The Like Element

April 4, 2018

LikeWe’ve talked several times about the concept that no one buys anything until they know, like and trust the company who is doing the selling. If you aren’t on their radar screen, they can’t possibly know you exist. So marketing’s first job is to identify the right audience and put us in front of them on a consistent basis until we get noticed.

Of course, getting noticed isn’t enough. Once you have their attention, you need to do something remarkable, given how many people are trying to earn their attention. You have to be relevant. And not just once — but on a regular basis. You have to matter to them long before they understand that you can help them solve a problem or achieve a goal.

This week, I want to focus on that middle phase – the like element. Our likeability is completely within our control and yet, I don’t think most businesses or marketing/sales people consciously think about how they can earn that reaction from someone. We also probably don’t give enough thought to how we taint or damage that reaction without meaning to do so.

How do we increase our likeability?

Walk a mile in their shoes: The more you can demonstrate that you understand their struggles, worries, hopes, fears, and desires – the more you can connect with them. This, by the way, does not mean asking them the irritating questions that feel canned and insincere like, “what keeps you up at night?” It’s about truly understanding it because, as best as you can, you’ve put yourself in their place.

Actually be selfless: There’s nothing more annoying than someone pretending to care or help when really what they’re trying to do is figure out a way to get to your wallet. You need to help and serve because it’s the right thing to do, not because it will benefit you financially. Many of the people you help will never spend a dime with you. But some of them will. Enough of them will to make it worth your efforts and along the way; you’ll earn the reputation of being an organization that genuinely cares about the people it encounters.

Let it get personal: You know that sales technique where they teach you to notice pictures or mementos in someone’s office and then try to connect based on those? “Hey, you like golf too?” I am definitely not talking about that. I’m talking about letting people get to know you by sharing the other elements of your life. That might be connecting with business colleagues on Facebook or weaving some personal elements into your blog posts. But being personal is all about being human.

You’re always on stage: That said, be mindful of how you present yourself because who you are does matter. There are some topics that are polarizing by nature. I’m not saying you shouldn’t post about it on your social accounts, support them with your dollars or have a strong opinion. But recognize the cost of that choice.

Don’t shy away from your mistakes: Whether you have a business that is reviewed online or just had an unhappy client express themselves in public – it’s an opportunity to show that you take good care of your customers and are willing to admit when you’ve made a mistake. Owning and fixing that mistake in public is actually one of the best ways to boost your likeability. Perfection isn’t believable. They know you’re human and are going to mess up. They just want to know you’re going to do something about it when you do.

While this all seems like common sense, you and I both know plenty of examples of businesses that definitely do not live by these principles. Why not earn your prospect’s business for the long haul by being genuinely likable?


Your enewsletter is missing the point

January 24, 2018

enewsletterDespite all of the talk about digital tools like programmatic media buying and social media, the old newsletter, or nowadays, the enewsletter is still a staple of many organization’s marketing efforts. Rightly so, when done right, they’re incredibly effective and a great way to stay in front of a prospect until they’re ready to buy.

Unfortunately, the ones that are done right are few and far between. Let’s dissect how to create an enewsletter that your prospects will welcome in their inbox.

Intent: This is the first place companies screw up. They think the enewsletter is there to sell stuff. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The purpose of your enewsletter is to be so helpful/useful that the recipients will allow you to keep showing up in their inbox, sometimes for years, before they’re ready to buy.

Your content should be constructed to be of value each and every time you send it. Think about your audience. What do they care about that you can help them improve, protect, or grow? It should be bigger than you and what you sell. Depending on your sales cycle, you may be sending that enewsletter for years before they’re ready to buy. So you have to be helpful for all that time. No small or easy task. But if you stay focused and resist the urge to sell, by the time they’re ready to buy, they’ll know, like and trust you enough to give you an opportunity.

Layout: Be mindful of how your content will be accessed. Today, over 68% of emails are opened on a mobile device of some kind. You need to be using software that is mobile friendly. You need to keep the masthead, color scheme, and style very clean and simple.

