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Without trust, there’s no loyalty. And without loyalty, there’s no business.

Most of us know this.

It’s why we work hard to build a credible and trustworthy brand.

But what if you’re just starting out and have yet to book any guests or sell any products? Can you still build credibility?

The answer is yes.

While it may take some time and effort, there are ways to quickly build credibility even if you haven’t had any bookings or sales yet.

Here’s what’s worked for me and other surf biz clients I’ve partnered with in the past — I’m 100% sure they’ll work for you too.

Let’s get into it.

Why is credibility important?

Why do people buy surfboards from the big brands when there are literally hundreds of other surfboard shapers out there with the same skills, tools and knowledge?

Why are we drawn towards major surf experience providers when there are plenty of smaller, local businesses offering similar services?

Is there a difference in the quality of products or services?

Maybe. But more often than not, it’s because those big brands and providers have established credibility and trust with their target audience.

When people feel confident that a business can deliver on its promises, they’re more likely to buy from them.

It’s as simple as that.

So how do you build credibility?

The problem arises when you’re just starting your surf business.

You don’t have the winning record, so to speak, that you can point to as proof of your credibility.

When I launched The Surfing Copywriter, credibility was one thing that I really worked hard for.

So hard, in fact, that I actually reached out to numerous big-name surf publications and offered to write for them… for free!

It sounds crazy now that I think about it. Working for free isn’t a fast path to success.

But by writing for these well-known brands, I was able to get my name and my work in front of their large audiences.

What I’ve since discovered is that there are way more effective ways to quickly build credibility.

10 strategies for building trust and credibility as a fresh-faced surf business owner

Below are 10 strategies that will work wonders for any brand just starting out. The best part is that it doesn’t matter what type of surf-specific business your launching.

You could be a physiotherapist who focuses on rehabing surfers, a high-performance surf coach or a surfboard shaper.

All of the following strategies can be personalised to your unique business, so don’t be afraid to get creative and make them your own.

#1 / Ensure your website is tip-top

Unless you own a physical store or retail space, the vast majority of first-impressions of your business will be made based on your website.

And with 75% of people judging a business’ credibility based on its website design, making sure yours is top-notch should be your first priority.

Pay attention to things like navigation, user experience and design elements.

Make sure it’s visually appealing and easy to use.

At the very least, make sure you start off on the right foot by choosing the correct website platform for your brand.

Because the only thing worse than not having a website is having one that sucks.

#2 / Create high-quality content on a consistent basis

Maybe you don’t have a bunch of fancy testimonials or referral stories to post online.

That doesn’t mean you can’t showcase your expertise and knowledge through high-quality content.

Whether it’s blog posts (which 81% of people trust), videos, podcasts or social media posts, consistently producing valuable and relevant content will not only establish you as an authority in the industry but also build trust with your audience.

Just make sure to research your target audience and create content that speaks directly to their needs and interests.

#3 / Be active on social media

Like it or not, social media is a major pillar of brand credibility.

I know for myself that if I hear about a nice surf camp or retreat, the first thing I do is check out their social media pages.

It gives me a better sense of what to expect and if they’re worth my time and money.

I don’t make decisions based on the quality of their Instagram or Facebook pages, mind you. But I can’t deny that it plays a role in how credible I perceive the business to be.

So make sure your social media pages are up-to-date, engaging and visually appealing. And most importantly, use them consistently to showcase your brand’s personality and values.

#4 / Participate in surf business-specific Facebook and Linkedin groups

I despise the word “hussle”. I’m more of the “rest as a form of rebellion” movement than the “rise and grind” one.

But the reality is if you’re just starting out, you may have to put yourself out there a bit more than usual.

This includes joining Facebook and Linkedin groups specific to the surf business industry.

For example, if you run a surf camp in Lombok that’s just opened up, join a few Indonesian surfing Facebook groups and participate in discussions.

It’s a simple yet effective way to get your name out there, and it allows you to quickly start building relationships with potential customers and industry professionals.

#5 / Make sure to upload any testimonials you receive ASAP

Unless you’ve managed to sell to family and friends and wrangle testimonials from them, you probably haven’t got any yet.

That’s ok.

But when you do start getting feedback, make sure to upload it to your website as soon as possible!

Testimonials are pure gold for building credibility.

They’re unbiased and genuine opinions from real customers, which speaks volumes to potential buyers.

Remember, 70% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know, and 92% of people will trust a recommendation from some they do.

That’s power!

Testimonials are just written recommendations posted to your website, so make sure to collect them from all buyers or guests and get them online ASAP.

#6 / Offer a guarantee on your ‘Home’ page

Which of the below sentences sounds more impactful?

  • We are confident you will love our surf lessons.
  • If you’re not satisfied with your first surf lesson, we’ll give you your money back!

The second one, right?

That’s because by offering a guarantee or warranty on your product or service, you are essentially giving people peace of mind and showing that you stand behind what you offer.

Even if it’s a simple satisfaction guarantee, make sure to include it on your website’s ‘Home’ or ‘Services’ pages.

#7 / Collaborate with influencers in your local area

Influencers can be kinda cringe, but hey… at least they’re putting themselves out there and making a living.

Sure, most of them sell their souls (and sell out surf breaks), but some of them have a real, engaged audience that trusts their recommendations.

And if you can work with an influencer who aligns with your brand’s values and target audience, it could be a great way to get your name out there and build credibility.

Work together on creating engaging content or special promotions for their followers.

Not only will it give you exposure to a wider audience, but it will also lend credibility to your brand through the influencer’s endorsement.

#8 / Ensure your ‘About’ page has an honest brand creation story

Brand storytelling has been shown to increase customer conversions by 30%.

In addition, 55% of people more likely to buy from you in the future if they love your brand story.

Statistics aside, don’t you just respect a really well-crafted, emotionally-engaging tale?

I know I do, which is why having an honest and engaging brand creation story on your website’s ‘About’ page can be a powerful tool for building credibility.

Don’t just list off generic accomplishments or platitudes.

Share the struggles, successes and passion behind your brand.

This will not only connect with potential customers but also show that there are real people behind the business who care about what they do.

#9 / Respond to customer inquiries and reviews in a professional manner

Don’t leave people hanging.

If someone has taken the time to reach out to you, make sure to respond in a timely and professional manner.

This could be through social media direct messages, email or even responding to reviews on your website or other platforms.

By actively engaging with customers and addressing any concerns or questions they may have, you are showing that you value their feedback and are dedicated to providing excellent customer service.

#10 / Give away a freebie

Last but not least… give away freebies!

Everyone loves free stuff, whether it’s a simple e-guide on Indonesia’s best surf breaks, a detailed tutorial on how to do a proper pop-up or even a free session at your surf camp.

By offering something of value for free, you are not only showcasing your expertise and knowledge in the industry but also giving potential customers a taste of what they can expect from your products or services.

And who doesn’t love trying before they buy?

It’s a great way to build trust and credibility with your audience.

Just make sure the freebie is relevant to your brand and target audience, and you’ll be on your way to building a loyal following.

Final thoughts

Let’s be real here. As a surf biz owner just hitting the ground, you’ve got an uphill battle on your hands.

The good news is that by implementing these tips, you can start building credibility and trust with potential customers and industry professionals without already having guests or clients.

Implement them all or pick and choose, but just remember to stay authentic and don’t be afraid to spread the word about your awesome surf business!