If you’ve seen ‘Meet the Parents’ you’ll know all about the Circle of Trust. Here’s a reminder in case you need one. One thing you need to know about the Circle of Trust is that you can’t just enter, and my God, if you screw up you will be cast out into the cold, dark night, never to be invited back again.
A Lucky Escape…
I experienced such a circle for myself a few weeks ago. I was at a party, having a fairly good time, when a gaggle of women I know vaguely, entered the room. We’ll call them the Alphas – wannabe Desperate Housewives who can sniff out a bottle of Prosecco before it’s even opened. They moved slowly across the floor as one, scanning every party-goer in turn, giving them the once over and a sly sideways glance. Grown men stared at their shoes, small children started to cry.
Before I knew it, they were slithering my way and I knew I was going to have to stand my ground or turn and run. I stood firm and smiled, hoping I looked genuine and not like shark bait. Dammit, I may as well have just climbed into a big old bucket and scrawled ‘Shark Bait’ on the side! They circled me, asking me how I was, what I was drinking, and proclaiming things like “Oh, your hair is…interesting! It suits you!” Mid-conversation with one of them, I turned to get my drink that was on the shelf behind me. Now, I didn’t walk away, I didn’t move more than a few inches to the side to reach for my glass, and it took all of about three seconds to complete the manoeuvre. As I turned back to continue the conversation, I stood and watched as their circle slowly started to close. The space I had occupied just three seconds ago was gone. What the…?! I was being closed out! I had been in mid-conversation and I was being closed out! I moved to one side, I moved to the other. I jumped up, waving my arms. Helloooo! Erm…I just turned to get my drink there and I think you…erm… There was no way back in! They were carrying on another conversation without me. Think The Maze Runner when the maze closes. Like that! Exactly like that, and then they slithered off again not even glancing back. I was in the Circle of Trust, and then I was out of it again, and all within seconds.
So, How Does This Relate To Marketing Exactly?
That’s a good question, and you’ll have to enter my Circle of Trust to find out. Not really! There is something to be learned from my story. Customers have circles of trust too. These are the “go-to” companies they will always choose over anybody else, and this is where you want to be and where you need to stay. But how do you get here? What are your customers looking for in order to let you enter their circle?
Okay, let’s go back a few years. Back then, small businesses wanted to appear larger in order to gain customer trust. They paid through the nose for a respected office location, produced fancy schmancy business cards and stationery and invested in the latest technology. These days, businesses, regardless of their size, want to appear smaller and offer personal service to their customers.
How To Enter The Circle Of Trust And Stay There
There are many ways to build trust amongst your target audience. This is the key to securing new and repeat business – word of mouth recommendations and loyal customers will build your brand and ensure your customers come to you whenever they need your service or products.
Here are just some of the ways you can do that:
Be Passionate – Startups are usually much better at this than established companies. In established companies, that raw enthusiasm present at the start can often be replaced with complacency and this can be the death knell for many businesses. Show your customers you care about your business and you care about them. Use plain English, and lots of interesting and engaging content to illustrate that passion.
Sell Yourself – So, you’ve published your sales pitch on your website. What about that positive customer feedback? So many companies fail to make the most of this feedback and use it to their advantage. Customers like to know that others trust you, and they will usually be more inclined to deal with you if you have a proven track record. Customer feedback is like free advertising and you should do all you can to collect it at any given opportunity.
Use Social Media – If you’re not using social media yet, it’s time to get started. More and more people use social media to find out more about the companies they want to deal with. It’s also a relatively inexpensive way to build and manage your reputation online. Just remember to post responsibly and to respond to every social media reply from your customers.
Free Trials And Money Back Guarantees – These are great for winning business. Your customers want to know they have nothing to lose by trusting you, free trials and guarantees give them this peace of mind.