Avoid complicated backgrounds, reversing your text out in white or funky fonts that may not translate on all devices. Be sure you test your layout on several different mobile phones, tablets and desktops as well as different browsers and email tools.

Tone: For some reason when people write marketing content, they stiffen up, and their words become more formal and forced. You want your enewsletter to help the prospects get to know and like you. It’s tough to get to know someone who isn’t being themselves. Instead of writing your enewsletter word for word, try outlining it and then record yourself talking about the content. Transcribe what you said and voila – odds are it will be in your voice.

If you’re not sure if your enewsletter’s tone is aligned with who you are, read it out loud. Does it sound like how you’d say it in an actual conversation? If not, either sharpen your pencil or try my transcription trick.

Length: Remember – 68% of your audience is probably reading your missive on their smartphone. Those devices are not made for lengthy reading. There is no universal rule in terms of word count, but keep the reader’s tolerance in mind.

If any section is more than a couple paragraphs long, be mindful to use eye breaks like bullet points, subheads, and plenty of white space.

Email marketing is still one of the most effective and reliable marketing tactics available. For businesses with a longer sales cycle, it’s a critical component in staying top of mind until the prospect has an immediate need. But they’re in control and can kick you out of their inbox any time they want.

An enewsletter that is packed with useful information and is designed to be easy to digest is one that will never get the boot. Make sure it sounds and feels like you so that when they’re ready to buy, you’re exactly who they expect.



But can I trust you?

May 24, 2017

trustI can’t guess how many times I’ve written about trust over the past ten years.  I’ve talked about the importance of the know • like • trust model, I’ve discussed the connection between trust and a brand’s equity and I’ve explored the role of trust in shortening the sales cycle.

Suffice it to say, trust is a cornerstone of marketing success.

But it occurred to me that when I’ve written about trust, it’s been one-sided.  I’ve focused on the trust we need from our prospects and customers in order to make them feel safe enough to make that first purchase or repeat buy.

I’ve been ignoring the whole other side of the equation. Trust has to be a two-way street or else it doesn’t work.  When you don’t feel trusted – it’s very difficult to trust. Just like in our personal relationships, it’s difficult to let down your guard enough to develop trust when you’re feeling like a criminal, based on how you’re being treated.

Think that’s a little extreme?  Think about some of the signage you see in retail locations.  “You break it, you buy it” or “video surveillance cameras in use.”

Without meaning to, in a million little ways, many businesses communicate that they don’t really trust their customers.

And if you think we have work to do in that arena – it’s nothing compared to how many organizations treat their employees. It’s pretty tough for them to trust you, trust your brand and create a trusting environment for your customers.

If you want to cultivate trust among your prospects and customers – you have to start by demonstrating trust in your own team and those same prospects and customers.

Let’s look at a couple ideas for each.  First, the customers:

Your customer service promise: Call it a pledge, a promise or a policy. Whatever you call it – make sure it’s written in simple English, errs on the assumption that 99% of your customers are honest and good people, and cuts your customers a great deal of slack.

Make it very public – post it on your website, in your store and in your contractual agreements. Celebrate the fact that you believe in your customers and in servicing them with respect and affection.

Arm your employees with both authority and resources: Every time a customer complains or has a bad experience and you make them wait for a manager to resolve it, it feels like you don’t trust them or their story.   You also teach them that you don’t have enough confidence in your team to give them the ability to resolve the issue. But when your employees can immediately respond and fix the problem, the customer feels heard and that your organization believed them and their concern.

And now, for showing your employees that you trust them:

Treat them like grown-ups: Flip through your employee manual.  Are the rules for adults or does it assume that your team will act like teenagers trying to sneak out after curfew?  Too many employee rules are made for the few, not the majority. Create rules that make it clear to your employees that you hold them both capable and accountable.

