We know, that trust is a human emotion that tells us that no risk is acquired by interacting with another human or a group. The Oxford Dictionary’s definition says: “Trust is the belief that somebody/something is good, sincere, honest, et cetera, and will not try to harm or trick you”.
We deal with trust, whether it’s a business or a personal purchase, daily. Sometimes, we have to rely on the advertisement while at other times we have plenty of choices and we choose to trust a brand or a business. Are we truly using our free will or is our trust created through the communication of that business?
We can better describe trust for business or a product with a feeling of safety, security and a sense of not risking anything when purchasing a product or a service. We are eventually after a pleasant and positive experience, where benefits override the losses, and trust is the knowledge that minimises those risks.
We can manage the feeling of security and the absence of risks (or at least minimised risks opposed to benefits we are getting) on various levels. Firstly, we can create and manage the trust for the product we are selling, for the factors such as the main features and eventual user experience or result. Then, there is the trust for expertise when we are offering our skills to help other businesses or individuals to achieve their desired results. And just as well it can be the trust for companies in general, most commonly in B2B relationships and the higher risk purchases.
When speaking about business communication, advertisement and social media content, nothing changes for the statements mentioned above. However, plenty of gurus will tell you to gain trust through your personality. This advice is nowhere near effectiveness when it comes to 99% of the business out there, such as retail, wholesale, manufacturing, tangible and intangible services, and business solutions. Without getting too much into the topic of personal branding, we can settle with one main thought:
Personality will count towards trust in clients when that personality is inevitably connected with the result of a product or service purchased and used.
When the result you desire to get from a particular purchase is gained through one’s personality, the professional part of that personality will matter on the stage of choosing the product. Fortunately for us, business owners, only a small amount of all businesses owns this feature.
IF NOT PERSONAL AS A TOOL, WHAT THEN?
To understand this, we first need to decide on a couple of other factors.
AUDIT YOUR IDEAL CLIENT
The ‘pains’ of your client might be more significant than money. For some, returning a purchase isn’t an option – if you have ever bought anything online and didn’t like it, think of the burden it was to return your purchase (you probably at least had to fill out a form, pack it and bring to a local post office). Others have no choice but to trust your product due to the lack of other options but need their guarantees, it will solve their issues.
The key here is to understand what your ideal customer values, and what kind of promise will give them the trust they need to purchase your product.
UNDERSTAND YOUR PRODUCT’S COMPLEXITY
To understand which tools to use and how to use them, we should hold onto two metrics: the product complexity and the amount of risk the purchase brings.
Compare buying a home to visiting the cinema. When purchasing a home, both the number of risks and the types of risks are significantly higher. At the cinema, you would lose a tiny bit of money and a couple of hours of your time if the movie wasn’t great. In real estate purchase, the risk of losing money as opposed to the benefits is more significant. But other risks, such as functional and social risks play a role. Your child might not go to a better school due to the distance from your new home, the construction could be unsafe, or you will have to put a lot of money into renovation in future.
The product complexity reflects on how many different types of risks are involved in purchasing the product.
Demand is a weighing factor in product complexity, as it determines how much you should work on your customer’s trust. A planned purchase, for example, requires from you more tools to eliminate the risks, as these arise in various forms during their decision-making.
When your customer is considering a purchase, (s)he will probably review all possible options and is eventually choosing between you and a competitor. In an ideal world, the latest they will need to trust you is at the stage of comparison. Giving guarantees or showing your expertise won’t be necessary for your initial offer they see for the first time. However, when the purchase is impulsive, and they have to decide on the spot, you will have to show all you’ve got to gain that trust in your product or business immediately.
Competition is another factor that adds up to your risk scale. The more direct and indirect competition in your market, the more likely your customer will not only consider the risks within your product but will also compare the risks of purchasing with you and another firm and decide in favour of the least risky purchase. Understanding your market, your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, is the key to work with positioning on the level of trust.
