There are things your business is doing – or not doing – that automatically make people think less of your company.
The internet, airwaves and print publications are oversaturated with content and advertisements. For every problem you have, at least 10 companies claim to have the best solution.
People don’t know who to believe. They don’t know who to trust. They’re apprehensive and skeptical of everyone.
When you do something, neglect something, or present your company in a way that tarnishes your credibility, even in the slightest way, you give someone a reason to look elsewhere.
Credibility is everything. It takes a lot of time to establish and a lifetime to maintain.
Unfortunately, it only takes a split second to damage your credibility and undo that hard work. And the damage may be permanent.
Here are a few ways you could be shooting yourself in the foot and doing a big favor for your competitors.
1) Your website looks like you got it out of a Cracker Jack box.
You’ve probably heard a statistic or two about how long it takes website visitors to form an opinion of your brand. According to research from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, it takes two-tenths of a second.
Not two seconds. Two-tenths of a second.
If your website is poorly designed, looks amateurish or doesn’t adapt well to smaller mobile devices (responsive design, people!), it’ll take visitors a fraction of a second to question your credibility.
By the way, I know WordPress and other platforms make it “easy” to set up your own website. But unless you know how to tinker behind the scenes and make a generic theme your own, launching your own website is not a DIY project.
It’s not something that can be done well for free or a few hundred dollars. I’m sorry, but it’s just not.
If you don’t invest in a visually appealing, easy-to-navigate website with compelling content, you risk damaging your credibility.
2) You haven’t updated your social media profiles since Facebook landing pages were cool.
Twitter unveiled a radically different profile format a few months ago. Facebook announced similar changes around the same time.
If your cover/header image is grainy, or text is blocked by the profile photo that’s been moved, you’re telling the world that you’re too lazy to maintain your social media pages.
At the very least, you should post a clear stock photo that’s somehow connected with your brand while you design a brand-specific image to fit the new format.
3) The last time your blog was updated, I had a lot less gray hair.
That may be a little extreme. But you get my point. A blog that hasn’t been updated in months or even years is worse than having no blog at all.
If someone decides to check out your blog, they expect you to deliver something of value. Maybe they need help with something, or they want to learn more about what you and your company are all about.
Regardless of their reason for visiting, you’ve let them down. And disappointing people won’t help you establish your credibility.
4) You’re using an email address from a webmail provider.
Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and AOL email accounts are fine for personal use. When you put one of them on your website or business card, it looks unprofessional.
It could give the impression that your company is a fly-by-night outfit. At the very least, it makes you look like a small-time operation.
Most web hosting services provide a limited number of free email addresses with your website. Take 10 minutes and set it up.
5) You’re statistics have more holes than a golf course.
Did you realize 62 percent of all statistics used in marketing are either misleading or fake?
If that doesn’t blow you mind, try this one on for size. I just made up that statistic. Don’t bother looking it up.
Annoying, right? Imagine how you would feel if you spent time researching a business based on statistics provided by that business, only to find out those statistics were inaccurate or twisted like a pretzel.
When I was working in radio, every station claimed to be the top-rated station. Of course, one station was only number one with female truck drivers ages 55-65 from Sheboygan.
But they conveniently left out those details and tried to get you to advertise based only on the “number one” claim.
Very shady. And a credibility killer when the truth came out.
6) Your testimonials may as well be signed by John and Jane Doe.
Anonymous testimonials make BS meters dance like crazy. Even if the testimonial tells a compelling story, it’s worthless if it’s not attributed to a real person or organization.
The more specifically you can identify the source of the testimonial, the better. The person’s name, what they do, where they live, what events led them to your company, etc.
Photos and videos are even better. They show that a person believes enough in your company to associate their face with it.
Testimonials with no attribution create skepticism, and skepticism puts a dent in your credibility.
7) Your content writing has more issues than Bieber and Miley combined.
I’m a content writer, so I had to go there.
I don’t feel like we should fear the grammar police, but is it too much to expect proper spelling, punctuation, capitalization and subject-verb agreement from a credible organization?
Hate to be overly blunt, but it makes you look stupid. And stupid is the opposite of credibility.
From a marketing standpoint, content filled with clichés like “highest quality,” “friendly, knowledgeable staff” and “years of experience” tells me that you have nothing of substance to say.
Those claims have no credibility if you can’t validate them.
This is far from an exhaustive list, but these are the most common ways I see businesses damaging their credibility. Feel free to add to the list!