Ask for help: Nothing says “I believe in you and your abilities” more than asking someone for their help. Involve your employees in key decisions involving customer-facing policies, pricing or R&D options.  You can’t just give this tactic lip service.  You actually need to listen.  The upside of that – you’re going to learn more than you think.

Remember that the know • like • trust model is a two-way street.  What are you doing to pave the way to trust for your customers and employees?



What does your welcome mat say?

April 19, 2017

WelcomeWhat does your welcome mat say?  Several summers ago, I spent some time in Europe with my daughter celebrating her college graduation and even though I was on vacation, I couldn’t help but see things through a marketing lens.

One of the places we visited was Madrid, Spain and neither of us spoke very much Spanish. I was eavesdropping as we did our tourist thing and I would say about 50% of the people in Madrid are from the United States or Canada and spoke English. It was interesting to me to see how different businesses react to the challenge/opportunity of a non-Spanish speaking guest.

Just a note – we try very hard to show our respect for the countries we visit and always learn many of the more common phrases. We address everyone in Spanish in terms of greetings, directions, saying please and thank you, etc. We certainly don’t expect them to Americanize their country, but we are hardly fluent and are very self conscious of that fact.

My point isn’t about communicating in Europe but instead, how some of the business owners have recognized an opportunity to attract more foreign guests by making it clear that they’ll be welcomed and accommodated. And even more to the point – It got me thinking about how we can adopt that same attitude, even if we don’t face a language barrier with some of our potential customers.

Some establishments make it clear by displaying English versions of their menus, by having a large sign that says, ”we speak English” or by hoisting a British flag near their entrance. This was true in the more tourist crowded parts of the city as well as some of the very local pubs, where we were the only non-locals in the joint.

All of this got me wondering – how do we put out welcome mats (or not) for our potential customers?

Identify your outliers: First think about who, beyond your usual customer, might need your services/products. Is there a group of people who are “lingering” outside your door and just need to be invited in? Might they actually be even more grateful for your product or service, if they felt welcome? Imagine what that kind of word of mouth among their peers might be worth to you.

Move the barriers: Could it be there’s a communication barrier of some kind in the way? It may not be a language issue but are you using jargon that tells the novices they’re not welcome? And remember, sometimes it’s what you don’t say that gets in the way. What might make a potential customer pause and re-think “walking through your door?”

Add more welcome mats: Let’s assume you either have a literal front door to your business or your website is your virtual one. How welcoming are they? Do they reassure that fringe audience that you not only can help them but you really want to? Do you have a way for them to see themselves as your customer? That could be anything from a FAQ section that answers their specific questions, testimonials that come from folks just like them or a marketing tool that explains how you onboard new clients so they can visualize becoming one of your best customers.

You know that you want them as a customer. But they may not be as tuned in as you think. If they’re nervous about doing business with you or spending big money or switching from an old vendor – they may need a little positive reinforcement. Or it may be that they feel like an outsider or that they wouldn’t belong.

It’s your job to make sure they know just how much you’d like to help them and make it easy for them to walk in the door.





Transparency leads to trust

March 29, 2017

TransparencyI really don’t like surprises. Granted, I’m anti-surprise to the extreme. I used to drive my mom crazy by ferreting out where she hid the Christmas gifts and then “guessing” what I was opening on Christmas morning. I suspect most people aren’t quite that determined to avoid surprises, but the reality is, especially when it comes to business – we don’t like them.  Your customers want transparency, not surprises.

There’s an excellent book out there by Patrick Lencioni called Getting Naked, A Business Fable About Shedding The Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty. The core message of the book is that the more transparent we can be with our customers the more they learn to trust us over time.

Businesses are often plagued with customers who have doubts, uncertainties and unexpressed concerns. Those emotions breed mistrust and worry, which leads to a lot of questioning, push back and micro managing from your clients.

I’d like to suggest that there’s a different way, as does the book Getting Naked. I think many businesses operate under the misguided notion that clients shouldn’t see you sweat, know if there’s a potential problem or will throw a fit if you explain your pricing to them.

