If you want your startup to be successful, especially in the long term, you need to find a way to build trust. Hopefully, you operate your business so ethically and transparently that trust will become natural with time. But when you’re first starting out, you don’t have much of a history for people to investigate – and newcomers will naturally be suspicious of your brand.
What are the best ways for a new startup to build trust initially? How can you start convincing new customers that your new brand is trustworthy?
A New Startup Should Start With a Trustworthy Core
To build trust there is nothing more important than to start with a trustworthy core. If your business is naturally trustworthy, people will eventually come to trust it.
For trust-building — start with the big three:
Focus on the quality of your products and services. You probably didn’t get into this business to scam people or cheat them out of money, so make sure you adhere to those principles. On the other hand, suppose you’re genuinely interested in providing high-quality products and services to those who need them. The trust will come naturally eventually — and it will be easier to build trust from the outset.
If your startup can attract funding, it probably already has strong leadership in place. Make sure you highlight at least a few team members with lots of experience and knowledge in this industry. People are more likely to trust people than faceless institutions.
Operate your company as ethically as possible, focusing on honesty, transparency, sustainability, and mutual respect. Of course, ethics can be a bit subjective, but there are clearly some “wrong” things to do in the business world.
Demonstrate Thought Leadership and Expertise
As much as possible, demonstrate your thought leadership and expertise. If you become recognized as a true authority in this space, people will naturally trust your brand more. There are many ways that you can do this.
One of the best is to launch a content marketing strategy. Using written, video, and audio content, you can directly engage with your audience and prove to them that you know what you’re talking about.
A combination of blog posts, whitepapers, eBooks, podcasts, and even streaming video sessions can help you educate your audience and get more visibility. If you consistently produce high-quality work, and other significant players in the industry respect that work, people will naturally trust you more.
Practice Guest Posting and Link Building
There are many viable link-building strategies, but one of the best is guest authorship, which will boost your trustworthiness in multiple ways. The idea goes like this: after establishing an archive of content on your own website, you can use the strength of your author profile to request permission to create posts on external websites.
Once you’re established as a guest author, you can write content for these publishers and include some links back to your main website.
The practice of guest posting and link building has several benefits. For starters, you’ll be able to expand your visibility and ensure your status as a thought leader is seen across many different channels. You’ll reach thousands, and potentially millions of new people with your words — and all those people, we’ll come to trust you more as a result.
The links you build will also build trust and generate referral traffic.
Your goal with guest posting and link building is to build trust, as well as send people directly to your website as they encounter your links in your work. These links also serve as a kind of vote of confidence, boosting your authority in the eyes of search engines; this is why link building is such an essential strategy for search engine optimization (SEO), ultimately helping your website rank higher in search engines and attract more organic traffic.
This strategy grows more powerful as you work with more prominent and trustworthy publishers. You can “climb the ladder” of trustworthiness, so to speak, gradually working with more trustworthy and more recognizable brands as your authority as a guest author grows.
Be Honest and Transparent in All Matters
Next, ensure your company is as honest and transparent as possible, especially in publicly visible communications. For example:
Answer questions honestly and in full to build trust.
If someone asks you a question, answer that question directly, honestly, and in full. Dodging the question, answering ambiguously, or deliberately lying could compromise your reputation, especially if you’re publicly exposed for doing so.
Address bad news proactively to build greater trust.
If you suffer a security breach, if you’re going to miss a deadline, or if your company is about to deal with a massive PR incident, try to address the bad news proactively. It might temporarily hurt your reputation, but it’s much better than the alternative; most customers would prefer to work with a brand that honestly addresses bad news rather than a brand that tries to cover the bad news up.
Acknowledge mistakes and apologize.
Your company will make mistakes, especially in your early stages of growth. Be ready to acknowledge those mistakes and apologize.
Form Recognizable Partnerships and Affiliations
If your brand isn’t trustworthy, consider partnering and affiliating your brand with other trustworthy brands. If you can land a significant client that people already trust — that’s a major win.
If you can’t do that, try to get certifications from respected organizations, affiliate status with specific partners, and credits from the past publishers you’ve worked with. Trust by association is incredibly powerful, and you can’t afford to neglect it.
Prioritize Fast, Clear Communication to Build Trust
As much as possible, you should prioritize fast, clear communication. People should be able to reach your company and talk to a representative within a day or two, preferably within hours. They should also get clear, concise information from you.
Because of this, it’s essential to train all your staff members on effective and trustworthy communication. Templates can help, but it’s also important to be sincere and authentic in your communications.
These are some of the most important areas you’ll need to focus on to build trust are as follows:
Sales for better trust-building
People aren’t going to buy from you if your salespeople are unreliable, unclear, or unavailable. Make sure your sales staff are equipped with the resources they need to answer customer questions fully, respond quickly, and provide support when necessary.
Customer service is a big area of trust-building
People need to know that they can count on your brand to step up when something goes wrong. A strong customer service team can easily make up for any mistakes you make and turn disappointed customers into reassured ones. Your customer service department should make good use of the advice to acknowledge mistakes and apologize; they’ll likely have to do this regularly, period.
Get active on social media. This is potentially your biggest communication channel, and the one that’s most publicly visible, so it needs to present your most trustworthy side. Don’t bury unpleasant comments or questions; acknowledge them and address them to the best of your ability.
Earn Good Reviews
Do your best to earn good reviews from your customers. If you’re dispensing high-quality products and services and you’re providing adequate customer service, this should happen naturally. But you can make this process even faster and more reliable by directly asking for reviews from your customers.
As an added bonus, good reviews are one of the best ways to grow your business. More people will see your brand name, and they’ll be much more likely to purchase products and services from you in the future because you have the support of your customers from the past.
Building trust is no simple matter. You’re probably going to encounter several obstacles on your way to establishing a better reputation for your brand, especially if you’re just starting out. But with these strategies, you can build trust much more reliably and start generating more revenue from new customers.
Image Credit: by William Fortunato; Pexels; Thank you!
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