Trust is at an all time low. Here are a few things you can start doing to fix it right now.
Trust is one of the most important factors in any interaction. Whether we’re buying something online, asking our doctor for medical advice, or talking to a stranger on the street, trust is marketing critical.
If anything, events over the last 5 – 6 years have magnified the need for trust. In fact, trust in almost anything is at an all time low:
Just 20% of Americans “trust the government in Washington to do the right thing just about always or most of the time”
55% of Americans have “trust in the judgment of the American people, a new low”
71% have little faith brands will deliver on their promises.
But what does trust mean in today’s digital world? In short, it’s the ability to connect with people based on mutual respect and understanding. And while building trust is never easy, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to build relationships without it.
The good news? You don’t have to go out and find it; you already have it inside your organization. All you have to do is start leveraging it.
Why Build Trust?
The old model of marketing—where brands called on the experts—is dead. And while some marketers are still clinging to the idea that they can sell anything to anyone, the data says otherwise.
Consider that a Hubspot research found that just three percent of consumers say they consider marketers and salespeople trustworthy. That’s pretty bad—and that was in 2016!
As a result, we’re seeing a gap in trust where buyers don’t feel like they can trust businesses to do what they say they’ll do, and we need to help our clients build that trust more than we’ve ever seen.
This isn’t about being cynical; it’s about being realistic. Buyers aren’t stupid. They feel (know?) that companies lie to them every day. So why should they believe that a small startup, or even a large one, won’t try to take advantage of them?
As marketers, we have to earn trust. We have to prove we’re worthy of it.
And that starts with building relationships.
What Does Trust Mean?
In the context of marketing, trust means two things:
1) The belief that someone else has my best interests at heart. It might be trust in the data in an add that shows up in my feed, it might be trust in a landing page or video testimonial. It might be trust in a website. Ultimately, it’s about whether they can trust your brand to do what it says it can.
2) The belief that I’m capable of making decisions that are in line with those interests. This is a bit more to unpack, but there’s a large amount of self-trust that goes into choosing a right path, tool, or vendor. A lot is on the line for your customer.
When making a B2B purchase, buyers have a lot of questions about their own ability to implement a solution. Some of those questions include:
- Do I have the bandwidth to make this a success?
- How much time will I need to commit to this being a success?
- How much training will I need?
- Will this work with my current technology infrastructure?
- Can I afford this?
- Who will support me?
- What happens if this fails?
We all know B2B buying (and buying life science solutions), is nowhere near as simple as choosing a new pair of Converse All Stars. And given the last few years, trust is more a factor than ever.
Why Do You Need to Build Trust?
In the old days, companies called on expert sales people to sell their wares. They touted the benefits of their product and controlled the entire narrative.
Today, though, things are different—buyers still need help—but they’re starving for something to believe in. They don’t want to be sold to; they’re looking for information—to be educated. And they want to make up their minds without being manipulated.
So What Do You Do? How Do You Build Trust?
Well, let’s talk about what doesn’t work.
Here are four common mistakes that lead to mistrust:
1) Being Too Pushy
You may think you’re helping customers by pushing them toward a decision, but they’re not going to buy from you unless they want to. If you’re trying to get them to sign up for a trial, you’re probably doing it wrong. Instead, focus on educating them so they understand how your product works, and then give them options.
2) Not Listening
You’re not paying attention to what people are saying. When you hear “I really wish your product did this,” you might ask yourself, “Why?” What did you miss?
You might not be listening to chatter online about the market. It’s tough if there are some minimum requirements you need to address with the market and they’re talking about those requirements online, and you just aren’t part of the conversation.
3) Making Promises Without Delivering
If you promise something, deliver it. Don’t tell your customers that you’re working on it, and then don’t follow through. That’s a sure way to lose trust.
4) Failing to Communicate
If you’re not communicating well, you’ll never gain trust. You’ve got to show that you care, that you’re willing to listen, and that you’re trustworthy.
5) Only Criticizing, but not having a concrete answer to the problem
Your job isn’t to criticize. Your job is to solve problems. Too often we see sales people who can tell you a lot that’s wrong about a situation, but have no specifics (or clam up) on what the solution might be. This isn’t helpful and it certainly isn’t establishing credibility or trust.
15 Ways You Can Build Trust Today
Trust is hard to come by. But once earned, it’s priceless. Trust isn’t won in a minute, you have to build and earn it over time. Here are some ways to do just that:
1. Unbiased Content
People don’t want to hear about how great you are; they want to know what you’re doing for them. Provide value by sharing helpful information, tips, advice and resources. This builds relationships.
And this can’t just be any old content. It needs to be unbiased content. If your company has an agenda or bias (like “our XYZ product is awesome” or “we’re going to change the world with ABC”) then you should probably avoid those keywords. Your readers will see right through that and you’ll lose credibility.
2. Build Relationships, Not Shallow Connections
You can’t buy your way into people’s trust. You need to develop authentic relationships with your customers based on mutual respect and shared values.
3. Be Consistent
Consistency is key to developing trust. If you say one thing and then act differently, your credibility will be shattered.
4. Remind People You’re Valuable
Your customers shouldn’t feel like you’re trying to sell them something every time they interact with you. Make sure your interactions leave people feeling good about being connected to you.
It’s easy to think we already know everything there is to know when it comes to marketing. We all get caught up in our own worlds of ideas and concepts. The truth is, you’ll never learn anything if you aren’t open to new experiences.
6. Social Proof: Testimonials & Recommendations
Social proof is powerful because it proves that others believe in you enough to share their positive experience. When you see other people recommending or endorsing a product or service, it gives you confidence that it must be good.
7. Give Back
When you give back to your community, not only does it show your customers that you care, but it also shows them that you’re trustworthy.
8. Be Transparent
Be open and honest about who you are, what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. Showing transparency builds trust because it demonstrates that you’re not hiding anything.
9. Do Good Work
People will trust you when you do good work. They’ll see that you’re committed to quality, and that you’re putting effort into your products and services.
10. Have Integrity
People won’t trust you if you lie to them. So don’t lie. Tell them the truth, even if it hurts.
11. Social Media the Right Way
Social media is where people go to learn things. They’ll see you there too, providing useful information and engaging in conversations. When others engage with you, they’ll start trusting you.
12. Be Sincere and Authentic
If you try to fake it, you’ll fail. Don’t pretend to be someone or something else online. Be yourself. That authenticity will help you connect with people.
13. Don’t Overspin or Overpromised
Don’t promise more than you can deliver. And don’t overstate your results. If you do, you’ll lose credibility.
14. Be Honest With Yourself
The best marketers are always self-aware. They understand what works and what doesn’t. They’re able to adapt quickly and make changes as needed.
15. Establish and Live Your Mission Statement
A mission statement is a clear description of what you’re here to accomplish. It helps you focus on what matters most. This can help you establish a connection and build trust with your prospects and customers. A mission can give them something to relate to.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that building trust takes time. But once you start, you can’t stop. Trust is the foundation of any relationship—particularly in business.
The most effective brands know that trust isn’t something that happens overnight. Trust takes time to earn, and it requires constant effort. But it’s worth it. Research suggests that once a consumer trusts a brand, she’ll likely use it again.
Here’s one more thing to keep in mind: building trust isn’t just good for business. It’s good for society too. When we trust each other, we become better people.