I think that’s a recipe for disaster. Here are some areas (I call it the three Ps of Transparency) where transparency can lead to trust, better customer relationships and increased sales.

Pricing: This is probably one of the biggest areas that needs more transparency. I believe many businesses are uncomfortable talking about their pricing because they’re either not sure how to justify the cost, know they’re not the cheapest game in town or hate the negotiations that come after the initial price is outlined.

We can’t let our money insecurities trickle down to our clients. If you are uncomfortable with your price point, maybe you need to think about how to add more value to what you deliver so you actually believe the client is getting a bargain. If you can’t hold your head up high when you talk about your pricing, then the problem is in what you deliver, not with your customer.

Process: If you’d like your customers to stop calling and asking for updates, proactively give them not only an outline of the entire delivery process but frequent updates. When they know exactly where everything is at, they will stop asking.

The other factor related to process is that for some reason business people believe that they can’t admit they don’t know something. So they fake it. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t that good at faking it and the client gets this vague sense of unease, which leads to more micromanaging on their part.

Saying “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable response as long as it’s followed with an explanation of how you’re going to get the information. We have to get over the idea that our clients expect us to be perfect and all knowing.

Problems: This is the biggie. No matter how buttoned up you are, sometimes there are issues that cause delays, errors and other undesirable results. This is the worry that keeps your client awake at night. And the companion worry for them is that it’s going to be a surprise.

The minute you get an inkling that there might be a problem – tell your customer. Give them as much advance warning as possible and carefully outline the possible solutions or workarounds. If it’s your fault – tell them. Don’t mince words or make excuses. Own up to it, clearly and directly apologize and then tell them how you’re going to fix it.

If you want your customers to trust you and to grow to rely on you – remember that they know you’re human, they know mistakes happen and all they want from you is your honesty. Weave transparency into every interaction and watch the trust grow.


Your visuals need your attention!

March 8, 2017


No matter what kind of marketing we’re producing, it seems like we give most of our time and attention to the words. We agonize over the messaging and each and every syllable. And rightly so – they’re all very important. But for some reason, we don’t give our visuals anywhere near as much attention. That’s a huge mistake and it’s keeping your marketing from being as effective as possible.

Remember, we are visual creatures. Sixty-five percent of human beings are visual learners and even if we’re not wired that way, all of us process images 60,000 times faster than we can process auditory or written messages.

Ninety percent of what is communicated to our brain is visual. And much of the information is visually communicated in ways we aren’t even aware of at the time. We take in so much more than we realize and much of it is emotionally based. We react both intellectually and emotionally to everything we see.

Why does all of this matter? Emotions are at the core of every buying decision and long before the cash register rings – emotions allow us to form the know • like • trust chain that leads to that first purchase.

When we talk about marketing visuals, the possibilities are vast. I want you to think about everything from:

The simple aspects of your visuals like the size and shape of your marketing materials: Think about how much more we notice a square brochure versus the traditional tri-fold that fits into a #10 envelope. We’re drawn to die cuts, round business cards and websites that leverage shapes to get our attention.

Color selection: Too many companies disrespect their own color palette because someone in the marketing department is bored. Beyond protecting your brand visually by not messing with your corporate colors, remember that color is a great way to show emphasis, guide someone through a marketing piece or create eye rests on digital pieces.

Illustration versus photographs: Is what you’re trying to communicate a concrete thing or is it conceptual? What kind of a mood are you creating? Which option would be more surprising and arresting? A visual isn’t just a placeholder. It needs to add to the understanding of your message or it’s a waste of space. If you feel like your visual is trite – it is.

Stock photography versus shooting your own: This is a tough one for people because of the perceived cost variance. But don’t dismiss shooting original photography. The ability to control the mood, feature real locations, people and situations and the authenticity can be worth the expense. One budget helping option is to shoot your most vital visuals and augment them with well-chosen stock.

