“Elise” consults for nonprofit groups, and she’s great at her job. Most of her business has come from word of mouth. But Elise knew that if she could channelize her efforts, she could reach thousands – if not millions – of potential clients. So she began marketing her services with a website, e-mails, and postcards.

Her promotional copy was filled with bold claims about how much she could do for her clients – and it bombed.

Why? According to Judy Murdoch, a consultant with the National Business Association, Elise’s failure was likely the result of neglecting to establish trust with her target audience.

Because most of Elise’s clients have come from referrals, she never had to worry about trust. It was built into the referrals. But it’s different when you’re marketing through written advertising channels. “The less personal the communication, the more important it becomes to first establish trust with your prospects,” says Murdoch.

Here are two ways to do it:

* Make bold claims – but back them up with proof. If, for example, Elise had mentioned in her copy that she regularly doubles or triples the donations her clients bring in, prospects would have reason to believe her claims about what she could do for them.

* Provide testimonials from satisfied clients. Testimonials are the written equivalent of the word-of-mouth referrals responsible for building Elise’s business in the first place. By including them in her promotional copy, she elevates her credibility.

[Ed. Note: Paul Lawrence is a successful small-business entrepreneur who has started over 12 profitable enterprises. For more information on his Cheapskate Entrepreneurs instructional CD program, click here.]

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Paul Lawrence

Paul Lawrence is an entrepreneur who has made his living starting and running a series of profitable businesses. One day while cleaning his mother's pool for a few extra bucks, it dawned on Paul that he could perhaps start his own pool cleaning business. He carefully employed all the marketing techniques that he had learned in school and designed his first flyer. Immediately the business took off and within a week, Paul had his own little business. He quickly expanded, hired employees and then eventually sold it some relatives who made well over $250,000 in the next year before they eventually sold it for a six figure profit. After finishing college, Paul did a brief stint in a management program for a national rental company, but he quickly realized that he was much happier running his own show. Paul left the rental company and launched one of the most financially successful independent ballroom dance instruction companies in the state of Florida where he received quite a bit of media attention for his revolutionary business practices that included front page features in the Life Style section of the Sun Sentinel, features in the Miami Herald, Boca News, Center Stage Entertainment and many others. With that business running profitably, Paul started several other businesses either individually or as partnerships that included a million dollar video production company, a mortgage brokerage, a home maintenance business, several mail order companies, a business consulting service among others.With a love of movies, Paul began to work at breaking into Hollywood as a screenwriter where he's beaten the odds by becoming a produced writer. He is a credited writer for the film CRUEL WORLD, starring Jaime Presley and Eddie Furlong and has signed a development deal for a national television series with one of the world's largest producers of television and films among his half a dozen sales and options of movie scripts he wrote. Paul is the creator of the Quick & Easy Microbusiness program.