Founder of FE International
When your prospects and customers trust you, they are more likely to buy from you. When you have their trust, you can also command a higher price and boost the lifetime value of each customer.
But building trust doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You have to remain consistent in your messaging, understand your buyer personas and deliver on your promises over time. Only then will you become the go-to provider in your niche.
There is a tremendous upside to building trust in your brand, but it takes time and specific strategies. Here are those strategies:
1. Be accessible.
Be available to your customers and allow them to interact with you. Customers often have questions, and if there’s nowhere for them to go to get their queries answered, or you don’t respond in a timely manner, you could begin to lose credibility.
James Schramko of SuperFastBusiness has several strategies in place to maintain regular interaction with his prospects and customers. His customer support staff answer questions that come in. His paid membership includes a forum where like-minded entrepreneurs regularly interact; and he also has a yearly event called SuperFastBusiness Live, where business owners can learn how to grow their online ventures.
These are some practical ways you too can use to make yourself available to your customers. Consider how Schramko has provided a point of contact for all inquiries, started an online community and organized an event to bring awareness to his brand. You might try these actions, too.
Also consider setting up a proper customer-support infrastructure, using help-desk software like Desk.com, and attending conferences and events. In these ways, you can answer questions in person, which is a great way to increase your likability and accessibility and provide support to your customers.
2. Have a reliable product.
People tend to buy on emotion, not logic. The challenge your business faces is that when its product arrives on the customer’s doorstep, those customers be impressed with the quality of the product to justify their purchase. Talking a good game and turning around and selling a low-quality product is sure to draw negative reviews, leading to mistrust and decreased credibility in the market.
One simple way to ensure your product's quality is to put it through a rigorous testing process. You can also put together focus groups and ask your target audience what their needs are and what kind of product would solve their challenges.
Eric Ries popularized the idea of the minimum viable product (MVP) and lean startup methodology. The idea is to speed up the product-development process and get it into the hands of the customer sooner than later. Too many companies spend hundreds and even thousands of hours on research and development, but when they finally launch their product, customers may not even want it.
The MVP approach allows you to go to market sooner, test out the viability of your offering and learn from what your customers liked and didn’t like about it. In this way, you can test your product, improve upon it and then launch it more broadly.
3. Be honest.
Being transparent means recognizing and being open about both your strengths and weaknesses. If your product isn’t right for one of your leads, you should be secure enough to guide that lead in the right direction, even if that act means boosting your competitor’s bottom line.
This is one of the ways the Smart Passive Income blog’s Pat Flynn differentiated himself from his competition. When he was first getting started, he didn’t see many entrepreneurs talking openly and honestly about their journey, especially in the money-making niche. So he decided to be that entrepreneur:
Today, Flynn's income reports continue to drive traffic to his website month after month and inspire would-be entrepreneurs to take the same transparent approach to online business.
Honesty shows you care about your customers and their needs, and your willingness to help them gets them the results they’re looking to achieve.
4. Bring value to your client.
Do you put your customers first, or do you put revenue first? People know when they’re just a dollar sign to you, and while they may still buy from you if they believe your product solves their challenge, this does not build long-term trust or encourage repeat sales.
I Will Teach You To Be Rich CEO Ramit Sethi relates in a podcast that he doesn’t make some of his products available to customers who are in debt. Is he missing out on revenue opportunities by doing this? Absolutely. But is he also building trust in the process? Unquestionably. He believes it’s important to take a stand on this issue, and it makes sense that he doesn’t want customers who can’t give his resources the attention they deserve.
Delight is in the details. Take the example of Online music story CD Baby. Its legendary CD shipping confirmation email is both humorous and value-adding. It also proves that bringing value to your client need not be complicated.
5. Maintain consistency.
Maintaining consistency ensures that your prospects and customers know what to expect. You can set both internal and external goals to maintain the quality of service.
As Bo Bothe, Will Cunningham, Elizabeth Tindall and Leslie Rainwater of BrandExtract write in a blog post: “A consistent brand helps increase the overall value of your company by reinforcing your position in the marketplace, attracting better-quality customers with higher retention rates and raising the perceived value of your products or services.”
They go on to explain how consistency can help your employees understand what their role is within your organization. The building blocks of a consistent brand include:
Your message. Your brand message should be an extension of your actions and behavior. If it isn’t true to who you are, or you can’t deliver on it, you are being inconsistent. Your brand’s overall tone also factors in to your message -- in other words, how you position yourself in the market. Do you want to be perceived as dependable, aggressive, helpful or some other characteristic? Stay focused on the image you’re developing.
Your design. Creating consistent imagery across your logo, website, social networks and print materials is an easy win that can help you build trust with customers.
Your delivery. How will you communicate with your target audience, through what channels and how often? Knowing your prospects makes it easy to answer these questions and deliver the expected brand experience.
Trust is a byproduct of a commitment to quality and excellence. If you can deliver the right results to the right people over the long haul, they will come to believe and trust in your product and service offerings.
Once you’ve carved out your identity in the marketplace, be vigilant about your communication. Back up who you say you are with tangible actions.