Aug 26, 2010

Brand Basics: Establish a Relationship of Trust

Trust is an integral part of social influence. If you want your customers to buy, then they better trust you.

We live with trust every day. It’s a core element of how we make decisions. It’s that little feeling that helps guide our decisions. If something doesn’t feel right our defenses go up. We ask more questions. We look for referrals. We get more analytical and skeptical.

Trust is the lube that makes decisions happen smoothly. When we feel good about a person or a product, when we trust it, it’s a lot easier to make a decision. Our cognitive and emotional states are aligned, and support our decision making process. For that very reason, a key goal for every company is to form trusting relationship with their market (customers, partners, vendors, employees, everyone).

3 components of trust

Intuitively we get trust. We know what it feels like. We can articulate when we trust or distrust someone. We can even describe anecdotal reasons why we trust or don’t. But explaining the constructs of how trust is actually established is a little trickier, because trust is formed at a subconscious level.

There are 3 key components to establishing a trusted brand:

1. Consistency:

As humans, we are tuned to spot discrepancies. That’s what kept us alive as cavemen. We learned to tune out our surroundings, and focus on changes in our environments. If a tree rustled in an unnatural way we took notice, because there could be a saber tooth tiger behind getting ready to eat us.

We appreciate and want consistent, predictable behaviors. We feel comfortable with people and products when they do as we expect. This allows us to adjust our own behaviors to fit the situation. On the other hand, trust is jeopardized by unexpected behaviors. These inconsistencies trigger fear and skepticism, and cause us to second guess the situation.

2. Confidence:

Confidence builds on consistency, but at a deeper level. Confidence is the belief you will deliver on your promise. You’ll do what you say you will do.

Confidence is established by understanding and experiencing your capabilities. It is formed by the questions you ask, the people and companies you associate with, prior actions and your demonstrated knowledge. Essentially you are being judged on your expertise.

3. Goodwill:

Do you believe a person has your best interests at heart? Do they care? That’s goodwill. It’s a measure of friendliness and concern. You likely have a high degree of goodwill with your friends and family, because you know they have your back. This same level of trust and concern comes out in brands too. It’s that feeling that a company stands behind their products, and is working for their customers. This isn’t something that can be faked. You are either working for your customers or you’re not.

Make deposits in the Trust Bank

Trust takes time. You have to earn it by demonstrating your firm’s capabilities and values at every opportunity. That’s the purpose of your brand. It’s the articulation of what it means to work with your firm, how you help customers and what you stand for.

Every interaction you have with your market helps to establish trust. Consider these interactions as deposits. Every time you interact with your customers you are demonstrating consistency, building confidence and establishing goodwill. Each deposit builds on the next, and soon you will have a trusted relationship with your customers.

Creating a large deposit of trust is essential, because it’s the currency that drives purchase decisions.

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