There are clearly many ways to build credibility but one pursued by many organizations is to earn awards or endorsements from outside organizations. Outside or third party is obvious as you can’t just create an endorsement for yourself or give yourself an award. Well, I guess you could but it would not get you any credibility. You’ll also note that I use the word earn, which is intentional, as there are clearly different types of awards and endorsements in terms of exposure and credibility.
I’ll address the elephant in the room first so we can move on: you can buy awards or endorsements too. There I said it and I’ll admit I’ve done it. I’m not sure how surprising this is to all of you, and I hope it isn’t, but I have seen shocked looks on some peoples faces when I tell them this is possible and that all awards and endorsements are not created equal. Suffice to say, if you are trying to build credibility, this is not the type of award I’m referring to and that’s why “earn” was used intentionally.
There are also awards that in reality are a popularity contest. These are a double edged sword as they are normally setup with customers as the voters but many times a certain amount of virtual ballot stuffing takes place. These can be worth winning but realize what you need to do to accomplish that and be prepared to put in the effort to get the votes you need.
Winning an award that has been judged by a panel of industry experts, who are credible in their own right, can quickly raise the awareness of your company and provide strong third-party validation of your products or services. Even better, if the award is the result of some testing, or validation was involved, that will increase the credibility of the award and the impact it will have on your marketing.
A variation on awards is the product review. This is likely the most credible of all as the audience knows your product was put through some of the paces. But remember that if you do poorly in the review, that gets written up too and could do more damage than not being in the review at all. As well, some of these reviews can also be bought so be careful what you sign-up for as these are less credible yet still expensive. The key to product reviews is to make sure you understand the tests going in and then support the review team as much as possible to ensure success. Never just send in your product and hope for the best.
When you earn a respected award, you definitely want to promote them as you need people to find out about your win to increase your company’s credibility. You may issue a news release or blog post, add the award to your website and sales tools and also make sure it’s prominent when you are at an event. It’s also a good idea to add it to email signatures and social media platforms as this will reinforce the validation over time. However, you will want to work with the third-party that granted the award and follow their guidelines as doing anything they don’t approve of will only undermine the award for you and others.
Start-ups need these award and endorsements even more to build their credible just like a prospective employee needs references to land their first few jobs. However, regardless of company size or stage, awards can play a key role since prospects want to go with the solution that they know someone else has recommended. Some award and endorsements are better than others and will vary by industry so focus on earning the ones that are respected and that you would be proud to show.
But, awards aren’t the only way to build your credibility. There are at least two other types of endorsements that may do even more to build credibility which I’ll write about in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned…