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Four Ways To Build Trust Through Social Proof

One of your biggest assets isn’t your equipment, or your logo—or anything tangible for that matter. It’s trust—the trust your customers have in you. Any lack of trust impacts the bottom line. David Horsager of Trust Edge™ Leadership Institute says, “A lack of trust is your biggest expense.”

Trust manifests itself in many ways. It’s more important than ever and vital to the survival of any business. With social media and online reviews being read by millions of consumers, evaluating the trust that companies elicit is practically an American pastime.

As we are in a digital era of business, many of our daily decisions are made online. We look at emailed proposals and shop on retail sites for much of what we need. We research products and companies to determine if they have what we want, and more importantly, find out what others think of the products they sell and the customer experience they deliver.

I had a chance to connect with Travis Chambers of Chamber Media, a video ad agency that’s driven more than 400 million views across YouTube and Facebook, resulting in $300 million in revenue. He is entrenched in the digital world and delivers results by creating trust among his clients’ customers. He’s done this by creating social proof, something that any company—B2B or B2C—should do, regardless of what they sell or whether they conduct business digitally or in a more traditional way.

Before we go further, it’s important to realize that social proof is more than an online review or a YouTube testimonial, although those are very important and perhaps the main source of social proof for many businesses, especially retail. Even B2B businesses in small industries have reputations. There are publications and even industry forums where customers share opinions about various companies’ products and the service and experience they provide. Social proof is one of the most powerful reputation multipliers. A company that is known for quality and experience didn’t earn that reputation overnight. Chambers says, “Credibility is not a one-off action.”  

Chambers shared four ways to build trust through social proof that are worth considering for any type of business. These savvy strategies are listed below followed by my comments.

1.     Collect testimonials and reviews. People trust people. I don’t know one person who hasn’t read a review for an item they were considering buying on Amazon or another retail website. A recent study indicates that the average consumer reads 10 online reviews before making a purchasing decision. In the retail and consumer world, reviews can be found online. In the B2B space, there may be product reviews or even testimonial letters in industry magazines. Chambers suggests including testimonials “everywhere,” including websites, marketing materials and more. Don’t forget the power of video. Hearing and seeing a customer talk about a product on video is a turbo-charged testimonial.

2.     Get quoted in an article. Even a one-line quote in a large article can be powerful when used the right way. A quote in a publication like Forbes or even a smaller industry publication can go a long way in creating credibility. Collect everything positive written about your company and products and feature this information in the appropriate places.

3.     Business credentials reinforce your brand’s expertise. Perhaps there is an industry designation to demonstrate a level of knowledge and proficiency that could build credibility and trust. Industry awards and major accomplishments are powerful. The J.D. Power award comes to mind. Even displaying the number of years you’ve been in business can help add to the trustworthiness of your organization.

4.     Exploit the wisdom of your colleagues, friends and family. This is also called “word of mouth” marketing and it’s perhaps the most credible type of marketing you can have. It consists of referrals from people you know and trust. Studies have proven that recommendations from people you know are exponentially more powerful than traditional advertising and marketing.

There is an old saying that claims people like doing business with people they know, like and trust. The knowing and liking is easy. You can create an image with the right advertising and marketing. The trust part is hard. That takes time. It takes a series of experiences before the customer knows what to expect. The experiences—with your organization’s people as well as its process—must be positive, predictable and consistent. Deliver that, and your customers will know what to expect. They will not only trust their experience with you, but also your whole company. And that’s powerful.

Source: Forbes Business

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