Trust is a pivotal feature of successful brands; when a user trusts your brand, they’ll be more willing to buy from you. For many major established brands, like McDonald’s or Ford, brand trust is tied to history, and most people have had interactions with these brands’ products by the time they’re making purchasing decisions of their own. But for most brands, first-time exposure is a critical moment for building initial brand trust — you need site visitors and social media followers to trust you immediately, to some degree, if you want to earn more revenue.
The problem is, most people won’t trust your brand — at least, not before engaging with you. But if they don’t engage with you, they won’t have a chance to build that trust, so it’s kind of a catch-22. How can you overcome this?
The key is to realize the main problems why brand trust issues exist in the first place, then work strategically to overcome them, one by one:
1. Corporate brands are faceless. First, corporate brands are faceless — that is to say, they aren’t people. Naturally, people are more willing to trust other people than they are massive bureaucratic organizations, for more than one reason. For starters, people are more accessible; when you talk to a person multiple times, you’re always talking to the same person, but when you talk to a corporation, you might speak to a different representative each time. You can restore some brand trust here by leveraging the power of personal branding as a complement to your corporate efforts. Even highlighting your team, showing the faces and personalities of the people who work for you, can help build trust in this area.
2. Advertising is seen as manipulative. Today’s general public is averse to advertising. The main reason is because advertising is produced for one reason only: to get people to buy products. This is seen as manipulative, and most people distrust advertising immediately because of it. It doesn’t help that advertising has popped up everywhere, emerging in every aspect of our lives until it seems like all we see is a collective white noise of ads. To get around this, you could cut down on advertising and pursue a content marketing strategy to attract buyers to you through positive brand experiences and providing value.
3. Brands have an agenda. People know that brands exist to better the company in some way. Corporations are seen as greedy, self-preserving entities, so by default, anything they offer and anything they say must be serving an agenda with one end goal in mind: improving profits. Generally, this is true; brands are self-preserving, and they’re always working toward the goal of maximizing profits. But if you want to earn more trust, the best way to do it isn’t to cover that up; it’s to be more straightforward. In your copy and your advertising, be as straightforward as you can about what you’re selling and how it might benefit your customer; being indirect or manipulative will only work against you.
4. Brands offer little in the way of validation. Consumers are far more likely to trust a brand or organization when someone else has already done so; for example, if a consumer personally knows someone who has purchased this product in the past (and has liked it), he/she will be more likely to make the same purchase. This concept is known as social proof, and there are a number of ways you can offer this. For example, you can include customer reviews and testimonials on your landing pages, or showcase images and videos of your products in action with real people.
5. Money is on the line. You also have to remember that people may be extra skeptical of your brand simply because there’s money on the line. People aren’t willing to part with their money, at least under usual circumstances, unless there’s a demonstrably favorable reason to do so. Accordingly, you need to go out of your way to prove that your offer is worth what you’re asking in exchange. This may include listing the benefits, estimating ROI, or even offering a money-back guarantee.
There are many ways to address all of these trust-impacting factors, so you have a ton of flexibility here. Dig into your specific target audience’s psychology — are there certain angles or approaches that would work for them better than others? For example, since social proof is such a powerful concept, can you enhance its power by offering social proof from people within that demographic? In any case, the more you invest in building consumer trust — both for first-time and ongoing customers — the more you’ll stand to reap in new revenue and ongoing patronage.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!