The Passing Lane: Passing the Competition Online by Marnie Perhson

Issue #14 Monday, January 4, 1999

About the Author:

Marnie Perhson
Marnie Pehrson, founder of C.E.S. Business Consultants and the
International Association of Computer Professionals, develops products that help computer professionals market and manage their businesses.

She is author of
How to Run a Successful Computer Training Business,

How to Get & Keep Customers for Your Computer-based Business

Keeping Your Sanity in a Home Business.

Marnie also develops business plans, marketing strategies, financial projections, & proposals for Internet projects. Her plans and strategies have garnered clients an average of $100,000 each in seed capital.

Marnie lives on a Georgia farm with her husband and their six children .

C.E.S. Business Consultants
Ringgold, Georgia
TEL: 706-866-2295


Building Trust

Unfortunately, there are a few hucksters and dishonest people on the Internet who have made it necessary for the rest of us to work doubly hard to build trust. While big corporations with their established brand names are perceived as trustworthy, other small- to medium-sized businesses that are not so well known have to work hard to let visitors know they are respectable. What are some ways that you can build trust and help potential Internet customers feel more at ease with purchasing from you?

First, show them that you are a real person.

  • Put photos of your key personnel on the web site.
  • Put your full name and address on your site. Avoid using a P.O. box; a real physical address is perceived as more trustworthy.
  • Personalize your site. Give it that down-to-earth appeal by speaking in language that you would use when speaking to a friend. Use this heart to heart, friend to friend language in your articles and editorials.
  • Remember that people buy from people, not from companies.

Second, don't use spam to promote your services. Although with current legislation it is not unlawful to bulk mail people that you feel would be interested in your products and services (given certain conditions are met), it lowers the perceived respectability of your company. Avoid it. Instead of using unsolicited e-mail promotions, consider opt-in e-mail lists and e-zine advertising.

Third, don't promise the moon unless you are prepared to deliver it. Headlines like "Earn $3,000 per week in your spare time" scream, "I'm a scam. I'm here to steal your hard-earned money." Don't make promises like this that would put up red flags in the mind of any logical human being.

Fourth, offer ordering through a secure server. Speak with your web hosting provider about how to take credit cards over a secure server. Not only does the encryption lend confidence to the transaction, but also the fact that you have been approved for a merchant account, lends further credibility to your operations.

Fifth, put testimonials on your site. Get permission to use quotes from real people who have used your products or services. I've used this on the International Association of Computer Professionals web site, with a little different twist to it. I've interviewed several of our members about their businesses, what types of business challenges they face, what marketing techniques work worst/best for them, and also how they've used their IACP membership. We've linked these under a "Meet our Members" section so that not only do they function as testimonials, but they also give additional exposure and promotion to our members. It's a win-win situation for both of us.

Sixth, be accessible. Make links to your e-mail address easy to find on your web site. Encourage visitor feedback. Then, when people e-mail you, follow through within 24-48 hours. You can use autoresponders to at least give a standard reply to visitors, but I continue to cling to the individualized response. I like talking to my regular and prospective customers, sharing ideas and learning how to make our products and services better. When you take the time to read and respond to visitor feedback, not only do you gain their respect, but you also learn a lot about what people are looking for and how to serve them better. Some of my best-selling products and services have come from customer feedback.

Follow these guidelines, and you will be on your way to building visitor trust. Once you've gained their trust, the sale is only a heartbeat away.

Text Copyright © 1999, Marnie Pehrson. Part of the original Sideroad.
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