This is a guest post by Michael Martine
Let me ask you a question: have you ever trusted someone instantly?
Instant trust? Nope!
I can’t speak for every person in every situation, but almost surely not!
You don’t instantly trust a complete stranger. It just isn’t done. And with good reason: people get burned. No, you must first get to know a person. Only then may trust take root, and even then it’s not guaranteed. This is because it’s subjective and based on the context in which you’re interacting with other people. It’s because it’s based on how much congruency there is between what others say and what they do.
Actions do indeed speak louder than words, and trust takes time.
Every promise kept, every chance to fulfill taken, every chance to harm or neglect passed by, every deed congruent with the words that preceded it: these build up trust over time. Think of others’ trust in you like a bank account. You can either make deposits or withdrawals. If you withdraw everything or overdraft your “trust account,” you may not ever recover from that. Or it may take a very long time to even try. The depositing rules for “trust accounts” are strange: you just can’t make big deposits. Only small ones, over time. Imagine only being able to deposit up to $0.29 per day, maximum, in a real bank, and you’ll have an idea of what I’m trying to convey here.
That’s how trust is built up.
At odds with marketing
And yet as soon as you try to learn about marketing you are inundated with all manner of trust-shattering tactics and strategies. All manner of tricks to try and get people to do what you want, even if they don’t want to.
If you can convince someone to buy something in the course of a single sales letter, that’s not trust.
It’s trickery. The kind that leads to buyer’s remorse, refund requests, disputed payments, chargebacks, and bad word-of-mouth. Is that what you want to be known for?
Trust simply does not develop that quickly.
Trying to move a prospect along a sales funnel at a “faster than trust” speed results in no trust and no sale, because the prospect felt rushed and pressured by your tactics, and naturally they rebelled. In the old days, you went out hunting for prospects, and when you found them you cold-called, set up an appointment, and strong-armed your way to a sale (ever had a vacuum cleaner salesperson come to your house?). Not that you’d want to, anyway, but you can’t really do that on the internet.
How it works now is that on the internet, your prospects are trying to find the answers they seek as they try to educate themselves prior to any purchasing decision. What you want is for them to find you. What you want is for you to be the information source which educates them far in advance of the actual decision to buy. This is what content marketing does.
The better the content, the more popular, visited, and linked-to it is. The higher it rises in search engine results. The more often it is shared on social media. Then your prospect finds it and consumes it and the most tender, fragile roots of trust are established.
Pushing for a sale at this early point is like taking a seed that has just barely sprouted, ripping it out of the soil, flinging it to the ground, and crushing it to a paste beneath your boot heel. What that seed needs is time. Time to grow. Time for trust to grow.
If you want to build trust in your readers so they become customers, avoid these “trust-breakers.”
- Making promises you can’t keep. I cringe at all the times I had stated somewhere there was going to another webinar or a follow-up ebook or program to the current one and then never followed through. Don’t say you’re going to post every day and then fail to deliver. Don’t say you’re going to have a weekly email newsletter and then fail to write one for an entire month.
- Leading people on with promises as a form of “engagement trickery.” This is something I see done a lot. I have no problem with delivering a free webinar that’s designed to sell a product, but don’t act like deep secrets are going to be revealed only to just deliver a product pitch instead. Worse yet is when that product also fails to deliver, yet promises more in a higher-priced product upsell. This kind of marketing is blatantly deceptive.
- Saying whatever it takes to get a sale and then unwittingly contradicting yourself. People who are only after money will sometimes say anything to get it, like a junkie trying to scam grandma out of a few dollars to afford the next fix. You may not think of yourself as being “that bad,” but it’s surprisingly easy to do when you’re on the hunt for a sale and you smell blood. If you talk to a lot of people it’s easy to forget what you said to each one, but they’ll remember what you said to them. And if you contradicted yourself, they’ll catch it and then your game is up.
- Presenting your opinions as if they were fact and having no proof. When you get going on a blog post and get “into the flow” it’s easy to cut corners and end up talking out of your rear end. In your haste to publish something, anything, you haven’t cited any sources or fact-checked anything. It takes very little time to conduct a search in order to bolster your opinions. Doing so lends you credibility and authority. But you skip it in your rush to publish and move on to the next thing on your to-do list. In a slow marketing approach, you take the time to write well and edit your writing. You back up what you’re saying with links to other web pages.
Now let’s take a look at some things that build up trust over time:
- Genuine engagement in order to listen and learn. People who feel like they’re listened to will respond in a more positive way. This is taught in successful customer service training for sales reps to deal with irate customers (Starbucks, for example). Online, listening and learning takes place mostly in blog comments and on social media. And, surprise: it takes time, because you’re gathering these little gems of customer intelligence over the long haul. But then when you employ what you’ve learned for the benefit of both your customers and you, the trust you’ve earned also earns the sale.
- Mastering the art of the pleasant surprise. I was originally going to call this “under-promising and over-delivering,” but that’s too manipulative and disingenuous and not trust-building at all if people suspect you of simply putting on an act. Instead, think in terms of shaping a delightful customer experience. Of delivering pleasant surprises instead of what is merely expected.
- Consistency and regularity. With content marketing, consistency breeds trust. If you pick a day of the week for a certain type of content, you must be consistent with that or people will notice. Your email newsletter and regular blog features must go out like clockwork and never fail. People come to expect them and as soon as you fail to deliver your trust has taken a huge hit. Fulfilling your promise builds trust over time.
- Being your own best example, following your own advice. There’s an old saying: no matter how deep of a hole you dig, you’ll always be down there with at least one hypocrite. In my years of running my own online business and helping clients with their blog marketing, one of the most difficult challenges both me and my clients have ever faced is simply following our own advice! But walking your own talk is a huge trust-builder. The proof of what you say is there for all to see because you are being your own best example.
Exercise: make a trust-building plan
To help you get a grip on trust-building, ask yourself this question: for what things do you want to be trusted?
You can write down, “People trust me (or my business name) because…” and finish the statement. But don’t write down your current reality. Write down what you want your reality to be. Then write down, step by step, how you plan to get there. To help you do that, ask yourself: “What needs to happen for me to become trustworthy in…” and then list out those steps.
Now you have a trust-building plan.
Trust and accountability go hand-in-hand. To make sure you can stick to your trust-building plan, get an accountability buddy to share it with so she or he can help you stay accountable (even better if you can do the same for your buddy, too). If you are part of a mastermind group or a forum, you’ll probably be able to find partners there.
Trust takes time. Resist the fast and dirty “easy marketing tricks” and work to establish trust. It’s worth your time.
About the Author
Michael Martine is the force behind Remarkablogger.com, where infopreneurs go for cutting-edge blog marketing information and training.