Building a startup business brand from scratch is getting increasingly difficult with each passing day. Look around and you will find gazillions of brands vying for consumer attention. Does that mean your startup has no chance to compete with more established businesses in the niche?
No. Of course not!
Not if you have brand credibility to give you the competitive edge.
The underlying principle is simple; the more credible your brand is, the more trust it will gain from consumers. When they have faith in your brand, they will eventually go ahead and take a decision that works in your favor such as subscribing to your services or buying your products/solutions.
Here are eight fantastic ways through which a startup can build brand credibility.
1. Product/Service Quality
The assurance of giving nothing less than high quality products/services to your consumers is the foundation of brand credibility. Know the preference of your target audience and improve upon your existing product/service if needed. Make sure that it meets their requirements and delivers the best results.
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You can start by offering them ‘Freemium’ products or services with a free-trial period. The only drawback here is that you won’t be able to include all the features and functionalities of your product in the ‘Freemium’ version. The same holds true for services. In that case, include some selected features and functionalities, which are high in terms of quality and can make a lasting impression on your targeted user base.
If end-users like using your products and services and find the quality to be good enough, they will definitely go ahead and buy the premium version of the same.
2. Choose the best people to work with
Hire social media managers, content managers, online marketing specialists and other professionals with an impressive portfolio of work relevant to brand building. This might push your budget northwards, but think of these professionals as necessary resources which will help you maximize returns on your investment. They will work as a team and constantly make efforts to improve the brand credibility of your startup. If you already know people with profiles that match your requirements, get in touch with them and build a team, which will deliver the best results for your brand.
3. Create an effective content Strategy
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Creating an effective content strategy is also a part of making your brand trustworthy. Quality content updated on a regular basis can help build backlinks to your site, promote your brand on various social media channels, establish you as a thought leader in the industry etc.
It also helps you when it comes to influencer outreach (we will talk about it later). However, this doesn’t mean that you need to plaster your target users’ social media accounts with promotional links or send them constant reminders to subscribe to your website and get the latest product updates. Nobody appreciates these marketing gimmicks.
As an alternative, ask your content manager and social media marketer to come up with ideas for original content; create content pieces based on these ideas and publish them on high authority sites; the links to this content can be shared on social media.
You can create blog posts for your own website or for other websites in the same niche. In addition, create newsletters, white papers, press releases, case studies, brochures and other marketing collaterals, infographics, charts, videos and podcasts. Ensure that the content is trendy, timely, impactful and shareworthy. In short, it needs to appeal to your target audience.
4. Reach out to the influencers
Most end-users go with word-of-mouth publicity and take a decision, rather than trusting messages with a ‘salesy’ undertone. After all, anyone would want to purchase something that has been recommended by somebody they know or someone they trust implicitly.
This is why influencer outreach is important in establishing the credibility of your brand.
Influencers are people who have tremendous repute and credibility in a specific niche; the fact that they have tremendous domain knowledge and niche expertise means their fans and followers trust them to guide their decision making, which includes product purchase and use of services.
This implies that when influencers endorse or mention your products or services, their credibility rubs off on your brand and you also get access to their followers, who can be potential customers.
This of course, is not an easy task. You need to find influencers who are relevant to your business and make efforts to get in touch with them and build meaningful relationships. This will take time but once you are through, there is no looking back for your brand!
5. Humanize your brand
Social media provides endless benefits to startups like effective brand promotion and increasing visibility. Additionally, social media channels allow you to interact with existing and potential customers on a one-on-one basis.
For example, you can respond to a customer’s query soon after they post it on your company’s Facebook page. A quick response from your end speaks volumes about an enhanced customer service. This in turn is a plus point in establishing your brand’s repute.
Your social media presence also facilitates feedback, which is important as it helps you better your brand in more ways than one.
Suppose you have opened an online bookstore for kids. The feedback can be – a suggestion of ‘books that should be a part of your inventory but aren’t’ or maybe, a complaint stating a customer ‘received a box set in damaged condition’.
When you reply to such concerns on an immediate basis, the users will trust you and opt for your services again. If you don’t reply and just choose to ignore this feedback, they will form negative views about your product and subsequently, your brand.
The same holds true when you reply to your active followers’ and fans’ comments on various pages, acknowledge mentions, good reviews and criticism et al. Such real-time interaction/engagement with your target user base makes your brand more human. This way, your end-users tend to trust it more.
6. Form strategic partnerships
There is no doubt marketing and advertising your startup on various mediums and opting for promotional activities are some of the best solutions for improving business visibility. But then, these cost a fortune and might do nothing for your brand credibility. What you need to do is play it smart and opt for tactics that not only help your brand efforts but also improve credibility.
This is where forging strategic partnerships enters the picture. It’s all about optics.
Form partnerships with already established brands on the market, especially those who share similar values and goals; this association helps you gain instant credibility and also enhances brand visibility.
Ask reputed brands to endorse your products/services and share a percentage of the revenue with them. But this is a time-consuming process as many brands will not agree on a partnership almost immediately.
So, what you need to do is – thoroughly research firms that have already formed similar partnerships with other brands in your niche and approach them. Interact with them on common platforms such as forums and chats and proceed to connect with them to pursue your mutual interests. With persistent efforts and patience, I am sure you will be able to form a beneficial partnership.
7. Take out time for offline networking
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Trade fairs, exhibitions, seminars, conference, etc. are some of the events where you can find likeminded people with common objectives and interact with them personally. Also, you get to meet a number of thought leaders in the industry from whom you can gain valuable industry insights.
But, most importantly, you can network with target users (who often visit different stalls or exhibition stands). This gives your brand a lot of exposure, especially if the platform is huge.
For instance, if your startup has created a mobile app that has a lot of interesting features and you want to showcase it on a big platform, opt for a trade fair and exhibition that specifically targets the niche like – MWC (Mobile World Congress). It is a huge event, where you get to showcase your app to attendees from numerous countries, trade analysts and international media and interact with fellow exhibitors. This will definitely increase your brand’s visibility and add to its credibility! Therefore, make offline networking work to your advantage by being there at the right place at the right time.
8. Corporate Social Responsibility
Engaging in corporate social responsibility or CSR is commonplace these days for various enterprises and startups. It includes contributions towards various environmental and social causes.
For example, you can create a product that has been made from completely organic raw materials. This will reduce your carbon footprint and help you contribute to the environment. You can then promote the product by citing these points (adding a green badge citing ‘Eco-Friendly’ on your website) and earn accolades from end-users. You can also volunteer and support various organizations like CARE that work towards disaster relief, eradicating poverty, women empowerment etc. With this step, your brand creates a positive image in the minds of the public at large, which improves credibility.
All said and done, you can also create and implement your own strategies to build your brand’s credibility. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
What steps do you think will help establish brand credibility for startups? Have you implemented any of them? Share your experiences with us by commenting on this post.