My short travel through the business blog world last Friday was most educational.
First, on Jim’s Marketing Blog, I discovered Jim Connolly’s “Are you ready, willing and able? Then show me!” It reminded me of an area I often lecture clients about but have never shared with my blog readers — the importance of building credibility.
Jim is talking mostly to small businesses and reminding them how important it is in marketing communications to show that the business is “able” to deliver on what it’s offering. What I found educational was that Jim feels that using testimonials, case studies, number of years in business and other traditional “credentials” is not enough to build credibility today. Those credentials are what the competition is using.
What a business needs to do is blog, send out newsletters and provide other information that shows the people at the business know what they’re talking about and are a knowledgeable resource for their customers. He’s right, of course.
What he’s advising is something that bigger businesses (and we B2B marketers) often refer to as establishing a position of “thought leadership.” Fortunately, I have just learned from Eric Wittlake to throw that term out. His “Digital B2B Marketing” blog “Thought Leadership Marketing is an Oxymoron” tells why.
What he explains is that creating a white paper, giving how-tos in a newsletter, or writing a blog on various industry subjects does not make a company a thought leader. Thought leadership is really answering questions like, “What will the most important industry innovations be in the next five and ten years?” Technology companies recognized as visionaries on Gartner’s Magic Quadrants could be considered thought leaders.
But companies don’t have to be thought leaders to be considered a trusted resource of information and solutions related to their industry. That’s how Jim Connolly advises companies to build credibility today. I agree that this is important. But I would not throw out the other options. They are all still essential ingredients in proving that a company is what it says it is and can deliver on what it promises. Smart B2B marketers make use of these 14 new and traditional forms of credibility to support the claims they make in their marketing.
- Blogs and newsletters that share operating advice, money-saving advice, and industry updates
- Short videos of clients telling of their success
- Clients willing to speak about their success at conferences and trade shows
- Customer/client loyalty statistics
- List of clients served by name (with permission)
- Customer company logos (with permission)
- Number of clients served by industry
- Number of years in business
- Written success stories/case studies
- Testimonials with name and title — adding customer photos is even better
- Press coverage from industry pubs
- Customers willing to talk with prospective buyers
- List of community services to which the company contributes
- Awards and recognition from industry groups