Friday Q&A: How do you make a startup look like a professional business?

How do you make a startup look like a professional business?
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Every Friday, we’re answering your questions about business, startups, customer success and more.

Happy Friday!

This week’s question comes from Cheresa Dawkins, who asks:

My first reaction to this question would be a word of caution: be careful with this.

As a small business, especially one that’s selling to consumers, you have a distinct advantage: you can use your size as a selling point.

It’s okay to be a small startup, if that means that your customers get to benefit from more personal support from a business that cares more about each and every interaction, and if the customer gets to feel like they’re supporting a small business, rather than a large corporation. To many people, these things matter.

But with that out of the way, one of the hardest objections to overcome in marketing is “why should I trust you?”

And, if you look like a startup, you have to work a bit harder to answer that question.

Here’s what I would recommend:

  1. Work on producing valuable content that helps your customers with their problems. Whether it’s blog content, video content or visuals, if a customer gets value from you before they buy, they’ll already trust you enough to not care whether your website is polished or not. Here’s how to do it, and here’s how to spread the word.

  2. If you’re concerned with your site not looking professional enough, but can’t afford a designer, consider an upgraded WordPress setup like the Genesis framework paired with a premium theme that fits your industry.

  3. Validation, validation, validation.

    1. Get testimonials from your customers, no matter how few you have.
    2. Publish guest posts with influencers in your industry, and afterwards, put their logos on your site.
    3. Partner with more high-profile companies, and put their logos on your site.
    4. Build mentor relationships with known people in your industry, and get quotes from them that you can put on your site.

Above all, don’t worry about looking like your corporate competitors. If you try, people will see right through it, but more importantly, you’ll lose a very important differentiator that can bring you huge value in your marketing: you’re small, and the right customers will love that about you.

Alex Turnbull
Alex Turnbull Alex is the CEO & Founder of Groove. He loves to help other entrepreneurs build startups by sharing his own experiences from the trenches.