Pick up any good marketing book, and it will emphasize the importance of trust. Without trust, a sale doesn't happen.
What is trust, and why is it so important when you're selling your products, services and programs?
Trust is an element of a relationship, in which one person depends on you: to do as you say, deliver what you promised, and be the person you appear to be.
Why do people need to trust you first, before they pull out their wallet to buy from you?
I'm no Freud, but my theory is, we need trust, because of three reasons.
First, the practical reason. Of course, I need to trust you first before I give you my money. I'm not stupid. And neither are your prospects.
Even if you're only asking for, say, $20. That's still $20 I could spend on something else. I don't want to give you my trust and then end up with a product or service that wasn't worth every penny I paid.
Aside from money, I'm also entrusting to you my time. If I buy a book — even if it's only $7 — I'm going to spend precious time to read it. Often it will be too late when I figure out that your book is nothing but fluff.
So, even when we're offering something for free, we still need to earn our prospects' trust. Because at the very least, they're entrusting to us their time, energy and a little bit of their privacy as well.
The second reason is emotional. When we trust somebody and that person breaks that trust, we feel stupid and like a failure. We trusted somebody who was clearly not trustworthy, and now, we feel like an idiot.
Finally, trust is important in marketing, because trust is an essential part of human relationships. And when we sell something to somebody, we enter into a relationship.
I imagine this is the reason why so many people on iTunes are outraged when a 99-cent app doesn't work, or doesn't work as well as they expected. Just look at the reviews. You'll be amazed how angry people can get over a 99-cent app. I'll bet, if they lost one dollar from their pocket, they wouldn't even miss it.
The outrage isn't because of the money. It's because of the damaged relationship. The vendor has betrayed them, and now they want blood.
So the big question for us marketers is, how do we earn our prospects' trust. And once we've earned it, how do we keep that trust?
Here are six ways I can think of:
The most obvious way to be trustworthy is, of course, to always tell the truth. If you're offering a discount until this Friday only, then it better be available until this Friday only and not until Sunday. If you're only accepting 50 participants into your program, we better not see 75 people showing up.
This includes not making promises you can't keep, or outrageous claims you can't back up. For example, don't promise your customers will double their income if they follow your system–unless you're 100% sure they will. Don't say your product is perfect for every body. No product is. Tell people if you think your product isn't for them. That saves everybody time.
Don't try to be your successful competitor, or that A-lister you look up to. They're only humans, too, after all. Be yourself. We're not in grade school any more, striving to earn the favor of the popular kids.
Part of being yourself is being transparent. Admit your mistakes, if you make them. This is why audio and video speed up the trust-developing process faster than plain text. When you hear a person's voice, you get a little bit about their personality. When you hear AND see them in video, then you get to know them all the more. You also see their clothing, mannerisms, and environment — all of which add up to a total package you either trust, or don't.
Being consistent means you do what you say, and say what you do. You stay the same you every day. This is not to say you should never grow and change. Every body changes. But not to the point of going from one extreme to the other in an instant.
Being consistent also means staying true to your principles. For example, last year, I interviewed a successful marketer who wanted to recommend a website where other marketers can hire freelancers for very little money. I said that, since I advocate for the rights of freelancers, I couldn't possibly recommend that site, because it undermines the efforts of freelancers who want to be paid professional fees for professional services. My interviewee understood, and agreed not to mention that website during our webinar together.
To be trustworthy, you have to genuinely care for your prospects and customers. This means always having their best interests foremost in your mind. When you honestly care about your market, and want to serve them with your knowledge and skills, this inevitably shows in your marketing.
This requires us to always listen, listen, listen to our target market. It's very tempting to go ahead and develop the products, services, and program we want and are interested in. I totally get that. I get excited about my own ideas all the time!
However, if we truly want to serve our market, then we would direct our efforts to helping them solve the problems and challenges that are most important to them. This means keeping your finger on the pulse of your audience, being open to feedback (both good and bad), and occasionally going out of your way to actually ASK.
Finally, you can earn your prospects' trust when you're willing to stand by your products and services. For example, always guarantee your customers' satisfaction. I know of at least one marketer who has stopped giving money-back guarantees, because he grew tired of people getting refunds, not because they're unhappy with his product, but because they need the money.
This has happened to me once as well, and it is annoying. However, I still believe the benefits of providing a guarantee outweigh the risks. Besides, if you promise to return your customers' money “no questions asked,” then that's what you have to deliver. No matter how annoying that may be.
Another benefit of having a guarantee is that it forces us to create the best product or program or service we can possibly produce. If you're going to have a guarantee, then you better create something that delivers to the best of your ability.
Another way you stand by your product or service is by owning up to any errors or mistakes you make. We're only human, after all, and perfection is simply not possible. I like how Michael Port always says humorously says, “I don't charge for typos. They're just my gift to you.”
Show your prospects that you can do what you promise to do. This can be in the form of testimonials from previous customers, case studies that document the positive results of your program, and actual demonstrations of what your product or service can do.
This reminds me of when I was still in UNICEF. Our performance was evaluated yearly, and our supervisors would give us a rating for a number of performance indicators. The highest score was a “6,” but the big bosses warned supervisors against handing out 6's willy nilly. They said something like, “If you're going to give a 6, your staff member better be Mother Teresa, and you better have videos to prove it!”
So prove your claims, back them up, and your prospects will give you their trust.
I'm not comfortable with having a list of six items — I've been trained to always have an odd number in a list (if one of my former bosses is reading this, you know who you are). So help me out here and add a seventh item.
What else can you do to earn your prospects' and clients' trust? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
PS: Would you like to build an entire online presence that makes it easy for your prospects and customers to trust you? Then check out my Magnetic New Marketing eClass. You'll learn how to be likeable, attractive, and trustworthy to your audience. Click here to learn more.
Lexi Rodrigo is a communication and marketing professional for multimillion-dollar businesses, co-author of Blog Post Ideas: 21 Proven Ways to Create Compelling Content and Kiss Writer's Block Goodbye, and host of "Marketing Insights LIVE!." Connect with Lexi on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
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