It addresses the buying objection, "I don't know you; why should I trust you?"
Keep your guarantee simple, strong and straightforward, and don't let your legal staff fill it with fine print, asterisks and qualifying phrases. Check out your competitors' guarantees for what to say and what not to say. Look for holes in it that you can cover, and use them to differentiate your company. Some direct marketers even test guarantee statements.
Feature your guarantee in your direct mail, e-mails, as well as on Web pages, product packaging, package inserts, shipping cartons, statements, invoices, even receipts. Your guarantee is the handshake that can seal the deal.
• Customer Reviews: Both customers and prospects—consumer and B-to-B—rely on product reviews to make smarter buying decisions based on objective, user-provided evaluations. Capture customer reviews online; then use them in all your media messages—space ads, e-mails, Web pages, direct mail, even radio and TV.
The most credible reviews address both positive and negative product and performance characteristics. It's also helpful to use an easily scannable rating system such as Amazon.com's one through five stars.
• Ratings/Awards: Has your company or product been recognized with an unbiased rating or review from a local newspaper or nationally recognized organization such as J.D. Power and Associates? If so, find out how you can use this recognition in all types of media and your marketing messages.
For example, if you're an airline recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration for surpassing safety standards and on-time performance, don't assume a potential traveler will click five times to find this info buried in your Web site. It's one thing to earn the accolades and another to maximize their marketing value by making them easily accessible.