What kind of chart/graph would best communicate your information: When you are trying to communicate a complicated concept, charts and graphs can often be helpful. Sadly, most people cram so much into each visual that they render them useless. With charts and graphs, remember that less is more. Be mindful of the relationship between each fact you’re including. That should suggest the type of chart or graph that would best illustrate the connection.

If you’re creating an infographic, what is the storyline? Infographics are the hot “new” visual tool but most companies miss the mark. An infographic should do more than spew out stats or data. The real power of an infographic is that it can actually tell a story. Identify the arc of your story and let the visuals and facts move the viewer through the arc.

Your visuals should not be an afterthought. In fact, they often communicate on more levels than the words you so carefully craft. Give your visuals the time and respect they deserve and your marketing will be the better for it.


Rudolph – a marketing expert?

December 21, 2016

RudolphLike many of you, I’ve been juggling my work life with getting ready for the quickly approaching holidays. I can’t help myself – I see marketing everywhere I look, even classic Christmas stories! Have you ever really considered the marketing messages that are woven into the classic Christmas story about that scamp Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer?

Marketing lesson #1: You can’t hide the truth.

Rudolph didn’t embrace the fact that he was different from all the other reindeer. He tried to pass himself off as something he wasn’t just because he wanted to have a cute little black nose and the chance to play some reindeer games. That didn’t go too well for him. He got called out in public for faking it and that made people question his integrity.

If social media has taught us anything, it’s that you can fool people for a little while, but if you can’t walk the talk…don’t even try it. Be true to who or what you are and you’ll attract the perfect customers.

Marketing lesson #2: Never make assumptions. Just ask.

One of the main reasons Rudolph ran off was because he assumed Clarice wouldn’t love him once that fact that he had “a nose so bright” became common knowledge. Think of the grief he could have saved everyone if he had just checked in with her.

The speed of marketing has accelerated so much over the past few years but the one thing you shouldn’t rush past is actually talking to your customers and prospects. Check your assumptions before you go off in some crazy direction, based on a false belief.

Marketing lesson #3: Your worst enemy can turn into your greatest ally.

Sure…the Abominable Snow Monster tried to eat his girlfriend but Rudolph came to see him as a buddy — even letting him put the star atop the Christmas tree. All it took was someone like Hermey the Elf taking the time to listen to the Bumble so he could acknowledge his pain and voila, he turned the grumbling beast into a helpful and happy pal.

When someone criticizes your company, product or services’ shortcomings, it’s human nature to get defensive and assume the worst. Instead — listen. If you really work towards understanding their perspective — you can not only save the relationship but you can turn that negative word of mouth risk into a brand advocate.

Marketing lesson #4: Create raving fans and a community by giving first.

Rudolph didn’t have to promise the Misfit Toys anything. At that moment, they couldn’t help him. But with a generous heart, he promised them he’d try to find them good homes with children who would love them.

When you do something without regard for “repayment” of any kind, you create value. When you create value, people keep coming back. When they do that, you begin to build a relationship and a sense of loyalty and no one has even tried to buy or sell yet. Which makes the selling a whole lot easier, when the time comes.

Marketing lesson #5: When you find what makes you unique, it can be your ticket to new heights.

When Rudolph began to see his nose as an asset and recognized it was what set him apart from all the other reindeer, he suddenly got asked by Santa to take a leadership position. From then on, it was his calling card. People told others about his nose and pretty soon, he was known from coast to coast. That’s what branding is all about!

Companies like Apple rise to the top because they celebrate what makes them different. They recognize that having a niche means you can create brand loyalty as opposed to being lost in a sea of sameness.

Maybe the real lesson here is if you look hard enough, there’s a marketing lesson in everything!


Personal equals professional – we are one

November 9, 2016

personal equals professionalOne of the downsides of our digitally driven lives is that the dotted line is no more. What I mean by that is that you used to be able to artificially draw a dotted line in between your personal life and your professional life and to a great extent, you could control whether something would cross from one side to the other.   Not anymore.  Personal equals professional.

That dotted line was probably never as real or protective as we thought it was, but in today’s world, it no longer exists.

