Author of the classic read "Start with Why", Simon Sinek has long posed the question of what makes your company more trustworthy over another. What sets companies offering the same products or services apart, and why do consumers choose to buy from them instead of the competition? If creating customer loyalty around your brand or services is important to you (as it should be), here are some valuable insights into how you can instill trust from your clients.
In "Start with Why", and his many TED talks around the topic, Sinek proposes a 'golden circle'. The golden circle, with WHY in the centre, is surrounded by concentric circles of HOW, and WHAT. Sinek demonstrates that most industries focus on selling with an outward – in approach, as opposed to an inward – out approach.
Selling from outside – in means that companies highlight WHAT they do, HOW they do it and lastly WHY they do it. Doing business this way emphasises the company over the consumer. Inversely, starting with telling consumers WHY you do what you do, emphasises your position in what you can do for them rather than what your product or service does. It aligns consumers with a company's purpose its rather than its products – an immediate trust builder.
"People don't buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it" - Simon Sinek.
The Apple Philosophy:
Apple brand loyalty
Taking a look at one of Sinek's favourite examples of this approach, we can see this form of selling shine through the Apple brand's marketing and services. The philosophy of "brand above product" has made the Apple 'name' one of the businesses' most valued commodities. The company focuses on selling a lifestyle that everyone wants to be part of, one where products are tightly interwoven along with their core philosophy. They don't only speak outwardly to the consumer, but practice what they preach internally, offering incredible career opportunities and taking great care of their staff.
The Success of Apple
This attitude of staff appreciation builds loyalty first and foremost, within the company, confirming that Apple is a brand focused on quality, with knowledgeable staff who are passionate about what they do. These staff then act as ambassadors for the brand and its services which is another attractive pull to customers.
The brand philosophy has seen the company grow in leaps and bounds, allowing Apple to offer extended support products, even at a higher cost than most competitors. Products like the iPod, iTunes, iTV, iPad, iCloud, iPhone and more, are all concerned with building a brand lifestyle, rather than focusing on one specific product. These products are all designed to work synergistically as each one forms part of a larger whole. Going from minimal press coverage in 1997, to the best news coverage in 2010 thanks to a substantial $15.68 billion first quarter revenue in 2009, is indicative of the success of this approach.
While Apple's blueprint may not be a sure-fire success for your company, there are some crucial points you can take out and apply in line with the size and scope of your enterprise.
How to apply some trust building techniques to your marketing strategy:
With regards to inbound marketing, your trust building techniques should start at home – on your site. Tiny tweaks to your site can go a long way in creating brand loyalty and even establish you as an industry thought leader, rather than a follower.
Authentic Blog Content – keep your posts in line with SEO best practice, on topic, original, well researched and well-written.
Authentic Images – generic imagery is the worst (they're usually bad quality and overused) and stock images can get quite expensive, perhaps consider some real images of you and your staff where possible, which also lends to some personality to your services.
Testimonials – have satisfied customers or partners feature on your home page with a genuine testimonial, it's useful for establishing trust with new visitors/users.
Resources – provide links to your sources to prove your content findings and research, and that give readers some additional content on the topic.
Social Proof – client and partner logos do well to show how connected you are and the caliber of your services.
Customer Communication – some quick and responsive action shows that you put your customers' needs first, value their engagement, aren't afraid to deal with their complaints and stand by your brand.
Social Responsibility – engaging with your community speaks volumes about your social awareness and shows that you're not just concerned with turning a profit. It's also a great opportunity to set up your brand as a trust agent and spread that company philosophy organically on a large platform like social media, etc.
Social Media – your social engagement provides further insights to your company and gives you a face and a personality beyond what you sell and the scope of your services. Ensure that you are ever present on all social platforms to better articulate the WHY in your very own 'golden circle'.
These basic guidelines seem obvious but are very often overlooked. Make sure that you tackle the fundamental steps, before rolling out anything quite as in-depth as Apple. It's a good idea to pay attention to Net Promoter Score (NPS) and the Trust Index which many companies subscribe to. NP scores are a good indication of which companies are getting it right and do a good job of securing trust from their clients.
Learn more about how to go about creating an ecosystem of trust around your brand, and how influential Earned Media can be in getting you there.