“I’m great at what I do. Trust me.”
You probably wouldn’t say this to a client or customer. And with good reason: to convince folks of your value, you need to show them, not just assert it with a wink and a nod.
You might not have stats at the ready to demonstrate the effectiveness of your work – but luckily, you don’t need them. The easier way to prove your worth? With awards and certifications.
We interrupt this message for some shameless self-promotion…
My website, www.FreelanceWritingSolutions.com, recently won a WebAward for Outstanding Website from the Web Marketing Association. Yay! First of all, I love being able to hang the handsome plaque on my office wall. Second, and even better, I’m allowed to use the award logo on all my marketing materials. You better believe I will – especially on my website, right on the home page where no one can miss it.
All kidding aside, awards and certifications are the simplest means I know to impressing a client. In marketing, you should constantly focus on giving your clients confidence in your ability to help them. And that’s what awards and certifications do, instantly.
A Tale of Two Websites
Take my website as an example. If you were looking for a freelance writer and came across my site, you’d notice my Web Marketing Association award logo right away. This would encourage you to stay on my site a little longer, and you might click over to my Credentials page. There you’d see that I’m certified to write SEO (search engine optimized) web copy, that I belong to three different professional organizations, and that over the past several years I’ve won ten awards for my work.
Now, what if you found another freelance writer’s site, and he had no awards or certifications? I would instantly appear to be the better bet, even if his experience were comparable.
Enter My Dirty Little Secret
Want to hear the best part about awards and certifications? They’re not too hard to get. If you’re even halfway good at what you do, they can land in your lap with relatively no effort on your part.
Yet, to your clients, it doesn’t matter how easy it was to earn the recognition. All they see is that much needed validation that you’re not a huckster and you actually know your stuff. (The fancy term for this is “social proof.”)
Go Grab Some Awards and Certificates
If it’s not hard to get them, how exactly do you do it? Here are some tips…
- Google it. Do a Google search on “awards [your industry],” and investigate the top 5 results. Make it a habit to apply for an award at least twice a year. Chances are, at some point, you’ll garner recognition.
- Don’t forget local. Search for awards offered by your local newspaper, business journal, or chamber of commerce. Then look for statewide opportunities. The competition will be lower, and your local clients might appreciate them more.
- Consider a certificate in something you already know. Even if you’re well schooled in a particular area, you might want to shell out a few bucks to get that slip of paper signifying your knowledge. For instance, I had been writing SEO web copy for several years before I completed a certification program. Although there wasn’t a lot new for me to learn, the certification has been VERY helpful in quantifying my SEO experience for prospective clients. Before, I’d have to explain that I knew what I was doing, and the client would just have to trust me. Now, the client sees my certification and instantly sees me as an expert. It’s helped me close many new projects.
- Think outside the box. Paul Feith owns Paul Gregory Media, a marketing firm that I frequently partner with. Paul Gregory Media is BBB-certified. Initially, this didn’t make sense to me. I think of plumbers or electricians when I think of BBB businesses, not marketing firms. But Paul explained that this certification really resonates with some of the service firms that are his clients. Paul said, “Some industries value particular certifications over others. For example, building, plumbing and electrical contractors typically value BBB ratings in their industry, and so it makes sense for them to find their vendors through the same source. By certifying my business through BBB, I was able to qualify my business and gain a competitive advantage in that demographic.”
Then Spread the Word – And Make It Rain
How can you get the most out of your awards and certifications? Use them EVERYWHERE. Put them on your website and in your brochures. Include them in proposals. Add them to your email signature. Highlight them with online and offline press releases. And anywhere else you can think of.
Remember: Obtaining awards and certifications doesn’t have to take a ton of effort … but it can be INCREDIBLY effective in building instant credibility with your clients. That’s what you call a “win-win”!