Either they trust you or they don’t

This is a guest post from Drew McLellan, CEO and Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group.

  • Marketing
  • The art of selling
  • Customer loyalty
  • Brand promise
  • Social credibility

All very important concepts on my blog. And in your organization. At the core of every one of them is trust. Or the lack thereof.

Think of any relationship you have — personal or professional.  How close you feel to that person is directly correlated to how much you trust them. The deeper the trust, the deeper the relationship. And the deeper the relationship, the more likely it is to be long lasting. Which from your business’ point of view translates to more profitable. (This works the same with employees, by the way.)

The only thing more painful than being in a relationship where you are not trusted… is being in a relationship where you cannot trust. In fact, no real relationship can exist where trust does not.

So sooner or later… it will go away.

Notice that I didn’t say like, love, respect, or admire. We can like or even love someone and not trust them. We can respect someone’s work or intelligence and not trust them. We can even admire someone’s abilities or talents and still not trust them.

I can be the most innovative, proactive, on the cutting edge, smartest marketing guy in the world — but if you don’t trust me and believe that I have your best interest at heart — you simply won’t be able to do business with me over the long haul.

Why? Because there will always be that nagging doubt. You will always question my sincerity. You will see hidden motives and meanings, even if they don’t exist. Even when I offer rationale and truthful explanations — you’ll wonder what’s underneath.

Trust defies logic, fact, and truth. It’s all about the gut. Factually accurate or not — it is innate in nature.

I know with certainty (and you know this about your company as well) that clients hire us based on how they feel about us. And in our case, being a marketing agency — they are bringing their hopes, dreams, fears, baggage, dirty laundry, and secrets with them. They are hoping like crazy that they can spill that bag onto our conference room table and let us see it all and help them sort it out.

But first, they need to decide if they trust us. Do we really care or are we just trying to get their money? And your clients are asking themselves the same questions about you.

So, how do you create an atmosphere of trust? How do you reassure prospects and current clients that you’re worthy of their trust?

1. Be human

We make mistakes. We don’t know all the answers. We forget things. When any of those happen with a client — say so. And point it out before they notice.

Example: I honestly don’t know how to get our software to give you the information you need. But, I’m on it and will report back.

2. Be honest about what you can/can’t do

You’re not the best at everything. You have strengths and weaknesses as an organization. Disclose those and show how you overcome them.

Example: Our strength is really in the writing and directing sides of things. We partner with a very good videographer to shoot. Their costs are already included in the estimate.

3. Care

Don’t say that you care — actually care. And caring is an action verb. Do things that demonstrate that your customer’s best interests matter to you. Go out of your way. Regularly.

Example: We didn’t replace the gasket because we couldn’t get your car to act up the way you described. So, we called the dealership and they didn’t know. Then, we called Ford and they faxed us some information and it turns out, it was your flibberdejibbit.

4. Behave in a way that creates trust

Trust is strengthened or weakened by actions. There’s a reason we all know the axiom actions speak louder than words. It’s harder to mask true intentions in a behavior than it is to sugarcoat some words.

Examples: Create simple, easy to understand invoices. Always be happy to over explain when a customer has a question about your process, your costs, or your intentions.

We want to create love affairs with our customers. That can’t happen without earning their trust. Trust is what drives word of mouth. Trust is what earns loyalty. And trust is at the heart of any relationship worth having.


About Drew McLellan

Wall Street Journal calls Drew McLellan’s blog, DrewsMarketingMinute.com, "one of the ten blogs every entrepreneur should read." His passion is helping clients discover their story so they can create authentic love affairs with their customers. He's also an author, national speaker, and has owned his own marketing agency in the Midwest since 1995.

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  1. Elaine Fogel

    Agree 100%, Drew!

  2. Drew McLellan


    I know you do. One of the things I love about your marketing counsel is that you always remind your readers how important trust is to the long term success of their business.


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