One of the most important things that any business can have, whether online or not, is legitimacy. If customers think that a particular business knows how to get a job done correctly or sells flawless products, not only will they come back, but they’ll also offer your name to others. And all business owners crave that word of mouth referral like nothing else, as it’s marketing gold.
But how to get that reputation? With online businesses, it can be a little bit more difficult to cultivate word of mouth recommendations simply because your customers might be from all around the globe, and thus are less likely to ask each other for referrals as compared to neighbors in a single community are. Like everything else about online businesses, it’s possible to get that reputation you want going, it just requires a bit of ingenuity and unconventional thought.
One of the best ways to start building your reputation as an online business is to start off with a bang – give away free content. This doesn’t mean that you need to give out free products; though, certainly, if you can afford to do so, freebies are a great way to get a customer’s attention. What you can do, however, is start giving out your advice. If you’re a construction company, set up a “how to fix it” section of your site that anybody can visit. If you’re a shoe repair shop, make some videos about how to do simple things like fix shoelaces and upload them to YouTube. This is a great way to draw in potential customers who may not have originally been looking for your services, but advice – but these surfers can quickly become customers if they believe in the strength of your advice.
Another great way is to get involved with online forums relating to the product or services that you sell. If you’re a car repair shop, consider joining some forums based on car repair and start offering up your free advice on the subject. Most of these forums allow their users to post “signatures,” which are little text/picture snippets that appear at the bottom of every post. If you use this opportunity to advertise your site, you’ll start generating interest when you build your reputation within that particular forum. Just be sure to actually contribute to the conversations in the forum itself, though – most forums have moderators and if your account is deemed to be producing too much spam, you’ll be removed from the community. Not to mention, people who only use forums to place advertisements and not contribute to the topics at hand are looked at with derision. Besides, if the topic of the forum is something that you are interested in – and assuming that you started a business in a particular topic, it hints that you are – you might even end up having fun by participating in forums.
Fun? Online business? Who knew?