It’s a bit ironic, perhaps, to talk about the importance of trust to a bunch of magicians. Our job, after all, is deception. We get paid to lie to people. And yet, even there, our success as entertainer depends on people trusting us, doesn’t it?
In some ways, doing business over the Internet represents something of a Catch-22 for people. On the one hand, they love the variety and convenience, but at the same time they hate feeling like they’re taking unnecessary risks because they don’t know anything about the person or company they are working with. It’s not that different with hiring a magician, either, not unless the client has worked with you before. Any business relationship contains an element of risk.
Building transparency into your online marketing can not only help put a customer’s minds at ease, but can give you an important competitive advantage over other businesses in your market.
The first prerequisite of any purchase is desire. I have to want something before I’ll buy it.
Beyond that, however, there are two balancing factors that contribute to every single human transaction. They sit on opposite side a scale and if any one side gets too far out of whack there won’t be a purchase.
The factors are Trust and Value.
Generally speaking, I’m not going to buy from you unless I trust you. I have to trust in your ability to deliver on the promises you make, and I have to trust that the results you help me achieve will be real and live up to my expectations.
Of course, I also have to see value in what you have to offer. What I’m getting out of the transaction has to be worth what I’m paying for it. Value is a function of price, but price is not the only consideration.
If you offer me a really exceptional value, I might buy even if my trust is a bit low. On the other hand, if I trust you completely I might be willing to buy even if the price is a bit higher than others. You can never entirely remove either Trust or Value, but one can on occasion substitute for the other.
Essentially, that means that if you don’t want to take the time or make the effort to establish trust, your alternative is to lower your prices. That is EXACTLY why some performers, be it amateurs or kids just getting started, will frequently underbid more experienced magicians. The only counter to low bids is to establish trust so the buyer can feel comfortable spending more money for better results.
The Number One key to building and retaining customer loyalty is to achieve a great level of trust. We live in a world full of bad intentions, and customers are tightening up their guard. It won’t be easy gaining people’s trust and it takes time, but it’s worth it!
How to Build Trust
Here are a few things you can do to build trust through transparency, and help buyers feel more comfortable and put their worries at ease in the process:
Make contact easy. Trustworthy businesses want people to contact them with questions and issues; they don’t have any reason to hide behind anonymity. If you want clients to get in touch with you, show them how. Put your phone number at the top of your marketing materials and tell them to call. When you call them, give them your phone number again at the end of the conversation and tell them to call. If you have a web site, put a contact form at the bottom of your home page.
Make your email address personal. Don’t use an email address like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Use your own name so prospects know they are dealing with a real live human being. On the flip side of that, however, you ARE a businessman and your email address should reflect that. Don’t use an email address tied to yahoo.com, gmail.com or (heaven forbid) hotmail.com. You have a domain name. Use it.
Post real customer testimonials. We’ve already talked a lot about testimonials, but we can’t talk about trust without including them again. Simple one-line recommendations don’t cut it anymore, because customers know they are too easy to falsify or embellish. If at all possible, use customer testimonials that have full names, details, and even a few details about the situation.
Include facts and supporting details. The more you can back up what you have to say, the easier it is for people to believe in you and your claims. This especially works if you can reference things like university studies, or surveys performed through mainstream media outlets.
Allow customers to post honest reviews. That means not filtering out the ones that don’t say exactly what you would like (although it is fair to respond). Assuming your reviews are mostly positive, customers will appreciate the transparency – they know no company can please everyone 100% of the time.
Be upfront about mistakes. On a related note, don’t try to hide minor blunders. Instead, address them and show buyers what you learned through the process. Handle things correctly, and you’ll develop a reputation for honesty while showing customers that you won’t make the same mistake twice.
Share small slices of personal information. Obviously, posting sensitive details on your website or “over-sharing” about your personal preferences and relationships is a bad idea. But, occasionally showing customers your human side can help them have more trust in your company.
Use photos of yourself, your team, and your facility. In the same way, a few simple snapshots, especially those that give buyers a “behind-the-scenes” look at your business, can help reinforce the idea that you are real people, not a faceless company that only exists on the Internet.
Explain your processes to customers. In other words, never leave any doubt as to what will happen when a customer presses a button, clicks a link, or signs up for more information. People don’t like surprises, especially when they come from businesses that they aren’t familiar with yet.
Reduce risk. A buyer’s biggest concern is usually how well your performance will suit his needs. Providing a guarantee will help, though in many cases it isn’t going to make the sale. Don’t be afraid to baldly state your commitment to seeing that your clients are not only happy, but ecstatic about your product and services.
Take advantage of outside verification. From seals that show your site is safe from hackers to endorsements from industry authorities and the Better Business Bureau, you can use outside approval and verification to show that your company is legitimate and trustworthy.
Personalize your marketing. It’s a common misconception that to sound credible your marketing should be dry and impersonal. People do business with people. You need to help prospects get to know you and trust you. Let your passion and personality come across in your marketing as well as your professionalism. Include a picture of yourself, with a smile, in a prominent place on the first page of your marketing materials.
Build a strong online reputation. One of the best ways to be transparent is to let your previous satisfied customers speak for you. Do the right things, and they’ll leave you great feedback on social media profiles, industry sites, and elsewhere online.
Stay in touch. The people you see and talk to on a regular basis are usually the ones you trust the most. Communication isn’t the only ingredient for developing trust, but it is a critical one. Sometimes a personal phone call is one of the best ways to answer a prospect’s questions and to establish trust. Contact your prospects and clients regularly and get feedback on what they are concerned about.