I just read a friend’s Facebook status and he said something to the effect of “I don’t like to blend my personal Facebook account with business, but we’re hosting a workshop that I am really proud of — so I’d like to invite all of you.”

This guy owns the company that is putting on the workshop. So in theory, his personal Facebook friends all know what he does for a living and some of them are probably even clients. But most of them are probably not fans of his official company page on Facebook. If he’d only announced it there, most of his Facebook connections would have missed it entirely.

And no one is going to unfriend him for mentioning his work alter ego on a site that some might deem for personal use only.

The truth is – there is no “personal use only” anymore. I actually think that’s better – don’t you want to know who you’re doing business with? Don’t you actually work better with someone when you know that they love rescue dogs, take an annual trip to the Tetons and hate the Yankees?

By the way, talking about your work/business is different from constantly hawking one’s wares. You shouldn’t be doing that at all – but especially not where people expect you to be social.

But the time of hiding your personal side from your professional side and visa versa is over. You aren’t two separate people and what you do outside of work and what you believe actually influences the work you do.

In fact, your personal brand – what you are all about, stand for, believe in, etc. is part of your professional brand. Personal equals professional.  And just like a company’s brand should inform and influence consumers – so should your personal one.

Regardless of which side of the Chick-fil-A fence you landed on, when the CEO, Dan Kathy, came out and talked about his personal beliefs and where he invests his company’s charitable dollars, I’m betting you suddenly had an opinion about that business. Even if you’d never eaten there before.

Did they lose customers over the controversy? Absolutely. But did they gain brand zealots who now go out of their way to support Chick-fil-A and spend even more money there? Absolutely.

The goal of branding is to locate your sweet spot customers. Those who are best aligned with you. Who you are – as a company, an employee of a company, and as a person can all help in that endeavor.

I’m not suggesting you can’t or shouldn’t have a private life that is actually private. But if you don’t want your prospective customers knowing your stance on a political issue, a family situation you’re facing or take offense at your secret love of all things Hello Kitty – then never, ever post about it online. Anywhere.

But stop artificially separating the two halves of you. It was probably never a good idea but in today’s world, it’s not only impossible but it feels very inauthentic. People want to do business with people they know, like and trust and that isn’t just about 50% of you.

Whether you are a geek freak, a Greek freak or a chic freak – let your flag fly and let it draw like-minded people to you and your business.


Honestly – it’s about honesty.

September 28, 2016

HonestyI can remember being in one of my undergrad advertising classes and the professor told us about a recent study that measured the trustworthiness or honesty of various professions. Keep in mind, this was 30+ years ago but I can still see the slides he used to show us the results. The least trusted professional was the car salesman, he revealed. Following the car salesman were members of Congress and then he paused for effect and with a click, there was the slide that besmirched the career we’d all chosen — advertising professionals.


Out of curiosity, I googled the topic today and guess what — in Gallup’s 2012 poll, the bottom three were the same. (Apparently, nurses have topped the list ever since the profession was included in the annual poll, except for 2001 when firefighters got the nod right after 9/11.)

Sadly, what those three professions have in common is that people believe that they’re not always truthful. No one wants to be taken advantage of or fooled and that’s the stereotype these professions have to fight against. The upside is that people can behave themselves out of these stereotypes. We all know honest car dealers, politicians and as marketers – we can change the perception of our profession too.

Whether you work inside a company and are responsible for its marketing, or work at an agency, or own your own business – there is hope. You can actually be the one they trust and look to for honesty.

As marketing messages got more and more prevalent, the average ad/marketing effort seemed to get louder. Everything was hyperbole and bigger, better or bolder. No wonder it created fatigue and mistrust. It’s not possible for everything to be perfect for everyone.

But your marketing can break through all of that and be something different. It can be honest and still be effective. In fact, follow these best practices and you’ll be amazed at how effective.

