Gaining the trust of your target audience is essential to building a brand, because unless your audience members feel they can trust you, they will not patronise your brand or recommend it to others.
So what is the best way to go about acquiring that all-important trust? I have compiled a list of my top tips for building trust, to build a brand.
Build Trust, to Build a Brand
It's becoming harder than ever to be trusted as a brand. Corporations and organisations of all sizes are in the news…and not for the right reasons. And unfortunately, even the good guys get bundled in with the bad.
In the past, brands were trusted until consumers were given a reason to feel otherwise. Sort of like 'innocent until proven guilty.' Now, we all tend to get lumped into the dung pile, and then have to prove that we don't belong there.
Please don't see the situation as terribly grim, though: There is a bright spot.
For those brands willing to put the work into building trust and a good reputation, there's lots of attention to be had. Why? Because few brands are up for the challenge. They're still operating on the assumption that trust is a 'given.'
Here's what I suggest you do to build trust, and therefore, build a brand:
- Demonstrate your Corporate Values Every Day. As a brand, you need to declare your corporate values and then exhibit them in all communications and interactions, so that you can attract and keep those customers who not only appreciate, but share, those values. Failing do so will make your brand look like a fraud…and that's pretty much the opposite of building trust. In all that you do, stay true to your brand's values.
- Make Yourself Legitimately Available. Posting on your social media pages regularly, sending automatic email responses, providing automated phone messages…does not qualify as making yourself (and your brand representatives) available to your customers. You've got to get out there and talk to your ideal customers. Your customer services representatives must take the time to connect with both satisfied and unsatisfied customers. Engagement is huge—and it must occur on your customers' terms…rather than when it's convenient for you. Does this mean you can never take a vacation or personal time away from your business? Absolutely not! What it does mean is that, in general terms, your customers should dictate how and when communications happen. How does this build trust? People trust people. If they don't know you, or don't believe that you want to know them, they will not even consider trusting you or your brand.
- Keep your Promises. This might sound like a simple one, but it really is huge as you strive to build a brand. I would suggest that you not only keep your promises, but that you exceed those promises. This will instil trust in your ideal customers; they will expect you to always pleasantly surprise them.
- Be Yourself. This sounds like a typical pep talk, I know. However, it's even more than that. When you show your followers the real you, they will come to know you as a 'real person.' And people—not corporations—are what people put their trust in.
- Share your Processes with your Audience. Transparency is a big buzz word right now. That's because people want to know what's going on behind the scenes. Why? Because they want as much information as possible, so they can determine if your brand is worthy of their trust. The process matters just as much as the product. They want to know that you're operating in-line with the values you have promised would be demonstrated—with integrity, even when 'no one' is watching.
- Admit your Mistakes and Commit to Change. When you make a mistake (which you will), own up to it and tell your audience how you plan to avoid making that same mistake again. This shows them that you're honest (you're admitting what you've done wrong). It also shows them that you're ready to dedicate yourself to public change-making. That's trustworthy.
- Work to Build a Big, Bold, High-Profile, Visible Network. When consumers are wondering which brands to trust, they look to people and brands they already trust for reliable information. Now, imagine if the influencers your ideal customers look to were part of your network. Can you imagine a better recommendation? Remember that you should build a professional network filled with people whom you think are 'out of your league.' Upgrade your professional network, and your brand's trust factor will be upgraded.
- Take Every Opportunity to Over-Deliver. No one has to deliver ahead of a deadline. No one has to deliver more than promised. However, those who choose to over-deliver will gain the trust of their audiences. Why? Because when you go over-and-above what is required in the majority of your dealings, it is assumed that you have a habit of doing so. It is also assumed that you care about your processes, about your product…about your customers' experiences with your brand. That type of behaviour fosters brand trust.
- Focus on the Future. When you trust your path and your decision-making abilities, what do you do? You look toward the future and make plans for it. And what do others who see this happening come to believe? They have faith in you because you have faith in you. In other words, they trust you.
Without trust, your brand will plateau. It simply cannot grow. Consumers value their time and their money, and will only give both to those to brands that prove their trustworthiness.
You can move forward under the assumption that as long as you don't prove yourself untrustworthy, that trust will naturally build. I would not recommend this route. Before that trust is forged, your competitors (the ones willing to take the extra steps) will have pulled ahead.
Do you want to learn more about building trust in your brand? As well as credibility, visibility and profitability? Then I would suggest attending the very last ever Brand Building Bootcamp, scheduled for 20th October in London and 27th October in Calgary. Grab a seat now, and be a part of history, before they're all gone!