Trust building is one of the most important elements of your marketing strategy as a consultant. After narrowing your positioning, getting in front of your prospects, and connecting with them, your last goal is to make them believe you could improve or transform their business.
This is when reliability must be discussed. Together with credibility and intimacy, they form the 3 pillars of every trusting relationship. Let's see what it means, and what you need to be seen as a reliable expert by prospects and clients.
What Reliability Means
If you look in the dictionary, reliability is defined as "the quality of being of performing consistently well." What we can all agree is that, in the consulting world, reliability is very much focused on actions.
A person will see you as reliable when they think "I can trust that he will do what he says." It's delivering on your marketing promises, even when they are not explicit.
Therefore, the only way to increase perceived reliability is to show proof that you have repeatedly fulfilled expectations.
Increasing Reliability Among Prospects
Prospects or general connections who never worked with you can't evaluate your reliability through personal engagement, so they look for signs and heuristics to make a call.
Sometimes this process is rational, when they're actively exploring your digital presence and researching your background. But very often the judgment will be unconscious, as they consume your content or scroll through your marketing platforms.
The best ways to increase your perceived reliability are:
- Add social proof to marketing platforms. Make it easier for people to read testimonials of previous clients, relevant case studies, logos of big brands you've worked with (or media outlets that featured you).
- Create and sustain a standardized brand identity. Use the same logo, fonts, and colors in your website, stationery materials (cards, envelopes, stickers), sales collateral (proposals and presentations).
- Communicate frequently through owned platforms. When your social media posts or newsletters are published sporadically or in a discontinuous way, you are sending a sign your business and engagements are also inconsistent. Pick a frequency that works for you, and stick to it.
Increasing Reliability Among Clients
Once you start working with a given person or team, increasing reliability comes down to one single rule: You should make specific commitments to the client around small things, and then deliver on them quietly and on time.
Here are some examples:
- Send meeting materials in advance.
- Reconfirm scheduled events before they happen. In the case of changes to the date, attendants, or topics to be discussed, share those as soon as they happen.
- Review agendas with your client, before meetings and discussions. Clients should know what you have already agreed with, what were the commitments each party assumed the last time you spoke, and if those were delivered.
How many of those initiatives can be improved in your consulting business?