Building Trust, the Essential Ingredient for Success
by Dave Cottrell
Building trust is as essential to the success of your brand as air is to all who breathe it. In fact, without trust, you have no brand, at all, and business success will continue to be no more than a furtive dream you cannot achieve.
Trust is the one ingredient you HAVE to have in order to create a salable brand. Your brand is what defines your business at a glance.
The ancient Semitic king, Solomon, wrote, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” Proverbs 22:1 How wise those words still are!
Think about it. What comes to mind when you hear or read the word, “amazon?” You think of books, correct? What about when you hear, “ebay?” You immediately think of online auctions. What about “paypal?” Your first thought is probably about online transactions. But these are not the only places where you can buy books or take advantage of online auctions, or buy and sell without having to use a credit card. Why do these ones stand out?
In all of these cases, the brand is a TRUSTED brand. These businesses were very careful and spent considerable time and money on building trust. That’s why thousands and thousands of people flock to these sites every day, to buy everything from doll clothes to collectible books to spark plugs for their cars, and all the time, confidently using Paypal to make their transactions.
Building trust for your brand is the absolutely essential ingredient you need to have for your business to succeed.
Forget everything you have ever been told by all the popular gurus for the moment and digest that last statement. In fact, let me rephrase it: You WILL NOT see success in ANY business unless YOU prove YOU can be trusted. There very first part of building a successful, trusted brand is to brand yourself as a person who can be trusted. Dump all the flashy banners off your front page, stop sending out cut and paste ad copy written by someone else, and for goodness’ sake, QUIT SPAMMING YOUR CONTACTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA!
Is this scaring you? I hope not. Building trust is not something to get overwhelmed or stressed out by, unless you thought you were going to get rich quickly. If that’s your goal, good luck. Perhaps you should simply go and buy a lottery ticket. Building trust takes time. You have absolutely no chance at all of getting rich before building trust into your brand.
People both online and offline have a lot of businesses to choose from. Online choices for most businesses number in the thousands. People have to have a good reason to deal with you. That reason is definitely not need. They don’t need to go to your store to get what they need. There are almost unlimited other choices in this rapidly growing world of cyber commerce. The real reason people choose to deal with a particular business is their comfort level with that business. The number one reason that the majority of people feel comfortable with a business is because they trust the brand.
A really great example of this is one of the companies previously mentioned in this article, Paypal. They are far from the only company online that makes it possible for friends and family and businesses of every size to exchange funds quickly, but they are by far the most trusted. Many others have arisen over the years, yet only Paypal has even close to the reach and respectability that they enjoy, today. (The latest stats are more than $315 Million PER DAY in online transactions)
The reason for this is that Paypal has put a massive effort into building trust. While not everyone likes them – many small business people complain all the time about their high fees – even most of the complainers use them, because they have put so much effort into building trust. They CAN be trusted with your money! While time and again we have seen and heard stories of other payment processors being under investigation, or even worse, frozen and the funds of all their clients locked, Paypal has never been shut down and locked down by federal investigators.
There are thousands and perhaps even millions of horror stories from folks who have had a bad experience they blame on Paypal, yet multiple millions of transactions continue to be made on the processor. This is because, in spite of the negative publicity they get, they are still, by far, the most trusted (and trustworthy) of all the “pay-as-you-go” payment processors online.
Paypal is actually a very good study of how to go about building trust in the online world. One rule you must follow, right fromthe beginning, when you’re serious about building trust: You cannot please everyone. If Paypal had broken that rule, they likely not exist, today. They are an excellent study in building trust, because there’s just so much information available!
A lot of people hate Paypal; that’s not what this is about, and you can search it out quite easily. The fact is, that if you do search it out, you will discover that it is precisely because they have been so dedicated to building trust that there are so many haters! At the slightest hint of fraud or illegal activity, they freeze the accounts of those involved. Obviously, those people are going to hate them, and just as obviously, not every case proves to involve anything illegal, but by taking what is considered a heavy-handed approach by those who find their accounts frozen, they are working hard to protect their own reputation from the taint of fraud, which very thing has killed MANY other payment processors!
What they have demonstrated is the way to focus in and tune out the “noise” when building trust. Don’t try to please everybody. BE honest, BE trustworthy, BE known for taking the high road, rather than the popular road. By doing this, Paypal has weathered many storms, while many other companies have been shut down, most often for aiding and abetting criminal activity online. In spite of what many see as heavy handed practices, people still trust the brand and use it every day.
Think about it. If you are given the choice of how to pay online, and Paypal is one of them, who will you choose? Will you do a bank transfer? Will you whip out your credit or debit card, when you see Paypal offered? The chances are very good that you would choose Paypal, first. That’s because they ARE the most convenient, hands down, but along with that, AT LEAST as trustworthy as they others. That’s how important it is to be building trust when you’re building your brand. An upstart, like Paypal, was able to rise to the same level as the most solid choices in the financial world, and THEN beat them by adding convenience.
Building trust was the first ingredient in their brand’s success, and needs to be first in your brand, too. Building trust is essential for your business to succeed.
On a personal level, let me ask you: Where did you last go to get your car repaired? Did you expect to get it fixed properly?
That’s trust. Why did you trust that mechanic to fix your car? In one way or another, you had a reason to trust your mechanic. Either you knew him as a friend, or someone recommended him, or she was someone you knew from a club, or you had a previous favourable experience at the same shop… The plain hard fact is, YOU would not take your car to have someone you did not trust do expensive work on it. Period.
At some point along the way, that shop paid the price and did the hard work, building trust with those who gave them the chance. Then they continued to work hard to keep that level of trust and improve on it. That’s exactly what every business person needs to do.
Every successful business has the same common denominator: It is successful because it sells a lot of product and/or service, because people trust them, because they put a lot of time and effort into building trust into their brand!
Online business works exactly the same way, with one major difference: You are playing on a much bigger playing field with way more competition. Unless you have a massive advertising budget, you have no chance at all of success unless you primarily build relationships based on trust and sell your products and services around those relationships.
Finally, never forget: Trust is sacred. Never do anything to compromise that trust, or you will lose much more than just one customer. Do your research. Don’t sell something you’re not one hundred percent comfortable with, yourself. If you ever discover that you are marketing a scam or a bad product or service, stop! Let your customers know and apologize. Offer a refund if you can. Most people are very easy to work with and will forgive you, will respect you even more, and will do business with you again.
Never pretend that you don’t know when you find out something is a bad deal, in the hopes that people will forgive you and continue to trust you. Be proactive. Contact them first and work it out. Building trust is an activity that requires lots of effort and continued improvement. But building trust is the essential ingredient to your success. What will you do about it, today?