Chances are you’ve heard that phrase about a thousand times. No matter what industry you’re in or who your customer’s are—consumers, other businesses, employees who need to “buy in” to what you’re selling—if you’re trying to increase awareness, educate, gain acceptance or influence/change opinions and, ultimately, behavior, credibility is the key.
Credibility, or “Street Cred’”, has always been a critical element to any successful business. So how do you establish it? Well, as any good entrepreneur or business owner will tell you, it starts by doing good, hard, honest work and delivering quality products and services. Assuming you’ve already established at least a modicum of credibility for your company that way, you need to further amplify that credibility with existing customers, extend it to potential customers and have internal customers—your employees—shout it from the rooftops, produce counters and online social networks. But how?
Talk Through the People…
First, you need to identify the intermediaries, influencers, specifiers, and others in your industry that hold sway among your target audience—and not just those in “traditional” media outlets. This could be a trade association, a specific subject matter expert, a thought leader or a group on a social media networking site. Next, share your knowledge and expertise with those organizations and, in turn, your name—and often your key messages—will be delivered through them to the people that matter most to your business. For instance, say you’re interviewed by the editor of your region’s local daily newspaper. Assuming the article is a good one (and the way to ensure that is a subject for another blog, or feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org), you’ve just:
1. Put your name out to large numbers of your target audience
2. Distributed your key messages with the often implied, always inferred and sometimes direct endorsement of the publication in which you quoted/mentioned
3. Shortened the decision cycle time of potential customers to become actual customers, of current customers to use your products and services more and more often, and other media to seek you out for information, education, more interviews, etc.
Go Forth and Propogate
And don’t rely on the circulation of that publication or the numbers of eyeballs its online companion site says it reaches to get the word out. Do some controlled post-publication distribution: get a reprint and use it as a sales tool among current and prospective customers, post it to your Web site as a link, include it in your profile on any social networking sites, particularly LinkedIn—then you’ll go from Street ‘Cred to Social ‘Cred.
Again, that last part’s a subject for another blog, so check back here for more about how to achieve credibility—and success—on “the street” and in your industry.