Dire Need For Online Credibility; Is It All Smoke And Mirrors?
by Karl Augustine
Yes and no.
With any business,
credibility is a key element to building trust which
should ultimately lead to making a sale.
This is never
truer than in Internet marketing for these reasons:
- People don't
want to be sold to, they want information.
- People mostly
use the Internet to get information at no cost, not to purchase
a good or service
- People are
skeptical about purchasing online for fear of being "taken"
- The "would
be" customer most likely has no idea who the seller is and isn't
guaranteed any type of communication after the sale, no matter
what the website may say about a "guarantee"
marketing has been around long enough that savvy prospects have
seen their share of scams, shoddy products, and outrageous promises
and their defenses are heightened because of it
So what does
the newcomer and mid-level marketer do to gain credibility amidst
all this skepticism? Validate their USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
by ensuring that their prospect's perception of who they are and
what they have to offer is one of quality.
Until the sale
is made and the "prospect turned customer" actually has the product
in hand, the perception of quality is just that, merely perception.
Once the product is in the hand of the new customer, the perception
of quality is purely defined by the customer, not the seller. How
the customer views the product after the sale is made determines
his/her perception of quality of the product. However, before the
sale is made, the perception of quality is largely determined by
seller, and that's where sales are made or lost.
Why is the perception
of quality determined by the seller? Because the prospect can't
possibly validate a product's quality without owning it...the seller
tells the prospect what makes the product have quality and how it
will benefit them. The sales copy on the web site, the clarity of
the graphics, the proposed benefits the product delivers, and the
overall message that validates the USP that is relayed to the prospect,
all define the perception of quality of the product as dictated
by the seller. It is up to the prospect to decide whether he/she
will believe the message that the seller is relaying to him/her.
Because of the
prospect's skepticism, validating the USP and establishing credibility
can be a chore for the newbie and intermediate Internet marketer
regardless of the quality of the product itself. Since the newbie
or intermediate marketer isn't a "household" Internet marketing
name, action needs to be taken to establish online credibility.
How? Have other
Internet marketers and "would be" customers help. Go to the well-
known forums on the Internet and post messages asking for feedback
in return for a copy of the product being sold. This is one of the
most common methods to collect testimonials for products and services.
Another effective way to gain credibility as it is perceived by
the prospect, is to gather testimonials by giving the product to
their list or a small portion of their list in exchange for a testimonial.
way to gain testimonials and thus credibility, is to approach well
known experts within the product niche and ask for their impression
of the product being sold with the caveat that, if the expert was
in agreement that the product was quality, he/she would send you
a testimonial. Experts won't endorse products if they aren't quality
because they've spent far too long establishing themselves online
and unwarranted testimonials for sub par products damage their credibility.
newcomer and intermediate Internet marketer will get "unsolicited"
testimonials, but the tactics listed before are simply ways to add
to credibility. The fact that some testimonials may be obtained
through bartering, doesn't deter from the testimonial's credence.
If the product is truly quality, how the testimonial was obtained
is irrelevant to new prospects because to them, the testimonials'
origin is unknown.
way to establish online credibility is to publish articles to various
websites. The same principle holds true here as with the "expert
testimonial" scenario. If an Internet marketer gets his/her articles
published in newsletters that have sizable subscriber bases, that
marketer's credibility is heightened. Many e-zine owners that have
large subscriber bases will not publish sub-par articles, because
doing so would damage the credibility of the publication. While
getting articles published in other popular e-zines doesn't deliver
specific benefits to prospects about the product being sold, it
will add to general online credibility of the seller.
newbie or intermediate Internet marketer use testimonials or article
publication to establish online credibility, the true measure is
of credibility is in the product itself. Before the sale credibility
is established by the seller through the overall USP and through
testimonials. After the sale is made, online credibility is defined
by the customer. The question at this point is: "Did the product
live up to the sales message?" If so, online credibility with regards
to customer-to-seller "one to one" relationship has been successfully
Be humble, work
smart, keep it simple.
(c) Karl Augustine
"The Regular Guy"