Truth in Advertising
Image by Peter Blanchard via Flickr

Trust is a powerful tool in the business arsenal. It’s the enabler to the value exchange that a business seeks with its consumer. With trust, businesses can weather some pretty bad situations. Without it, you’re in a very bad situation. Fortunately, we live in an optimistic society and most companies are given a fair chance to prove themselves.

The Internet has leveraged this trust with its beta releases. It’s a way to test a product in the production environment prior to being production ready. There’s an inherent trust for a user to try a beta product that by its beta name admits will have issues. The expectation is that those issues will not be serious to the user. Because of that trust, the user gets a first look at something new and cool, and the company gets to see its product perform in a real-world environment. That’s the value exchange that trust enabled.

Advertising works not because consumers love it, but because the value exchange of free content for viewing ads is apparent. If the message becomes too much about the advertising, the consumer moves on to a different choice. I’ve canceled magazine subscriptions when I couldn’t find the table of content for the sheer number of ads. Digital is even less forgiving.

You’ll find this mantra in social media guidance. You can’t just sell. It’s boring, offensive and you’ll wind up social all by yourself. If you’re interesting and relevant, people will want to hear what you say and hang around more. You’ve earned their trust.

So, how do you earn and maintain trust?

Be True to Your Word

Wal-Mart offers Always. Low Prices. You can always go into a Wal-Mart and get a very good price. Not always the lowest, but consistently in that vacinity so most consumers are forgiving if they’re not.

Admit When Your Wrong

Facebook continues to test the boundaries of their privacy policy. They’ve made some missteps and retracted the changes – keeping the trust of their consumers. The fact that they continue to stumble in this area, based on consumer reactions, will show the strength of that trust overtime.

Be Open and Honest

If you’re open with your customers, that’s an easy way to gain trust and respect – even if you can’t meet their needs.

These are pretty standard things for any relationship. But that’s what builds trust is that ongoing relationship. So, each touchpoint between you and the consumer is an opportunity to build on that trust. The more trust you have, the better the position for the rest of your business.

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