Building, maintaining and protecting credibility is critical for all companies, but even more so for newly established companies – particularly in B2B, new tech and new sectors. These days, startups are not only developing innovative products and services, they’re working in brand new industries, where shared knowledge is minimal, skepticism is high and history is counted in months rather than years. The road can be incredibly tough for these types of companies to expand operations, build new customer bases and attract either investors or offers of acquisition. This is because new entities – no matter how exemplary they are – don’t have the benefit of time and reputation to help establish that baseline trust so often required for inking a deal.
Add to this that, for companies engaging in large scale project development and application installations, winning the contract is not just a matter of convincing one person. More often than not, approvals move through an extensive chain of command, in which a project has to gain approval from the entire board – and that’s after working to win over a number of preliminary stakeholders. Very often, b2b startups find themselves in a chicken and egg scenario where they can’t land projects without credibility, but they can’t build credibility without landing projects.
In these types of situations, marketing can help make the most out of every opportunity, and having a well thought out action plan is the first step. Too often, opportunities come and go and companies don’t get as much reputational value as they could for one simple reason – they didn’t have a plan in place. That’s why we recommend all marketing departments – especially start up marketing departments – set up Trigger Systems.
In this article, I’ll talk a little about what Trigger Systems are, how they work and why you should get them established ASAP.
Credibility – Building It, Maintaining It and Protecting It.
Building It – If You Say One Thing and Do Another, People Will Notice.
When we talk about credibility, we’re talking about something outside of branding. Just because you say you’re the best doesn’t mean you are. And if you really are the best, people won’t necessarily believe you just because you tell them that. Credibility is proof. Credibility is showing your future clients that you’re capable and do what you say you’re going to do.
It Goes Something Like This:
- Your product performs in the way you promise it does.
- Your service is actually as outstanding as you claim.
- Your projects are delivered on time and on budget – just like you said they would be.
Maintaining It – Credibility – Hard to Get. Easy to Lose.
All of the ways you excel in your day-to-day operations make up the “stuff” of your credibility. Performance, customer service, meeting deadlines, product quality, leading edge tech – these are what earn you a rep – good or bad.
Therefore, in building credibility, actually being credible is pretty much mandatory. But then, it’s not enough to simply be credible. Your target audience has to know it for “it” to matter. You have to get the proof in front of the right faces. Whether you’re looking for an angel investor, a few bucks from Kickstarter or an opening into an entirely new market base, your audience isn’t going to know how awesome you are unless you show them. And showing them goes much deeper than a clever tag line, a good website and a last minute press release that reads like an afterthought.
The best way to leverage your accomplishments is to have a plan in place BEFORE you need it – we refer to these plans as Trigger Systems.
Leverage the Awesome With Trigger Systems
If you’re killin’ it out in the business world, no one’s ever going to know unless you show them. And just like everything else in your business, having a streamlined process for tooting that horn is essential. So often in business we see marketing departments investing a lot of precious time – over and over again – figuring out how best to promote their big wins. The “do it, then forget about it” system creates a cycle of wasted time – time that could have been spent improving the actual content and refining the plan.
Trigger Systems Help Get It Done in A Timely Manner
A Trigger System is a way to ensure that your credit-worthy accomplishments get the love they deserve in real time (rather than three months after the fact). And Trigger Systems are particularly helpful to companies that work in partnership with other businesses, because all that name dropping in your press release is going to require approval, which, again, takes time – sometimes a lot of time.
Trigger Systems result in processes and protocols established before you need them, and they allow you to pay more attention to what you’re going to say, rather than how and where you’re going to say it.
Let’s say you’re a business that makes a cutting edge IoT data application that is little known, but capable of changing the world for the better in mind blowing ways. You’ve just completed your first major project and your tech is running like a dream. Your client is happy and you finished on deadline. Now, you’re ready to tell the world how amazing you are – and you want word of your amazingness to spread before your next investor pitch.
Here’s what a Trigger System for this scenario might look like:
Creating a system like this one for your regularly occurring announcements (and actually writing it down and putting it either in Google Drive or a good old fashioned binder on the shelf) ensures that all steps will be completed (or at least considered) when they need to be. Nothing gets forgotten, and you can spend all that time you saved making your materials perfect.
Plus, creating Trigger Systems helps to make your marketing department run more efficiently at all times – no matter what kind of human resources pickle you might find yourself in. Consider this: What happens if your marketing director quits right when you’re ready to announce a new project? Without a pre-established Trigger System, probably a lot of scrambling and finger pointing and a missed opportunity that will never come around again. But with a Trigger System, you just take the binder off the shelf, hand it to the interim doer and say, “this is what needs to happen.” Bam. Done.
Credibility Trail – Protecting It
Finally, no one wants to think about it, but sometimes the “you-know-what” does hit the fan. When this happens, a wave of stress-induced poor decision making can ripple through your company inciting a bad-to-worse public relations nightmare similar to the these:
Small Car, Big Emissions Scandal
Burrito With A Side of E. Coli
2 Million Fake Bank Accounts, Anyone?
Now, we sincerely hope none of you are engaging in alleged racketeering or any other sort of the nefarious behaviors that some companies out there seem to think are acceptable business practices (if you are, please re-read Credibility Building Point #1). Hopefully, your issue, should you ever have to deal with one, is the result of a more innocent blunder stemming from the simple fact that things do go wrong from time to time, and we all make mistakes. But, either way, botching the response will only dig the hole deeper; whereas, thinking through a plan – in advance, when everyone is cool headed – can help you actually get out of the hole, rather than take the problem from bad to worse.
The odds are pretty good that if you’re paying attention, you have an idea of potential trouble spots in your company. And while you’re likely working hard to tend to the Gizmos before they become Gremlins, setting up a “worst case scenario” Trigger System can help alleviate the pressure of figuring out a pathway through troubled times in the unlikely event you need it.
And – added bonus – the process of figuring out this system can actually help you identify weak points you may have overlooked. This can help you turn things around before they get out of control, thus ensuring the disaster plan stays on the shelf where it belongs. After all, the best PR disaster plan is the one you never have to use.
Review, Rinse, Repeat
We recommend looking over your systems every time you use them to make sure you’re hitting all the potential opportunities and retiring parts of the plan that are no longer relevant. There is no fix it and forget it marketing magic bullet, but with a little planning and review, Trigger Systems can make credibility maintenance a little more manageable.
If this looks like a process you’d like to employ, but you just don’t have the time or people-power to get it going, there are companies out there that can help. Advertising and marketing agencies, like Echo Factory, Inc., exist to help internal marketing departments see these types of plans through to fruition. To learn more about how we help mid-sized companies and start-ups leverage their successes, and look great while doing it, view our portfolio
Thanks for reading!
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