How To Borrow Credibility For Greater Online Authority

June 17, 2019 | Sean Foo

Whether you are a new fancy startup or a five-year business looking to break into a new market, establishing trust is crucial for your audience to even take you seriously.

However, how do you go about it when you have near zero social proof and just a few customer testimonials?

Before you throw in the towel, here’s some good news!

With a little effort, you have the ability to control how people perceive and view your business.

You can absolutely hack your way into authority status and borrow credibility legitimately while you claw your way up to becoming a genuine expert.

It’s time to pay attention as we de-mystify how you can build your credibility on a strong foundation!


The 6 Ways to Borrow Credibility for Your Business when You Have Nothing

Starting from scratch doesn’t have to be intimidating, every business has to go through a similar process to establish some authority online to be taken seriously.

The following six ways will you hack your way into a level of authority that will boost your chances of conversions, sales and just people taking your business seriously.


1. Borrow Credibility From Your Brand Story & Culture

Your brand has a beginning and a mission and that is what differentiates your business from the other one just a click away.

Creating a memorable brand story that connects emotionally is one of the easiest ways to get a head start in your journey up the authority mountain.

Close’s about page starts off with a story that draws upon their journey and experience in the realm of sales that led to the creation of their Saas company.

This is especially powerful for new businesses that have an interesting journey to highlight – but it has to be related to your business and add value though!

Let’s also not forget about showcasing your company culture.

A strong company culture means happier employees and highlight motivated teams – this lends the perception of a strong and dedicated company that will deliver on their promises.

Yesware portrays their company culture through visuals – you can do the same as well!

Showcase who your employees are and how they are working together to inspire your customers that real people are putting in real effort to bring them a solution that will change their lives.


2. Borrow Credibility From Influencers (The Right Way)

You probably already know that people tend to trust the opinions of influencers in their respective fields and that is a big reason to leverage off their innate credibility.

But how do you do it? (Assuming you don’t already have them as a paying customer)

The short answer is to reach out and offer your services or product for free in exchange for an obligation-free review.

Notice I didn’t say ask for a testimonial or an endorsement directly. It will have to come naturally.

True influencers have the power of a dedicated following and the only reason why they managed to build one is because they are genuine and are truthful with their reviews.

Influencer reviews are perhaps one of the most powerful social proofs around, be genuine in your outreach and fine-tune your solution to meet their needs.

Give them the VIP treatment and eventually, you will be rewarded with glowing influencer endorsements that you can proudly showcase on your website.

And once you clinch those influencers as paying customers, you can proudly feature their endorsements on your website like how Ahrefs does it.


3. Borrow Credibility From Your Own Process

Every business has its own unique way of delivering their solution – why not show off how you get it done!

While it definitely works much better for novel and new emerging technology such as Artificial Intelligence or Blockchain, it also works if you are delivering a common solution in a different way that delivers results.

Web design agency, Steptoandson, brings their reader through their entire unique process, not only adding credibility to their company but differentiates themselves from the hoards of other agencies around.

For newer companies, this is a great opportunity you have on hand. Develop your process, take your reader through the crucial steps of how you deliver it – but do so in an interesting way.

Make it about them and how each step in your process adds value to the end goal and the benefits they will enjoy.


4. Borrow Credibility From Your Team’s Experience

Whether you have a rock-star co-founder or have employed a strong team, every one of your team members should have a rich professional history you can draw on.

If your business is technology-based, proudly showcase your technical team and put it in the forefront.

Maybe you are selling real-estate, talk about the amount and deal size your team has individually closed during their career history.

Noizchain, a blockchain company, does this well but adding just a quick blurb for each member of their core team.

If your business is new, you can add decades of experience into your reader’s perception through this tactic.

Even if your business was just set up a week ago but your team is comprised of a roster of all-star specialists in their respective field, you have just set your company apart as an authority in your field.

If you are a startup, this also extends to your board members and advisors.


5. Borrow Credibility From Your First Three Customers

Starting a business is hard, I know, but you should be able to get your first three paying customers.

Go above and beyond to guide them through your solution so that they can maximize their benefits from your product.

The objective here is to extract a quality case study from them, not just a testimonial. Your audience will respond better to the journey of success your clients (similar to them) have experienced instead of just your showcase of benefits.

A powerful case study will take your reader through three main points:

  • Their challenges before they had your solution
  • How they found your solution and what made them choose it
  • The benefits and end result of your solution

The end goal here is to create three powerful case studies that are filled with tangible benefits and results.

Like how Vendhq does it on their homepage, with these case studies, you can use extracts of it as a testimonial and even film a professional video case study if your business has the budget.

Looking for the best way to create your case study? We have you covered all the way!

Learn how to create a case study that closes sales…

…and then discover how to utilize it effectively in your marketing materials both online and offline!


6. Borrow Credibility From Accredited Associations

Whether you are running an engineering business, an accounting or law firm, borrowing credibility from your industry associations is a quick and easy way to inject in professional proof.

