05 Feb Do your customers trust you?
So, trust. Not easily given, not easily earned. It’s kind of fundamental to getting people to part with their cash, right? If they trust you, they believe in your brand. In your message. They believe in you, they not only invest emotionally, but financially. If they don’t, they’ll find a new ride to hitch their wagon to pretty quickly. You may not be as special and unique as you think. Are you willing to test that theory? I hope so…
As the exceptional businessperson you are, it is your responsibility to check in with yourself and your customer base. Are they getting what they need from you? Have their needs changed? Have yours? Are you fully on top of communicating with your customers in the way that suits them best? For instance, I’ve noticed a trend here on the Fraser Coast for businesses to use Facebook, rather than to have a full, professional website. I’m genuinely wondering why that might be? Is it simply because websites (can) cost money to build and Facebook is free? Or does it go deeper than that, and it’s primarily where people are ‘looking’ these days?
Personally, if I am going to invest my money I’d almost always prefer to do that with someone who has invested in themselves. Recently I went looking for someone in Hervey Bay to detail my car. There were a few options, but only one of the recommendations had a website. I opted for the business who had taken the time and resources to promote themselves fully. It gave a sense of legitimacy and of success – you have to have money to spend it, right? (and money = success in business???) I certainly got a better feel for the business as a consequence. I trusted the source.
Maybe I’m just old fashioned. I will say, though, our regional economy needs to compete at a state, national and even global level these days, and how are we going to do that if no-one can find us? It’s easy to get lost on a platform like Facebook. When you have a unique look, feel and voice, the magic happens. Trust is the ultimate shorthand and leads to repeat business – so much easier than the grapple for new clients, right?
The way I see it, there are four main ways to gain trust and therefore loyalty:
By investing the time and money into developing your brand (even if it’s a little at a time), your customers develop the recognition and attachment you need to be successful. If you don’t have the money to go all-out and hire a marketing company, there are millions of resources online to guide you. I will say though, investing in expert support along the way can do wonders for your business outcomes.
The basic toolkit of any business should include a website, business cards, a social media presence and a solid understanding of what your business is/does (and why). Each of these elements requires regular thought and attention.
This even applies to little things. Copy riddled with typos is an easy target and a personal pet peeve of mine in professional writing. For me as a customer, if you couldn’t be bothered to get your signage (or whatever) right, what else are you neglecting?
Having a brand personality, knowing what you stand for and expressing that in every facet of your business makes it clear you know what you are doing. You are the smart choice, the safe pair of hands. From your choice of colour to your choice of language, your brand is consistent and instantly recognisable.
Once you have discovered your brand identity (ask me how), it’s essential that everyone you interact with recognises it and comes to expect it. The only way to do this is to have a consistent tone of voice, a consistent image, a consistent way of operating. Use the same photographer for shoots, the same processes for answering enquiries, the same greeting when someone enters your shop.
The human brain thrives on predictability. Don’t miss a trick by not knowing who you are professionally.
Last time we touched on being honest and accountable, and I suppose this is along the same vein… It’s a win-win when you connect with your clients based on a genuine desire to help. Part of your brand can, and should, be around having an open and honest dialogue with your followers. It’s also what makes your business unique.
Demonstrating that you are human and have your customers’ best interests at heart is a surefire way to earn trust.
It’s also really important to do what you say you are going to do. I know it seems obvious, but it’s amazing how many people fall short on this one. I don’t think it’s a problem unique to Hervey Bay, but the number of times we have been promised quotes, or services that never materialise is astounding. If you can’t follow through on work, or if you’re simply too busy (yay you!) just say that. People understand honesty way better than being ghosted.
Know Your Stuff (and share it)
One of the most important elements of gaining (and keeping) your customers’ trust is your expertise. Keeping on top of trends, understanding developments in your industry and paying attention to changes in how information is sought is an easy way to show you are an industry leader. Knowing your stuff, and sharing it around is useful, but it is also a demonstration of value and confidence. Customers want to know why they should go with you instead of your competitors. Providing value beyond your basic products and services goes a long way to setting you apart.
Sharing your knowledge shows you are not afraid of a little competition, and that you can back yourself and your ideas. A business that can do this regularly is heading for success.
So there you have it for today. A few ways to encourage trust and brand loyalty. It feels like this was a particularly long post today, so apologies for that. If you have anything you’d like to add to the discussion, please feel free to comment below, or via my social channels. I am always open to new ideas and perspectives!!