"I am the greatest small business marketing coach that ever lived." Do you believe me? Probably not - unless of course you are already one of my clients and I have proved it to you. I'm exaggerating here just to make a point. Why don't you believe me? It's too easy to make a statement like that. Anybody could say something like that. I can't tell you how many places in Boston are "Boston's best" at whatever they do.
People don't trust advertising. We have centuries of experience with snake-oil sales and exaggerated claims. Your marketing must include unique benefits for your customers. There must be some benefit for your customer to do business with you. Besides that, you must give your customers a reason to believe that you are going to deliver that benefit.
If you can prove to customers that you have provided your benefit for others, and you can do it for them now - you've gone a long way toward building trust.
Here are some methods for building trust into your marketing:
- Testimonials - Customer testimonials are great. When someone who has done business with you sings your praises - it adds credibility. Most successful infomercials are about 80% testimonial. Celebrity testimonials, if the celebrity is someone who's trusted, are even better.
- Specific Numbers - "We can save you $1347 on your bill." "17,410 customers have already signed up." What gives these two statements impact is that they use specific numbers. Compare that to, "save $1000 on your taxes." Round numbers can sound made up. As long as you can back it up - use specific numbers. If you can use a specific number in a testimonial it's even better - "This tax service saved me $1347 on last year's bill."
- Describe Your System - If you tell me that you can increase the gas mileage in my car by 15%, my question for you is, "how do you do that?" Again, watch infomercials. No matter what they sell, they describe how their product is going to deliver the benefit.
- Unique Selling Proposition (USP) - Describe what is unique about your offering from the perspective of your customer. Your customers need a reason to pick you over your competition.
- Demonstration - On TV or radio dramatic demonstrations of your benefit can get attention and build trust. Remember the superglue commercial where the iron-worker's hat was stuck to a girder with the iron-worker dangling underneath? In print a photo of the iron-worker dangling is great as well.
- Remove Customer Risk - Let customers try your product before they buy. Give them a money-back guarantee. Remove their risk of doing business with you. You have to assume that every customer has the thought in the back of their heads, "what if I give them my money and the product or service doesn't work." You'll see the words "risk free" used in a lot of direct response advertising for a reason.
Of course, you need to build trust in every customer interaction. If a customer feels like you have violated their trust they will never do business with you again.
This is part of the reason I rail against companies that outsource their customer service to India. I have never had a good customer service experience calling India, and several Indian reps have lied outright to me. Some companies have begun to shift their customer service back the the US because they realized that crappy service was costing them business ... duh.
Anyway - become believable, stay believable, and you will be build loyal customers that will buy from you again and again.