October 14, 2009 Leave a comment
Any brand, no matter how memorable, will fail to achieve its goals if it does not gain the public’s trust. Given the skeptical nature of the public today, this is exceedingly difficult to come by. Nonetheless, by following a few simple rules, trust can be built, brick by brick, into a solid brand that produces strong customer loyalty.
Diagnosing the problem
image via little miss no name
Let’s think about this for a moment: what brands do you really trust? Which brands, when they make a claim about their product or service, do you believe them – no questions asked? I’m willing to bet there aren’t that many. Why? It’s easy to be skeptical, and now, more than any time in the recent past, it’s popular to be skeptical of marketing messages. People want to believe that they’re savvy consumers who can’t be fooled by expensive ad buys. For most people the default position is to believe that companies will say just about anything to get buyers.
If you’re anything like the rest of us, you tend to put your faith in brands that feel authentic and are relevant to your life. That is to say that you believe in brands that are speaking with you, not at you. Finally, the strongest brands get their fans to spread the word for them. This transfer of trust through brand advocacy is more valuable than any other marketing message you can buy.
Walking the walk
All the fancy advertising and letter-pressed business cards in the world won’t do any good if your brand can’t perform the way it says it will. Especially in today’s hyper-connected world, any bad customer interaction will spread like wildfire. Don’t, for example, tell me that you value my time and then make me wait on hold for 10 minutes to speak to a customer service rep. A brand is a promise, and not following through on that promise will destroy trust quicker than anything else.
image via Indexed
Authentic and relevant
Your brand won’t be considered authentic unless it come across as real to your audience. So what does it mean to be real? There are a lot of definitions, but for marketing purposes, the key factors are knowing who you are and being relevant to your audience. That means you have to figure out your brand’s unique value proposition and stay focused on it. You can’t be all things to all people, and you can’t always go chasing after the latest fad.
Being relevant is about reaching deep down and speaking to that part of your audience’s hearts where their excitement is concentrated—the core, if you will, that represents something very significant to them. How does your product or service address those feelings, desires, and ideas?
Forget about what you want to communicate to the audience; focus instead on what they need to hear.
Transfer of trust
I cannot emphasize enough the value of brand advocates. While people are inherently distrustful of marketing messages, they place an inordinate amount of trust in what their friends and associates tell them — whether good or bad. Accordingly, a brand that inspires people to encourage others to use it is going to have much more success than one that tries to compete on features and benefits. And personal endorsements are much more powerful than paid sponsorships. Think about it, which are you going to trust more: a NASCAR driver pimping fast food burgers, or your friend who, unsolicited, tells you enthusiastically about this great new restaurant they went to the other night? Of course you’re going to trust your friends more.
Brick by brick
image via Esparta
Building trust with consumers is never easy. You can’t just put up a Facebook fan page or send out some coupons and hope that people are going to fall in love with your brand. You have to do the hard work of getting to know your customers and always stay focused on helping them to achieve their goals. But helping people in this way is a sure-fire secret to putting your brand on a path to success. People are most loyal to the brands that matter to their lives.