Trust: Your Most Precious Marketing Asset – and How to Gain It

These days it’s a precious commodity in business, and could even be a differentiator in the market if you can earn it and demonstrate it. Research has found that it’s a greater determinant of success than anything else, and isn’t based so much on what we might think. And it can actually be gained quickly.

Trust has been defined as “feeling safe when vulnerable”, or “a firm belief or confidence in the character, strength, or truth of someone or something”. It’s the glue of society that enables relationships to function and people to do business. Just 100 years ago it was taken for granted in a lot of places and all you had to do was persuade people to buy your products or services. Now it’s different.

Why Your Business Will Stand or Fall on It

It’s been said that the big aim of marketing is to earn and nurture trust. It has priceless value for your brand and reputation. Without at least a basic level of it, no one will buy from you. The higher the level of trust; the more business you’ll get.

Trust is a key especially in recession, where you can be seen as a safe solution for risk-averse, cash-strapped prospects. They need assurance that they’ll get what they need – and more value than the money they spend.

Research has shown that trust has far-reaching benefits that aren’t obvious. It actually enables you to get things done with efficiency, ease, and success.

Proven Reality From Research

Trusted Advisor Associates analyzed data from over 72,000 survey respondents on what creates trustworthiness. Contrary to popular thinking, they found that more expertise is not the key to building trust in business and professional situations. It’s more to do with the ‘soft skills’ of underlying beliefs, values, and principles, not just outward behaviour, so it’s way too complex to fake.

The formula they developed is: Trustworthiness = [Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy]/ Self-Orientation

  1. Credibility is in what we say – being knowledgeable and truthful
  2. Reliability is in what we do – dependable and predictable delivery
  3. Intimacy is about safety in close proximity – the security felt when entrusting us with something precious
  4. Self-orientation is the focus of our motives and attention – whether on ourself or others

They also found that trust can actually be gained quite quickly if the above equation is favourable. In fact most people decide to trust or not almost instantaneously through a mix of rational and emotional judgment.

Trust Factors in Simple Terms

Trust can also simply be seen as having two parts: ‘ability’ and ‘attitude’.

Ability is the means or skill to do something – basically: “they know what they’re doing” i.e. competence.

Attitude is the motivation for doing something – basically: “they mean well” i.e. honesty, integrity, fairness, and care about others’ interests.

You may acknowledge someone’s ability, but if you can’t trust them to look after your interests, it’s not safe. Successful criminals have great ability. On the other hand, with just attitude, you may like someone enough, but you won’t risk your money with them if they don’t know what they’re doing.

We need to prove both aspects to our target market. First, we need to build a case to prove our ability – rationally convincing prospects’ minds. Second, we need to convey an attitude that makes them feel good about approaching us – appealing to their emotions.

A Practical Way to Establish Trust

Prospects do due diligence on your company by looking at client feedback – on your ‘ability’ and ‘attitude’. This speaks louder than blowing your own trumpet. The good news is you don’t have to wait for this feedback to land on your plate; you can get it whenever you want, assuming you’ve satisfied a few clients!

If you can capture client stories in their own authentic language, in a way that demonstrates your ‘ability’ and ‘attitude’ – it will build a solid foundation of trust. You just need the right person to produce these ‘strategic case studies’ for you – an objective outsider who can relate ‘safely’ to your client, win their confidence, and get them talking openly. This is best accomplished by someone who knows both marketing and the technicalities of your industry.

Stories will come out showing on one side client pain points, issues, interests, deeper motivations, and values. And on the other side, revealing company strengths, value-adds, points of difference, and bottom-line benefits with hard figures (such as % production increase, labour hours reduced, $ saved, etc).

Show These Traits in Action, and You’ll Hit Home

Over the years, I’ve interviewed many clients, and had the privilege of hearing stories about the outstanding qualities they value most in a company.

Here is some of the ‘hidden gold’ that case studies can show. You don’t have to demonstrate all of these qualities, but if you can show a few that are important to your prospective clients, you’ll win their trust and business…

On the ‘ability’ side:

  • Quality of the work, down to intricate details
  • Timely delivery, especially in difficult or demanding circumstances
  • Cutting-edge tools and technology
  • Clever, cost-effective, or innovative solutions
  • Outside-the-box thinking and skills to fix complex problems

On the ‘attitude’ side:

  • Genuine interest shown by listening to client needs, issues, and goals, before jumping to action
  • Fit your products or services into the client’s world on their terms, instead of making them fit into yours
  • An ongoing relationship perspective, not a short-term transactional focus, with a willingness to work in collaboration
  • Commitment to ‘go above and beyond’ to deliver what the client needs, even in difficult circumstances
  • Rescue clients from scary vulnerabilities, pains, and problems
  • Share ideas and advice on how to use your products to best advantage, save time and money, or make life easier
  • Take responsibility to acknowledge and fix mistakes (no one’s perfect), with good responsiveness to complaints

Getting it Together

We’ve seen that trust is critical to business success, especially in recession, and strategic case studies are a practical and potent way to gain trust quickly. Once you’ve served a few clients well, you can reap the benefits of trust over and over by ‘broadcasting’ your case studies on your website or social media.

To find out more about the practicalities of doing these, you can read Leverage ‘strategic’ case studies to build trust, demonstrate value, and take your engineering or tech company to the next level

Reap the Benefits of Trust in Your Business

If you’d like someone to organize case studies to give your marketing a stronger foundation to grow your business, find out more.