Why Is There No Trust Between Consumers and Companies?

Trust

‘Only 8% of people trust what companies say about themselves’ – this recent shocking statistic is representative of the problems facing the majority of businesses. Companies may have become more efficient at advertising and targeting sales but they have become less trustworthy. This is a major problem which isn’t going away. Without trust, businesses cannot build long-lasting relationships with their customers and therefore cannot create brand loyalty. There are many reasons behind this shift but there are ways for companies to turn things around.

Advertising

There have been a lot of changes within advertising in recent years, many of which are to blame for the lack of trust between companies and clients. For example, many consumers are uncomfortable with their personal information being shared without prior consent. Another issue with advertising is how the actual products and services are described. Some businesses exaggerate the benefits of their products and therefore make it extremely difficult for the products to live up to the hype. This leads to a disappointed customer who is going to take their business elsewhere in the future.

The best way to engender trust within your customers is to be respectful and honest. This means advertising products truthfully, without exaggeration. Incorporating customer reviews into your product pages will also help in creating a well-rounded outlook of your products and services.

Sales

Profit and sales are vital to any business but they shouldn’t come before your customers. Many companies will endeavour to sell products and services to customers, whether the consumer needs them or not. This can be particularly unethical when it comes to vulnerable people such as the elderly.

There is a way to chase profit and still operate as a conscientious and thoughtful company. One of the best ways to achieve this is by finding your client base. Target the group of people who are already looking for your products and/or services and sell to them. As well as helping to build trust, this approach can also make much more sense financially compared to targeting everyone.

Customer Service

Customer service offers a direct relationship between businesses and their client base. This allows companies to showcase how they treat their customers and this will dictate future interactions. The best away to approach this issue is to listen to each and every customer and treat every correspondence with the same priority. Some customers will have complaints but businesses should remain calm and try their best to remedy the problem at hand.

Many companies now offer a wide range of customer service options, which is highly appreciated by consumers. This means offering traditional communication methods such as telephone, email and post, as well as more modern options which include instant chat, social media or even video chat. The easier you make it for the customer, the more likely they are to return to you in the future.

Identity

Branding can be powerful tool, not only for boosting sales but also for showcasing yourself as a reputable, customer-centric company. There are many ways to build a brand identity which focuses on both business and people. For example, many organisations work hard to combat their carbon footprint and encourage others to do the same. Some businesses are incredibly philanthropic and will complete pro-bono work alongside their paid services.

These are just some examples of the ways in which branding can effect trust. Any company can forge successful relationships with their consumers by projecting an honest image of quality, reliability and respect.

Unfortunately, although very few consumers trust organisations within the corporate world, this can change. Many newer businesses are going against the traditional business model and beginning their journey with mutual respect in mind as opposed to profit no matter what.

Does Directory Advertising Still Work?

Directories

Modern advertising conjures up images of viral marketing, television campaigns and social media but where does this leave directory advertising? This traditional form of advertising has been popular for many years but the business world has changed dramatically in recent times. Although there is a lot of competition out there, directory advertising still has its place and can offer a wealth of benefits to small and large businesses alike.

Paper vs. Digital

Traditionally, directory advertising utilised a paper based system, e.g. yellow pages. Before the internet, these directories would have been one of the only ways for people to find specific types of businesses. With the advent of the internet, these directories have moved online. Online directories retain all of the advantages of their paper counterparts but benefit from the networking potential of the internet.

Branding

Branding is important for every company but creating a brand can be expensive and time consuming. Advertising within a directory can help businesses in their endeavour to build their brand. This can be achieved in a variety of different ways, through showcasing products and services to including an introductory paragraph on the business as a whole. This is especially successful in specialised or trade directories as consumers will begin to identify specific businesses with particular industries.

Search Engines

Businesses which advertise through a directory based website will often feature highly on search engine results. This is due to the fact that many directories often place high on search results and by creating a connection between your business and the directory, your rankings will increase as well. This is particularly beneficial for smaller businesses who may find it difficult to compete with larger companies who utilise SEO.

Targeted

One of the main advantages of advertising within directories is that you are going to reach your target audience without even trying. Many companies go above and beyond trying to target advertising to specific client bases but directory based advertising does it for you. This is especially true for trade directories which will only list companies who deal in a specific market. This approach is particularly efficient and is therefore ideal for businesses with less money to spend on marketing.

Feedback

Customer feedback can be an invaluable tool, not just for you but for other potential consumers as well. Many online directories allow customers to post reviews or comments on particular businesses and their products and services. This can be a form of advertising in itself and the best part is it’s completely free. Customer reviews help to personalise your products and can actually influence other customers into making a purchase.

Networking

As well as offering a database of businesses for customers, directories can also be utilised by other companies. Therefore they can help businesses to network with their contemporaries which could lead to new suppliers or even new contracts. In fact some businesses build their entire infrastructure around working with other companies, e.g. B2B. The internet has opened up communications throughout the globe and therefore networking has never been easier. Whilst many business owners flock to social media, many forget the benefits of directory networking.

It’s clear that there is still a place for directory advertising, especially for businesses who are looking to gain exposure. In some cases, advertising using this method can have advantages over traditional online advertising, social media and email marketing. Overall, directories offer a relatively, quick and easy method for boosting sales and showcasing your business to consumers.

