The success of your ability to convert desired actions (phone call, registration form submission, pdf download, directions search, coupon download, gift certificate purchase, etc.) and generate local business online will hinge on a handful of factors—here are three:
1. Creating a professional web presence
2. Establishing online visibility where your local market searches
3. Providing reflexive content—the exact information your customers are looking for
However, being seen and heard online by prospective customers will not be enough in the future. By 2012, the majority of small businesses will be following many of the same local online marketing principles, then what?
What is your competitive edge?
Market leaders don’t sell prospects on their products and services, they make it impossible to say “No” by oozing trust and credibility.
I’m not talking about posting a handful of testimonials and positive reviews on your website—a tactic I DO NOT recommend unless it convincingly passes the sniff test. This was effective in 1998 but can actually hurt your business if not properly executed.
One form of credibility is building trust through meaningful and authoritative associations.
For the purpose of this article, I am going to use the home page of the website Shanghaigardenexpress.com, a Phoenix, AZ restaurant, to demonstrate tips you can use to create trust on your small business website:
The first recommendation is old school simple but effective. Build trust promoting the internationally-accepted Visa and Mastercard for payment:
Why not emphasize your use of quality vendors? (using local vendors will expand your sphere of influence in your market and is a great cross promotion for both businesses):
Join a locally recognized association:
Build trust with a link to your local Chamber of Commerce (but only if you are a member!):
Promote any awards you have been honored with, such as “Best Small Business of the Year:”
Link to articles written about your business in the local paper:
Better yet, link to an article written about your business in a prominent national paper:
Promote your recognition in the “Best of” issue of a local city magazine:
Trumpet your recognition in the “Voted the Best” issue of a local community paper:
These are just a handful of ideas to stoke your creative fire.
Trust is sticky. Build it through meaningful and authoritative associations.