The Importance of Reputation for Small Businesses

Surveys and reports reveal that a growing number of consumers distrust companies. Two-thirds of consumers across 14 countries feel it’s becoming harder to trust what breaks say and do.

There has been increasing unrest and distrust towards corporations for many years – particularly among the younger generations. Millennials and Generation Zers are more likely to purchase goods from a small to medium-sized business – but only if they trust you.

In the age of online reviews and social media sharing, earning the trust of consumers has never been easier. Word of mouth is printed on online platforms and around 90% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchasing decision.

Social proof carries a lot of weight for SMEs. If you offer excellent customer service, reliable products, a high level of competency and the right intent, building your online reputation will see you attract more customers.

Advertising Trust Signals

In addition to customer reviews and testimonials, there are a number of ways to promote trust on your website using recognised trust signals. For example, money-back guarantee, listing associations and partners you have connections with together with established media platforms you have been published in.

However, these types of trust signals are losing their weight given the growing distrust of institutions, mainstream media and government associations.

Furthermore, review sites and testimonials can be faked. When you use trust signals, you need to demonstrate they are genuine. For example, take a screenshot of a genuine email or social media post you received and publish it in the testimonial section of your website.

New trust indicators are required that illustrate your competency, commitment to great customer service, your contribution to the community and the fight against climate change.

Data Protection


Another key trust indicator is how well you look after personal data. It’s well known that despite GDPR, there is still a market for selling customer data. This may be because businesses are selling customer data or the information was acquired in a data breach.

The growing threat of hackers is the biggest threat to a SMEs trustworthiness in the eyes of consumers. According to reports, around 60% of companies close their doors within six months of a data breach due to the number of lost customers.

Trust in smaller brands is not helped by reports in mainstream media claiming small business owners are not concerned about cybersecurity. A survey revealed that 73% of small businesses have not installed appropriate cybersecurity measures.

Small business owners can take advantage by assuring customers and prospects that you do take cybersecurity seriously and outline the steps you have taken to ensure the data they give you will be protected.

Offering advice to your customers to ensure they are aware of the latest hacking techniques can also give you kudos. For example, show them how they can check emails they receive from you are genuine and not spoofed.

The reputation of your brand is a critical asset for companies of all sizes, but more so for small businesses without a bottomless pit of funds to mount a successful PR campaign. If you focus on trust as an asset, building a successful brand reputation becomes tangible, strategic, measurable and quantifiable.