Message & Media: Credibility and Trust
• Customer Service: When customers have questions, they look for your 800-number so they can be reassured by a real live person. Don't hide your customer service number. Make it big, bold and easy to find. Then train your customer service reps to be top-notch customer consultants offering candid and reliable advice.
• Memberships/Affiliations: Having the DMA, Better Business Bureau or some other professional affiliation logo on your site adds credibility. You've already paid the membership dues; now maximize the benefits you get from your membership.
• About Us: A good place to educate customers and prospects about who you are as a company is the "about us" page on your Web site. A customer survey will tell you what people are looking for when they go to this page. As part of a recent online writing assignment, I was told visitors to a particular B-to-B Web site look for how long the company has been in business and the breadth of its client base. Those two points are now featured in the opening sentences of the "about us" content.
• Client Lists: Should you mention clients by name or include a client list? A partial or complete client list demonstrates depth and breadth of experience. But make sure you have permission to use a client company's name. If you don't want to name names but geographic distribution matters, show a map with client locations indicated.
When launching my own Web site, I took the advice of Jeanne Jennings, an online direct marketing consultant and favorite colleague. Jennings took one look at my client list and said, "Show them all." Here's why. During my career, I've written for companies and brands that start with every letter of the alphabet. While I'd never given it any thought, Jennings said showing clients from A to Z was a quick way to establish my broad experience.
• Specificity Counts: As with all direct marketing copy, when your goal is to reassure and build credibility, be specific. This is another one of those small details that makes a big difference. For example, don't round off numbers—1,157 is more believable than 1,100 or 1,150. Saying you've been in business 23 years is more credible than more than 20. And instead of stating, "We're a full-service organization," also list your services, and provide a brief benefit statement for each. Specifics build credibility and trust.
Pat Friesen is a direct response copywriter and creative strategist writing copy for online and offline media. She can be reached at (913) 341-1211, firstname.lastname@example.org and by visiting www.patfriesen.com.