Standing Out Online By Improving Your Offline Legitimacy

Standing out on the web seems like an impossible feat these days, with new blogs springing up by the minute and everyone and their mother touting new ways to make money online. While there are plenty of steps you can take to stand out and improve your online reputation, there is one area of consideration that is continually overlooked: how you appear offline.

Offline indicators are referenced more often than we think and taking the time to improve them can give you an easy leg up on the competition, especially when they havenít even stopped to consider what their offline profile even looks like.† Although the following areas can cost a little bit of money to get established, they go along away in terms of improving your brand and will definitely provide a healthy return on investment in the long run.

Register your business

You can operate a blog and accept payments via PayPal in your own name, but forming an LLC or corporation gives you the opportunity to operate under a formal corporate identity. This formal registration will come in handy in numerous different situations, from shielding your personal identity to getting listed in directories to making customers more comfortable doing business with you. Most people feel more comfortable sending money to or contracting with an actual business, so you should definitely take the leap and register your company today.

Registering a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is probably the route best suited for online businesses and blogs, and registering one is as simple as filing a few pieces of paper with your state. LegalZoom is a good place to get this taken care of.

List a mailing address

A physical location where you can be found is best, but most online businesses donít have a formal office and thus canít list their address. This is fine. A P.O. Box from your local post office will do the trick, and it costs less than $100 per year (in most areas).

With a P.O. Box, you gain a mailing address in your locality that you can list as your business address and utilize to accept business related correspondence. It goes great on your ďContact UsĒ page and can be set up in the name of your business (if youíve gone through the previous step already). Obviously more dubious operations can obtain a P.O. Box as well, so having one isnít your ticket to legitimacy, but having a mailing address in combination with the other items listed here will work wonders.

Publish a phone number

Not many thieves of conmen make it easy to reach them on the phone, which is why publishing a phone number associated with your business is a great way to improve your legitimacy. Thanks to Google Voice, establishing a dedicated phone number is amazingly easy to do, and free.

You can keep this step free by simply recording your own formal voicemail greeting and asking callers to leave the message. To step things up to the next level, you may consider forwarding calls to your cell phone and answering in the name of your business, or hiring a small business answering service to answer calls on your behalf.

For a monthly fee, an answering service will answer in the name of your firm and follow specific instructions that you lay out for them, including scripting for specific types of calls and methods for delivering your messages. This step is probably overkill for most small businesses, but it does add a level of professionalism that isnít easily found on the web. If people can travel to your website, find a phone number, and then actually dial that number to reach a live person, it says a lot about your operation.

Conclusion

These are just a few things you can do offline that will ultimately help you stand out on the web. Each will allow you to expand the information available on your business, help people research and contact you, and clearly distinguish you from other websites that arenít as formally established.

Do you have your own tips for improving your legitimacy and standing out from the competition? Please share them and help add to this list!

About Gere Jordan

Gere Jordan works in business development and operations at Continental Message Solution, Inc. (CMS), a small business answering service and call center based in Columbus, Ohio. He has experience designing and implementing effective call center solutions and improving communication workflows.

Comments

  1. I guess a small bio about the people who are behind the website / blog with their prior experiences / offline associations would also help them establish a higher credential. But then, people are also using their online presence (websites) to establish an offline credibility these days!

  2. Lennart Heleander from Property Marbella says:

    Hi Gere,
    The more you profile yourself seriously with a company, business registration number, telephone number (no answering machine), address, manager at companies, banking and banking information, professional business cards, etc. the more confidence you create for your business and the more business gets done.

  3. I agree that a small bio on who are behind the website.

    Also it will be good to have a Virtual Assistant to help you out in your Online Business and making sure he/she have a good experience. This can double your time and of course double your income.

    The good part is when your having a vacation there is still someone working on your business.

  4. These are some great tips as not everyone recognizes how beneficial offline measures can be for a business. Listing a phone number and letting your customers call you is great for customer confidence and can go a long way for your business. You nailed down that point well. I won’t consider doing too much online business unless the company has a listed phone number.

  5. Offline marketing is underrated these days but many people don’t realize that having an offline identity will make you more trustworthy and will increase your reputation, so doing a few simple things like the ones you mention can really boost your online sales

    Kostas | OpportunitiesPlanet

    • Absolutely right. Aside from offline marketing seem to gather local audience it also needs to exert more effort to let people know what we are talking about. In other words, we will manually go in some places or events. Better yet, as mentioned above “reputation” is gained here. That is essential in making sales.

  6. @Marketing Philosophy:
    I agree with you. Name recognition is still a very important job for a new(er) company. Thanks for sharing this post with us.

  7. Hi Gere,
    Awesome article. With all the scammers online and off, we have to do everything we can to show that we are legitimate and have come to do business. You made some very strong and important points. Thank you so much for sharing.

  8. I guess we can also do a lot of promotion offline. But this will involve some investment of course.

  9. I agree. If we seriuos, we shall register our business.

  10. These days offline and online integrated marketing is really attracting traction. We can see website url and interestingly facebook url in tv and paper advertisements.

    • Agree with you Sam. There are lots of opportunities offline and many underrated these options that is why getting there is a sprint. Let’s race! :)