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The 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"
  • Internet 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.

Yet another 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.

Ideally, the 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.

Another effective 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.

Whether the 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 established.

Be humble, work smart, keep it simple.

Karl Augustine
"The Regular Guy"

(c) Karl Augustine
http://www.9mistakes-online.com
http://startingsmart.9mistakes-online.com
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