Civil engineering firms in the USA can get their accreditation from the American Society of Civil Engineers, while accounting firms in Singapore can get theirs from the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants.

I’m sure you have your own industry’s accreditation body to leverage on if you think hard enough.

People buy more from experts and experts are usually accreditated by their professional bodies or at least part of the association.

Being a relatively new tech start-up trying to revolutionize the logistics space, Opus9 showcases the key logistic associations they are in that their ideal customers will recognize.

So look through your industry associations and add in any membership badges or certifications onto your website (or you can just showcase their logos).

Just note that at the end of the day – results will always trump accreditations or associations.

This tactic should be a stepping stone that has to be enhanced with real-world results once you grow your client base.


4 Things to Start Today to Further Boost Your Credibility

While the above six credibility-borrowing strategies will give you a good headstart, it is not the end all and be all.

You will have to continue to build your credibility continuously through real tangible means – no more drawing inspirations from the thin air or leaning on your team’s experience.


Start A Blog or YouTube Channel

Credible businesses share their thoughts on their industry trends as well as giving value to their audiences – solving key problems their prospects face (or entertaining them if its B2C)

Even if you are selling a serious product such as a technology software or you’re in a ‘boring’ industry such as accounting, there is still value you can bring to your ideal customers.

Mint, a budget planning tool, utilizes their blog to cement their authority in the financial space by giving targeted advice to their readers – tackling everyday issues that their customers face.

Whether it is in the written format through blogging or through videos, seek to add value to their lives and you will start to build long-term credibility (not to mention the incredible SEO and inbound marketing benefits).

Not sure how to proceed?

We have a strategy that will allow you to formulate your blogging strategy from scratch right here.


Go After Iconic Brands

People identify with the big brand titans out in the market and if you are seen working with them, that means your company is credible and trustworthy.

If you are in the B2B space, signing them on as clients is the most direct and effective way (then showcase their brand logos under your client section on your website)

If you are in the B2C space and if it makes sense, seek to forge mutual partnerships with these brands for that brand recognition and to also tap into their audiences.

SEMrush proudly showcases their biggest clients, highlighting brands that everyone will recognize.


Close As Many Customers As Possible

Quantity has a quality of its own.

Having 10 customers vs 1,000 clients – which sounds better?

When it comes to people’s perception of your credibility, having more clients under your belt is indicative of your experience and quality of service.

Closing more sales doesn’t just benefit your bottom-line but also increase the experience of your team and the public perception of your company.

Dropbox’s customer page gives readers a chance to see how many customers have signed up for the solution, utilizing the power of popularity.


Invest In Public Relations (PR)

Public relations isn’t dead, it is in fact quite crucial. Whether you outsource it to a PR agency or decide to have your own in-house marketing to get it done, conducting PR is key to the growth.

What you are specifically looking for is the exposure on credible news outlets for both the media’s brand recognition and the attention of their audience.

These can include old-school news outlets to niche blogs such as TechCrunch, an online technology publisher.

In fact, one of our clients got themselves featured on an interview on FOX Business news, allowing them to use showcase the interview on their website.


Don’t Waste Your Credibility Building Efforts

Avoid These 2 Things!

Impatience is your enemy, kill it before it kills your business.

When it comes to establishing your authority many businesses tend to stretch the truth on these two things on their website and marketing materials – people are not as dumb as you think, they can spot it.

Oh, I’m going to assume you already know faking anything isn’t good. These are the gray area stuff that you might probably face and should definitely avoid.


Avoid Twisting Brand Associations

Let’s say you are running a Saas company and you just did a free trial for a big company like HSBC bank or Walmart.

Resist the temptation to list them as paying clients – wait until they really are full-fledged customers.

List your current clients (no matter show small they might be) and get their reviews and work your way up. It might be slower but you will go further.


Avoid Influencer Associations Without Permission

We all have our favorite influencers in our business niche. Whether it is the dog whisperer Cesar Milan or the legendary life coach Anthony Robbins, won’t it be great if we can leverage their names (and faces) to boost our business credibility?

In short – unless you have written permission or an agreement with your idol, don’t slap their faces into your marketing materials or even mention they might be part of it.

Case in point, Josh Steimle tried to associate marketing icon Gary Vaynerchuk into a summit he was planning to hold to get Gary’s attention – and it didn’t turn out as he expected (he almost got sued!)

Always set a solid foundation for your business reputation, don’t attempt to build your credibility on a house of cards.

And that’s where this guide comes in, not only will it help get you started with your journey to authority status, it is white-hat and legitimate, allowing you to sleep at night with a clear conscience.


Start Building Your Authority Today!

While the following 6 steps are simple and direct, implementing them will take some effort but we are confident you can make it happen.

We hope the guide above will give you that much needed initial boost for your business to rise up to the clouds!

Have a question or want us to help with your business journey through masterful content marketing or copywriting?

Drop me a mail at and let’s work magic together!

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