Use real language: When you’re writing copy – be it a tweet or for a 5-minute video, be mindful of the words you choose. Make sure you sound like the people you’re talking to. Make sure there aren’t any communication barriers that get in between you and your audience. Remember that consumers are hypersensitive to boasting and spin, so be very frugal with words that exaggerate, hype or promise too much.

Don’t try to be a round hole for someone’s square peg: You can’t possibly be the right solution for everyone, so admit that. Help your prospective customer find the best fit – even if it’s not you. While they may not put money in your pocket – I promise you, someone they know will because they’ll have heard about how you put the prospect’s best interests ahead of your own.

Don’t sugar coat the truth: This isn’t easy but it’s vital. Everyone can tell someone what they want to hear. Very few will tell them what they need to hear. As a marketing professional, you can differentiate yourself by kindly but firmly speaking the truth. By doing that, you can actually begin to look for a solution. If they can’t count on us to tell them the truth, what can they count on us for?

Help, don’t sell: Create helpful marketing that educates and elevates your audience. Don’t shout at them — teach them. People are intelligent – they’ll figure out for themselves if they should do business with you. Let them see who you are, what you know and how you can help them.

Want to break the stereotype and be a marketer characterized by honesty? Don’t exaggerate, talk like a regular human being, don’t chase everyone with a dollar in their pocket, tell the truth and be helpful.

That doesn’t sound so tough, does it?


Is there a recipe for creating trust?

September 19, 2014

creating trustWe talk about the idea of creating trust every week with our clients. At my agency, MMG, we call this equation basic marketing math: Know + Like + Trust = Sales. Translated – you will never make a sale if the prospect doesn’t know you exist, doesn’t like both what you sell and who you are and ultimately, doesn’t trust you.

It doesn’t matter if you’re selling toothpaste (hardly a considered purchase) or expensive professional services (think lawyer or accountant) – the requirements is the same.

This equation has never been more true than today. Consumers are jaded by the barrage of marketing messages they get hit with every day. They’re feeling as though someone is always selling at them (not to or with – at) and they’re wary of anything that smacks of marketing spin.

If you’re not creating trust — they are not going to be reaching for their wallet any time soon.

This is one of the reasons why word of mouth is so powerful. When someone you already trust, be it a family member, co-worker, or casual acquaintance, endorses a product or service, you know they don’t have anything to gain by it. Which makes their recommendation even more reliable. It is something you can trust.

So how does a business create that sense of trust between themselves and their prospects? Here are some tactics you should consider.

Delight your current customers: I know it seems obvious but really, when was the last time a business went out of their way to delight you? If someone is caught off-guard by remarkable service or a product that is so superior that they can’t believe it – they’re going to talk about it. You can’t beat the power of that word of mouth. But to get it, you have to earn it.

Let the customer tell you when they’re ready to buy: The minute we feel we’re being sold at – we shut down. Even if we want to buy something. I was in a local jewelry store recently. I had a healthy budget (several hundred dollars) that I was ready to spend. I walked in and really wanted to just look around on my own for a bit. But this vulture of a salesman would not leave me alone. He kept following me around the store, asking me questions to which I responded with terse, one-word answers.

Then, he finally walked away but only because he was chasing after a more talkative customer. In time I had a question and there was a different salesperson standing there. I asked her a question and she answered it. He must have given her some signal behind my back because she got this very flustered look on her face and then just walked away…and he swooped back in.

I left shortly – empty-handed. And I will check in the window before I ever enter that store again. If he’s there, I won’t be. (If you’re wondering if this was your store – email me!)

I spent my money 45 minutes later. Someplace else.

Make me a promise and then keep it: Give me a guarantee. Offer me a hassle free installation process. Stand behind your work and do it overtly. Don’t say – “well of course we’d fix it if we did it wrong” or whatever. Put it in writing. Call my attention to it. Help me get over my worry that I might be making a bad decision. And when something goes wrong – not only should you honor your original promise but you should go above and beyond it. (See delight your customers above)

You know this as well as I do. You can’t create trust. But you can sure earn it and when you do, you’ll hear the register ring.