In our company blog, we recently posted about the growth of our business and how we had made a few mistakes when first starting out. Our fabulous marketing consultant naturally questioned the wisdom of this approach, but we stuck to our guns.
Foolish? Perhaps, but if new media blogs and articles are anything to go by, we can only win trust through our honesty.
While traditional marketing techniques taught us to focus on the positive and play down the negative, the new media are confronting us with the need for honesty in building trust.
Today’s consumers – especially the Y generation – aren’t so easily fooled by trite sound-bites. They’re healthily suspicious of businesses that claim perfection – to be all things to all people, totally impervious to human error.
It seems trust is more likely to be generated by a business with a human face – one that admits it’s shortcomings and explains how it plans to, or has, overcome them.
Transparent Marketing goes into great detail about the benefits of employing honesty in your promotional materials in order to build trust. It’s worth reading the whole article, but in brief, the advice comes down to the following:
1. Tell (only) the (verifiable) truth – today’s consumer will reject anything that can’t be verified.
2. Purge all vague modifers (such as ‘finest’, ‘consistently’, ‘superior’) – if you’re left with little of substance, you need to start again.
3. Let someone else do your bragging – customers, peers, reviewers, or I would add, credible journalists.
4. Substitute general descriptions with specific facts.
5. Admit your weaknesses – not only does this help to engender trust but it sets you apart from your competitors in an engaging way.
Blogs are an ideal vehicle for building trust, as they give your business a human face – something consumers are longing for in the virtual world of today’s business platforms. Readers are savvy enough to suss you pretty quickly if you’re not being honest, or you’re just spinning a line. They read your blog because they like you and detect the seeds of trust.
Expert blogger, Robert Scoble, has eulogised the blog as the ideal trust-building tool in How the Blog Trust Network Works.
Building on this model, our PublicityShip website explains how small businesses can nurture growth by using blogging strategically, as well as harnessing the effects good old-fashioned publicity (someone else doing your bragging).