Brand trust used to be simple. You heard a product was good, you used it and it worked, then you kept buying it forever.
But now we’re all victims of digital marketing. We’ve been over-targeted with behaviour data, misled by previously-trusted organisations and exploited by social media platforms.
On the other side of that, as businesses, we’ve potentially done those things to others. So, it’s no wonder there’s a distinct air of distrust around the tactics businesses have used over the last decade.
The return to old school brand trust
1. Let what you’re selling do the talking
Focus first on making your products and services good. Prioritising fast profits can motivate a team to sacrifice quality, consistency and longevity. Set the goal of long term growth over profit at all cost.
There is no point in throwing time and money at a product that isn’t good enough. You’ll sell, but you won’t get repeat custom, you won’t generate positive reviews and you won’t last. It’s also far easier to market something that’s actually great!
2. Obsess over the consistency of quality and message
We can build trust by keeping our word. By fulfilling the promises we make in our marketing.
But consistency in visual quality – spelling, design – also gives the subconscious impression that we’re dependable. That we’re worth trusting. Think about how most of us spot spam emails: it’s the hilarious spelling and grammar that no real business should make. Being obsessive over this stuff IS WORTH IT.
Not being afraid to tell the truth is a powerful move. We all make mistakes, businesses in particular. Acknowledging these mistakes helps us improve.
This is why allowing, promoting and addressing reviews is so important. Even if you’re not paying for a particular reviews platform, people will still find ways to review you online – usually because they’re angry.
You must keep track of these reviews, wherever they happen and deal with them in the open. I’ve said it a million times but every public complaint is an opportunity for you to show off how well your business deals with problems.
Replying to reviews gives you the chance to set the record straight, show that you’re respectful and accountable, and win an unhappy customer round. That’s almost better than not getting a complaint in the first place!
4. Real purpose
Not performative purpose. Don’t grasp at any cheap opportunity to look woke or allied.
If you as a business feel strongly about a particular cause, it makes sense to your audience that you would want to use your privilege to help. We all should.
This isn’t for marketing campaigns. It’s the kind of thing a researching potential customer might stumble across on your social media or blog, or in a local paper’s article about you. It helps build the background of your business and makes you look trustworthy – because you ARE, not because you’ve set yourself up to appear that way.
If you don’t feel strongly about a cause and it just seems like a good thing to tweet about, it’s not going to be convincing.
5. White hat tactics
It’s time to wipe the slate clean. We’re coming to the end of winter and it’s the beginning of a new year; let’s spring clean our marketing.
Things like cheating with our cookie policies and ASSUMING consent if people continue to use our website – that needs to go. Hiding terms and conditions, not being clear about what customers are signing up to with their marketing permissions, following them onto platforms they hadn’t expected…
A lot of us are guilty of marketing at any cost to our brand trust. We’ve been carried away by the availability of data and channels. But what do consumers want and trust?