Building trust in your new business
Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? Especially for those of us who have been through it, or are going through it right now.
Let’s say your business has been around for a short period of time. Maybe less than a year. Hopefully, it has delivered according to expectations most of the time.
It follows that there should be some degree of trust in your business brand if you are still in business.But, is it that rigid? Is it only about social proof?
- What do you do if you are a new business and need to build brand trust sooner rather than later so you can stay in business?
- What strategies can you use until you get the sales and the positive reviews? For instance, can we get away with presenting facts and hope to build brand trust if the business is new?
I will explain an approach that you may find useful and offer 10 practical tips to move forward. Let’s start off with some background information.
The three brand trust questions you may be asking about your business’ brand
Many businesses face three questions around building brand trust:
- Do you always have to earn brand trust in advance? Or, are there other approaches to getting trust that is not based on past experience?
- Is brand trust only based on that which is obvious? For instance, are clients basing brand trust on the criteria that we would expect them to use, such as service levels?
- Are there complementary approaches to building brand trust we should consider? Are we missing an opportunity to build trust by only chasing after what we’re used to working on?
This article discusses scenarios where these questions are relevant. It also provides practical examples of how to answer these questions.
Some background about the relationship between a brand and brand trust
Brand trust is essential if you wish to make it easier to get and keep clients.
That’s because brand trust suggests that various financial, performance, and social risks associated with buying that brand have been relatively well managed.
Brand trust also helps you charge a price premium. When facing tight margins, this becomes critical to long-term business success.
But, brand trust is not easy to get if you are a new business.
So, how do you address these challenges?
Here are 10 ideas to handle the brand trust issue for newer businesses
Given that there is a limited track record, there are several options to pursue.
- Get past the brand trust issue by limiting perceived competition.
- Yes. I know I said that I would offer tips on building brand trust. But, the strategist in me feels compelled to offer this as the first piece of advice.
- If no trust, or limited trust, due to a limited time in business, puts you at a disadvantage relative to your competitors, change the game. Do something that positions you in a way that limits your perceived competitors.
- For instance, offer something that nobody else has and pair this with some of the options below. Remember the adage that you should not compete where there is competition. The internet has made it easier for a niche business to become viable, especially if you are a service business.
- If you cannot achieve this, then use the following nine tips below…
- Offer whatever limited social proof you can get.
- Work with the reviews and recommendations you have until you can get more.
- If you are delivering as promised, keep improving the process of doing this. This improves perceived quality and leads to a consistent habit of improvement. This leads to more, happier clients who are willing to put in a good word for you without being asked.
- Automate where possible to collect more social proof. We find that this process is often neglected until social proof is required. Remember to make this process credible so that the reviews are perceived as being true.
- There is significant advice on how to do this better. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
- Amplify positive word-of-mouth through paid posts if possible.
- Somebody credible may have had a great experience with your brand. But, if nobody sees the post on your social media page, it’s lost to your audience and is a lost opportunity.
- Some brands pay to amplify selected posts if it’s worth having a great brand rub off on your brand.
- There are several instances where one positive review from the right person catapulted a brand from obscurity to recognition and trust.
- Use positive brand associations.
- Do you have channel partners or affiliates with more credibility? Leverage them to get momentum. Many marketers swear by this approach. I have seen many instances of this being done successfully if you are noncompeting by virtue of your industry, category, or place in the value chain.
- At times, being in a trusted ecosystem or on a trusted platform, such as an online marketplace where sellers are vetted, can help to provide association credibility.
- In addition to the trust effect, the scaling effect can help you magnify the effects mentioned in points 2 and 3 above.
- Offer a money-back guarantee if possible.
- This is obvious as it lessens the perceived risk if things go wrong. But, there is a less obvious trust-building effect that also takes place. If clients can see that you are willing to make this offer, it implies that you are sufficiently competent to make this financially viable. Hence, it is more likely that you are trustworthy.
- Also, skip the fine print if you can. You’ll be familiar with the “No questions asked” approach which is so appealing. It suggests that you have faith in your own competence.
- Make sure you are contactable.
- How often have you not bought something because there is no phone number, no address, or no business name beyond a brand or domain name? I’ve often rejected potential suppliers that seemed competent, but have gone to painstaking lengths to not be traceable or accountable if something goes wrong.
- Makes you wonder if the brand’s owner is credible, doesn’t it? We’ve all seen the ads belonging to those businesses that do not seem to want accountability.
- Show that you can be found and are accountable. Contact details and some sort of a business number related to the region you are operating from helps a lot.
- Be transparent about your policies.
- What is regarded as “Fair?” You and your prospective client may have very different views depending on the country’s laws and culture you come from. Be very clear. Not only does it inspire faith by reducing perceived risks, but it also indicates you have thought about the issue. And you are willing to put your neck on the line because you have faith that the negative event in question is unlikely to take place.
- If something goes wrong, what will it take to make things right? We’ve all been here before. If a prospective client believes that it would be more pleasant to have their teeth extracted, than getting what was promised, you have a problem.
- Showing that a problem is easy to rectify is essential. And it lowers shields because you are perceived as having integrity.
- Be transparent about your processes.
- How do you operate?
- Do you have people or technologies that are better or faster?
- How is quality built into your processes?
- I’ve had great results when using processes as a topic for demonstrating why a brand should be trusted. It’s useful for lowering perceived financial, performance, and social risk. (There’s a link to an online DIY tool below to make this process easier for you.)
- Be transparent about your standards.
- How fast do you deliver?
- What are your service levels like?
- Who is available if things go wrong?
- Is there an independent 3rd party to keep you honest?
- I’ve used this strategy successfully over the last 20 years for new brands and existing brands that have faced trust challenges due to their past or the industry that they operate in. I have also noticed that this approach has attracted clients who may have never even considered our brand. Especially when none of our competitors were willing to do the same.
- Be visible.
- All things being equal, familiarity builds some trust.
- Communicate whenever possible as long as you are being relevant.
- Try to be of service by providing useful information. If done well, this positive attribute will rub off on your reputation.
Read more about the DIY, online tool to further develop the ideas mentioned in points 7, 8, and 9 above to build brand trust.
About the author
Alan Ohannessian started WisdomInc in 1999.
He has broad-based experience in how marketing strategy and analytics are practically integrated with other strategy disciplines for more effective outcomes.
Prior to starting WisdomInc, he started a Customer Relationship Management consultancy within the Ogilvy Group in the mid-1990s and worked within the Ogilvy Group over a 5-year period.
He has advised product and service organizations for more than 70 global and local B2C and B2B brands since 1995.
As a specialist across several disciplines, he is able to provide an integrated view of a solution when providing strategic insights. Areas of specialty have included Marketing Strategy, Brand Strategy, Communications Strategy, Brand Experience Management, and Pricing Strategy.
He has taught Marketing Strategy to MBA students at Wits Business School, on a part-time basis, through the “Marketing in a Connected World” course.
He holds a Master’s degree in Distribution Channel Strategy from the University of the Witwatersrand.
He has also completed a postgraduate dissertation in the area of cost-competitive mass-customization manufacturing strategies at Wits (where he taught Marketing Strategy, Consumer Behaviour, Marketing Research, and Retail Marketing over a 2-year period from 1993 to 1994.)