So you may get people to KNOW you, and they may even LIKE you after a certain amount of time, but getting them to TRUST YOU… is usually a arduous task. It takes time, communication, and usually some interpersonal interaction.
Trust can be primarily earned in two distinct ways. First, by working with a person in a one-on-one or group level. This group or person has to have some predefined task that is expected of you. You have to meet or exceed expectations. The second way is through referrals, testimonials, and some other first hand experience with you, and your products, or services.
1) Exceeding Expectations
Working with clients and giving them over and above customer service is a sure fire way create a referral machine. When you exceed expectations, and help them realize the true value proposition of what you have to offer, they are certain to share your contact information when somebody asks “Do you know anybody who can…”.
As a marketing company, our value proposition is this, “Marketing should always be an investment, and never an expense. If you spend $100, you should make $300… $100 to cover the marketing costs, $100 for your time and investment, and $100 profit. If we don’t see an opportunity for three times return on investment, then we should not do the project.”. Now, I can’t always guarantee a 3 to 1 return on investment, but it sets us apart from the competition. It's hard to help those that don’t want to be active and participate in the process. Again, that’s not what we offer. I tell customers that” We are in the business of making you more money!”.
There have been some projects that could not live up to that offer, but many more times we’ve made clients 3 to 1, 5 to 1, 10 to 1, and even 25 to 1 or more in profits. You can bet that those customers are my best sales force.
2) Testimonials & Reviews
That leads me to second way to obtain trust. This is through recommendations and reviews. Nothing is more powerful in a Google or LinkedIn search than positive, glowing reviews of your business and your work. Reputation management can be an arduous task, but it’s part of the new reality in this ‘Google – Search For It’ world.
Recently, LinkedIn had started something call Endorse Me to create more interaction with users. This is not the same as a recommendation. A recommendation is a heartfelt testimonial of your business. If you need some more recommendations, it’s not offensive to ask for them from connections that you have actually done business with on LinkedIn. Just be prepared to reciprocate with a positive review for them as well.
Positive reviews on Google, Yelp, Merchant Circle, Yahoo Local and others, can be one of the most convincing tools for people to trust you enough to pick up the phone to call you, or visit your website and fill out a request form, or send you an email. Think about being on the other end of that transaction. Do you read reviews before purchasing a product or service? Most of us do.
I have been asked more than once about how to deal with a negative review. There are no phone numbers to call and dispute with Google, and few websites have system in place to let you deal with them. The only way to meet a bad review head on is get tons more of positive ones that push it further and further down the list of reviews. One bad review with three good ones can create an aura of concern for potential customers. One bad one with a hundred good ones, will certainly drown the lone bad one out!
Ask for reviews and recommendations. Manage them, nurture them, and most certainly, be aware of them. They are your biggest asset in building trust with those who are just getting to know about you, your products and/or services!
So what have you done to build trust with clients or potential customers? Share some of your ideas or experiences in the comments section!