When you’re starting a new service business or offering a new service, it’s important to maximise credibility and confidence for your first customers or clients, whether through review sites, social media or word-of-mouth.
Unfortunately, people are often nervous about buying a product or service when they can’t find any positive feedback about it. And until someone is willing to “go first” and provide that feedback, you’re stuck in the classic catch-22 situation.
So how do you encourage people to give your product or service a go in the first place? Here are five ideas to help you out.
1. Discount or Waive Your First “Test Run”
While a lot of children want to grow up and be astronauts, I doubt many of them would have wanted to be the first person in space. Things can go wrong—and unfortunately have (e.g. Space Shuttle Challenger).
It’s the same with business. People will rarely pay full price to be the guinea pig for your product or service. So why not get a few friendly prospects or clients and offer them a discount in return for honest feedback? Tell them you are ‘in early release’ or ‘prototyping the service’ for example. And avoid use of the word ‘discount’ if you can. Instead, use ‘Foundation Member’, ‘Early Adopter Pricing’, or ‘First Mover Pricing’ for example. Just use words that ‘fit’ with your target market. Discount implies ‘cheap’ and affects peoples’ perception of your quality.
Be sure to educate your early users of what the normal price will be, so that they are fully aware of the price advantage they are getting. They won’t appreciate the value of what you are giving them, unless you educate them to it.
2. Create Absolute Transparency
This applies to all aspects of running your business, but especially in the early stages when you’re bringing new clients on board. They don’t want any stone left unturned. What’s the point of them signing up for your product or service only to find out it isn’t what they expected?
Brainstorm common questions your prospects may have, such as:
- What is the value for me?
- Where could it go wrong?
- What is my outcome?
- What are the non-tangible benefits?
- Has anyone else done this apart from you, and what were the results?
Once you’re done, put together a document that answers these questions or be sure to include it in your pitch or proposal. This will give your prospect a lot more certainty.
3. Offer a Guarantee
A simple idea, especially when you’re certain the client will benefit from it, is to offer a guarantee to reduce their level of risk. Just make sure your guarantee comes from a position of confidence rather than coercion.
Bad example: “If you don’t think this
Good example: “We believe in this
You can see that the good example uses positive words (believe, agree, good) and tries to limit the use of negative words or concepts. You want the message of your guarantee to be “we totally believe in how good it is” rather than, “we’re unsure and will refund you if that’s the case”.
4. Practice What You Preach
This is one of our favourite ideas, and for good reason. After all, if you’re not applying it to your business, then why would your clients?
For instance, we love Xero and implementing it for business owners who’ve used alternatives in the past and know of nothing better. It’s a big move for most people, and there are concerns at every turn.
How do we alleviate a lot of those concerns? By telling them:
- We use Xero every day in our own business
- Every client or prospect that has come on board has switched to Xero (and none has switched back).
In our coaching and growth program, the Inspire MBA, we also suggest that our clients implement many tools and processes we’ve already tried. That means we can answer their concerns from experience rather than just a textbook.
Would you trust a personal trainer who isn’t following their own advice? Make sure you’re using the product or the process you’re encouraging your clients and prospects to use whenever you can.
5. Over-Service and Include Supporting Products or Services
Another way to ‘sweeten the deal’ for those first few people taking the journey is to offer additional or supporting services you wouldn’t normally include. This could be as little or as much as you wish, depending on the scalability of those extras.
But be careful. You need to make it clear these extras aren’t part of your normal service and won’t be available forever. The last thing you want is to misalign your clients’ expectations and lower the value of your service offering.
There’s no easy path to getting your first few case studies or testimonials. You need to just give it a go, and learn from every interaction and outcome.
The good news is the better you get at this, the easier it will be to offer additional services. You’ll get great at launching, testing and adjusting your approach. And by doing that you’ll gain credibility quickly and grow your business much more effectively.