WHAT KIND OF RISKS ARE THERE TO PREVENT, AND HOW?
Every purchase contains risks. Most likely, you are thinking of the loss of money now. However, other risks are health and safety, loss of reputation, lifetime value of a product and long-term unwanted relationships. We can segment the risks in three categories:
Value risks: financial and functional risks of a product, service or relationship with a business
Personal risks: physical and psychological risks which affect the client directly
Social risks: the risks your customer takes in the social environment such as loss of reputation or harming their name
When the risk contains losing money, think of how you can reassure your potential customer that the benefits are higher than the losses. Make sure your customer understands the return policy and your terms. Understand what kind of loss it is: for one a $100 will be nothing, whilst to another, it’s a loss they cannot afford. Your average ideal client thus determines how much effort you should be putting into creating trust and the feeling of security.
If it’s health they are risking, you can reassure your client of a clean or even a sterile environment, your working conditions and all the safety measures you are taking to prevent your customer from getting ill or feeling worse after the treatment. As you might not be able to promise the desired outcome, you can at least work on their fears to get worse.
The higher the risks and the more complex your product, the more tools you will have to use to create trust. Depending on your business, you have a couple of useful options. In an example, where chewing gum is opposed to buying a new car, for the first you need to reassure your customer that the benefit of the chewing gum (fresh breath, excellent taste) is higher than the loss of $1.50. For the latter, your customer experiences a considerable amount of risks, both financial and personal (or even social), which you all should work with by using more tools.
16 TOOLS TO CREATE TRUST THROUGH CONTENT
Which instruments to use and how to implement them into one system is a very individual work for each company. Since there is no universal advice for every business out there, we have segmented the communication tools into three categories. These can be used all together, depending on specific features of your products or your business.
Tools to use to get the trust for your product (the lower third of the graph)
These tools will work on your client’s understanding of their purchase as well as their customer success (using the product in the right way to achieve the best results).
Trust for more complex products or services by experts, coaches and trainers:
When we want our clients to trust our businesses, we will use:
And lastly, a great universal tool, especially for social media:
These tools are interchangeable and can be used for all businesses and products regardless of my segmentation.
HOW TO APPLY IN ONLINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA ENVIRONMENT
After reviewing your product and audience, and understanding what risks to minimise and what tools to use in your content, the basic rule is to know where to use it.
Placement of your communication minimising risks should be according to when and where those risks can arise in the mind of your potential customer during the customer journey.
In offer. When writing your sales texts such as posts on social media or your landing pages (you can learn how to write them in my course Business Content), you can implement one or more tools on the stage of a purchase. Understand that not all tools are applicable here: your content shouldn’t interfere with the thinking process of your client ‘what’s in it for me’.
In your business description, if you have the achievements that can validate your business in general. Think of the ‘link in bio’, LinkedIn business pages or your website ‘about’ section.
In product descriptions, showing it for the first time to your potential customer, your tools should support your most important claims on how this is something they might need. Reviews and cases are great on this stage – the potential client won’t only understand what another person benefited, but just as well might understand that (s)he needs it.
In user guides (included with your product). It will make sure your customer is using the product as intended so that safety and functionality won’t become an issue. Many firms forget this, but customer success is recurring in your reviews and user-generated content.
In Instagram Stories. Behind the scenes or sharing a personal experience (professionally speaking). If your workspace is a place where your customer gets their treatment done, you may want to show it’s clean and safe. You could just as well show your awards, certificates and degrees if that is applicable for you and your business, and will support trust in your customer.
In Instagram Highlights. Highlights are similar to a menu on a website, where you have a section ‘About’ – your stage to shine. In this section, you could place as many reasons to believe and trust supporting tools as possible.
These tools should be used in combination with other marketing and sales instruments, and within a system built specifically for your company or your business. To learn more about marketing and sales, follow my account on Instagram and don’t hesitate to Direct Message with your questions or comments.
© M. Avaguimova-Van der Boog | School of Social Commerce