Last time, I wrote about use of referrals with collaborating businesses. Endorsements may seem similar but they are not. They apply between levels 3 and 4 on the Awareness Ladder, where the business owner demonstrates credibility.
Why Use Endorsements?
Referrals are private and endorsements public. A referral is between two businesses and a prospect. It is tailored to the needs of the prospect. As such it sits comfortably at rung 3 of the Awareness Ladder, where the prospect chooses your business.
Endorsements help where the prospect moves to rung 4. They like what they see but ask how credible is this operation? An endorsement from a similar business may help establish your business credentials.
Endorsements may help lower down the Awareness Ladder. For example, an endorsement on your home page might encourage visitors to explore further. However, they are most powerful where a prospect decides they like the look of your business and seeks reassurance they’ve made the right choice.
Do you trumpet endorsements on your home page, so every visitor sees them or hide them away until the prospect seeks reassurance they have made the right choice?
Pros and Cons
Endorsements transfer credibility from the endorsing business to the endorsed. This implies the endorsing business is better positioned in terms of reputation. Is it possible for two businesses of approximately equal reputation to endorse each other? It’s possible but they need to agree how each uses the endorsement.
Consider the degree of trust involved. Do you trust the business you endorse as much as your own? You do not want to endorse something that generates a poor reputation.
The endorsing business might endorse businesses complementary to their own offers. They may readily concede the endorsed business is better at some product or service.
Endorsements are essentially irreversible. You could ask the endorsed business to remove mentions of your endorsement from their literature. However, old leaflets and blog posts may still carry the endorsement. This is why trust is important. Endorsements are hard to remove once established and not because the endorsed organisation is being awkward.
There are benefits for both endorsing and endorsed organisations. The fact one organisation is in a position to endorse others speaks volumes for its reputation. Indeed, the endorsed organisation is unlikely to display an endorsement from an organisation it believes to be inferior.
This is where endorsements can backfire. What happens if the prospect decides the endorsing organisation is more credible?
Working closely with another business could be seen as endorsement. This may not be a problem where collaboration is private but where it is visible, it can be interpreted as endorsement. Bear that in mind as you consider formal approaches.
You could argue testimonials are a species of endorsement. Testimonials are from customers, whilst endorsements are from other businesses in the same or a relevant field. If you provide a service for an established organisation and they offer a testimonial, ask whether you can use it as an endorsement. Discuss how it might be displayed appropriately.
Normally, where one business endorses another, it allows them to use its logo or branding for certain purposes. The endorsed organisation should not be permitted to use it in any way they see fit. Endorsements are usually labelled as such and occupy a certain space on the endorsed business’s website or literature. You certainly don’t want to look as if you are a part of the endorsing organisation. Always check that the endorsing organisation is happy with the use you make of its logo.
You can add a link to the endorsing organisation into the logo. This may draw some prospects to the endorsing organisation. But if the offer from the endorsed organisation is sufficiently different, this should not be a problem. Try it and see whether it makes a difference. If it doesn’t, probably best to leave it be.
There are other things organisations do together and one of those is to help out with one another’s customers. The topic for next time.