Simple Tips to Turn Visitors into Customers

Telephone Box

When running an online business, it can be easy to fall into the trap of prizing traffic above all else. Obviously attracting visitors to your website is vital but overall this means nothing unless they are buying. There are many guides out there for boosting traffic, in fact the entire SEO industry is based around the idea of attracting more online visitors. However, transforming visitors into customers can require a different approach. The following are just some of the ways in which you can achieve this.

Design

The design of your website can have a significant effect on visitors and their decision to buy. The overall layout should be simple and stylish with intuitive navigation. The design of your product pages is just as important, if not more. Clear and attractive product images should be included, with important details such as prices, features and delivery information. Try not to bombard your consumers with too many options on the one page as this has been shown to discourage some buyers. It should also be noted that your ‘Buy’ or ‘Add to Cart’ button should be strategically placed and in a contrasting colour in order to attract attention. Most importantly, don’t be afraid of designs which are unique or bold, these can help you to stand out from the crowd.

Encourage

Encouraging a customer to purchase from you, over another vendor can be difficult. It’s for this reason that companies can benefit from offering incentives such as discounts, offers and free delivery. Online shoppers have become incredibly savvy and will often search for offer codes in order to grab a bargain. Offers can also be targeted towards customers, whether via social media blasts or emails sent to subscribers. This way subscribers are given an early warning of a sale or other promotion and this works as a kind of loyalty scheme.

Review

Customer reviews have become a fixture of many online stores, most notably Amazon. Showcasing these reviews will allow consumers to gain a personal insight into the products they are looking at and this can be influential in the overall purchase decision. Many companies are now asking their customers to complete reviews in exchange for entry into competitions.

Another way that customer reviews can help boost sales is through search engine recommendations. Positive reviews on your products can place your website higher on search results and therefore more visible to customers.

Remind

Online window shoppers will often plan to make a purchase, even going as far as placing an item within their trolley and then change their mind. Many companies are now using this phenomenon as a way to boost sales by reminding consumers that they wanted to purchase an item. You can do this in a number of ways. Some stores will email a customer who has left an item within their basket and remind them of this fact. Others will even offer a discount if the customer decides to make this purchase.

The other method of reminding shoppers of a potential purchase is more subtle. A customer may be visiting a product page and then move on to other websites. When they visit social networking sites or those using Google AdWords, they could be targeted with an ad featuring an item they have previously viewed. This technique has the same effect of prompting the customer to think about the item and therefore consider buying it.

These are just some of the techniques which can help businesses to transform their traffic into revenue. With so much competition out there, the best way of attracting businesses is to offer something that nobody else is, whether that be products, services, promotions or customer service.

How to Stand Your Ground in a Competitive Market

So, you’re a small fish in a pond full of much larger fish with sharp teeth that are ready to pounce on you.  All the while you’re watching your back whilst trying to get your fair share of food.  It’s a scary thing for a small company to stand up to the competition and risk loosing everything they’ve worked so hard to achieve.  But if you turn the way you think about your competitors on its head and see the advantages that a small business has that they don’t then not only can you make space for yourself and your product in a crowded market, but you can also make your business stronger in the process.

Here are some tips:

  1. Play to your differences – You’ll never be able to compete directly with large corporates. You just don’t have the same resources and budgets, so don’t even try and keep up with their activities.  When offering a similar product, price is often the area that most small business try and compete on, but many get involved in pricing wars that they just can’t win and this sometimes proves fatal. Find a differentiator other than price such as unsurpassable customer service. Corporates spend obscene amounts of money trying to create a more personal service but it invariably comes across as being forced and disjointed.  Small businesses naturally have the opportunity to offer this so look for the little things that make the difference to your customers.
  1. Embrace change and retain agility – Charles Darwin once wrote “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” The same is true for businesses and the smaller the business the more agile you can be. Don’t get bogged down with internal processes and procedures that constrain progress and use the opportunity you have to act quickly.“… Organizations that are good react quickly to change. […] organizations that are great create change.” Robert Kriegel, Sacred Cows Make The Best Burgers. Large organisations invest heavily in developing their products and looking for new opportunities so you should use the resources you have to drive change too and beat them at their own game using your ability to act quickly to get to the finish line and launch your product first.
  1. Knowledge and insight are gold – The more knowledge you have about your competitors, the market in which you operate, your customers and your target market the better. This information is what will fuel your ideas and carve your journey forward.  Don’t overlook your current customer base. Conduct some research to find out what their needs are and whether you are meeting them.  What do they look for in a product and a supplier? What do they think you could do better? What do they need for the future? Try and meet their needs as best you can so they have no reason to go elsewhere.
  1. Never get complacent – if you’re a big enough threat to your competitors then they’ll be watching you like a hawk. Another quote now from a man who seems to know his stuff: “Success breeds complacency.  Complacency breeds failure.  Only the paranoid survive,“ Andy Grove. It’s hard work keeping ahead but as soon as you stop or slow down you’ll be overtaken.
  1. Have confidence – Be confident in your products, your business and your team. It’s contagious so if you have confidence in what you’re offering and in the ability of your business to compete then your employees will too and you’ll all drive the business forward together.  One final quote for you: Experience tells you what to do; confidence allows you to do it.” Stan Smith, Champion tennis player