If you build it, they will come. Oh, how we wish that were the case when it came to gaining new business. Unfortunately, as most know, it takes so much more than simply sticking a logo on your front door or website to gain traction and start developing brand trust. People need a reason to select and invest. This is their money we’re talking about, after all. According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, only 48% of the U.S. population trusts business as an institution.
If you find you’re having trouble motivating genuine trust in your brand, there’s good news. Consumers and businesses are looking — actively looking. Brand trust is one of the biggest factors in consumers’ purchasing decisions. According to PwC’s Consumer Insights Survey (2018), 14 percent of respondents put trust as their No. 1 reason for choosing a retailer. “Trust in brand” was the second most frequently cited reason for purchase decision-making. Businesses and marketers know the importance that brand trust plays in securing long-term clients, but many fail to address or implement key strategies that stick.
So how do we begin to build a brand that is not only recognizable and trustworthy, but drives growth? In this post, we outline a few helpful and proven strategies that will set your business moving in the right direction.
Developing brand trust is much like building a literal friendship. You invest early on with that friend with the highest regard for their feelings and what’s important to them. When it comes to truly connecting with your audience, it matters knowing what they want and need.
One of the best and simplest ways to do this is by meeting them where they are. Where do customers spend their time? What works well for their schedule? Set aside dedicated moments to have face-to-face conversations without selling. Your job is not to convince them of anything in these moments. It all comes down to listening and asking thoughtful questions that get to the heart of their pain points. People want to be listened to, and if you’re willing to give them your ear, they might just keep coming back.
Social media is another way for businesses to build personal relationships with individual consumers, and by doing so, contribute to meaningful marketing. This doesn’t mean you spend all your time trolling online for possible customers. It does mean you keep your eyes and ears open for ways in which you interact on a more personal level. When consumers feel valued and listened to, it’s likely they’ll want to talk about it. A fantastic example is of the below consumer impressed by Morton’s personal response.
To successfully relate, you need to interact with customers and online consumers on a regular basis. This means you designate coffee and meal times to sit down with people. It means you keep your phone line open to people who may have questions. It means you have a solid, active presence on social media. You need to monitor your pages for comments, questions or complaints and respond personally and appropriately. Be willing to start conversations and respond.
Consumers have a lot to say. With them being the ones making purchasing decisions, it’s important that businesses not turn away from digital interactions. User-generated content is a great opportunity to show how real people are enjoying your products and services and build serious brand trust. Today, many are using social media or online groups to discuss brands they like. In one survey, 76 percent of millennial consumers said that content shared by average people is more trustworthy than what brands share.
If you’re seeking this kind of attention from consumers, start by highlighting the customers who are already talking about you. Share their shoutout or feature them in an upcoming client success story. If you’re having trouble gaining early traction, ask your longer-term clients to share their honest opinion online. Another great way to get people talking is by asking direct questions in groups or forums. For instance, if you own a fireplace design and installation company, ask online readers what they look for in a good fireplace. Is it ease of use? Look and feel? Cost? Get the conversation moving and share that feedback with other consumers.
The quickest way to destroy trust and reputation in your market is to jump in and out of branding and voice. From your logo and colors to your tone and personality, you must be consistent in everything you do and say. This goes for all print and digital media, as well as the people representing the business. Consistency is not just nice, but necessary for building brand awareness, as people will come to recognize you across multiple touchpoints.
Being consistent first starts with always delivering messages aligned with the core brand values in the same tone, presenting your logo in a similar way, and repeating the same colors throughout your visuals. It’s not just about the visual elements of a brand, though. CustomerThink identifies three key areas where businesses must be consistent for developing brand trust:
In a world of celebrity endorsements and paid influencers, consumers crave authenticity more than ever. Social Media Today found that 90% of Millennials say brand authenticity is important, proving that younger consumers prefer “realness” over “perfectly packaged” Consumers today are not interested in a sales pitch. They want to know what your brand is all about. Achieving authenticity comes down to your company’s DNA: values, goals, and culture.
The list of elements important to company authenticity can grow to be quite large but some of the most important elements businesses should actively live out to reflect their values, goals, and culture includes:
Start by owning negative feedback and addressing complaints. When you make a mistake, own it. Let customers know you’re aware of the issue, that you are sorry, and what you are doing to make it right. Denying or ignoring only shows customers that you care more about image than care.
You can also be authentic by telling real stories. The adoption of storytelling is an exciting new opportunity for businesses both big and small. Our brains are wired to respond to well-crafted narratives. Science proves storytelling to be one of the best ways to capture people’s attention, ingrain information into their memories, and forge personal bonds.
Nike tells its brand story through real-life stories like that of Rory McIlroy as a child looking up to his hero Tiger Woods. Only at the end does the viewer see the trademark swoosh and the slogan “Just Do It.” It avoids being overly salesy and focuses more on the drive of the athlete.
Consumers as well as current customers know you have the full right and capability to talk only about your services and products. While it’s important for them to know everything there is to know about what you offer, what keeps them coming back for more is knowing that you provide ongoing value.
Many businesses fail in this arena because they only talk about themselves. Provide ongoing value to current customers and interested consumers by sharing content they can use now. Give them tips and tricks for best practices. Provide useful technology hints they may not have previously known about. Equip them with templates for developing their own content. Sharing valuable resources and content shows them you care about their success.
By providing reliable and insightful content, rather than a sales pitch, you’ll nurture a sense of trust in your brand. IKEA is a great example of a company generating value. This Swedish brand added to its trusted reputation with its “Make Small Spaces Big” campaign, providing tips and ideas to make use of small spaces… information that is both valuable and relevant to its audience.
In developing brand trust, small businesses are constantly competing for consumers’ attention and struggling to create enough compelling communication to cut through the noise and connect with their audiences. By focusing on direct connections through relationship building, leveraging user-generated content, acting with consistency, and proving authenticity, consumers will begin to place meaningful trust in your business. Trust that will ultimately pay off in the long-run.