Ultimately, all of your business growth comes from the trust you build with customers. This process begins at the first Google search, so many businesses are invested in digital marketing, When considering a digital marketing vendor, you need to understand what a they can actually accomplish for you and what steps you need to do yourself, as well as how to develop a process to build trust with your customers and win more business.

Understanding Trust

For a customer to have trust in your business, you have to bring them across a certain threshold. This is going to be different for every business. If a customer perceives a product or service as high risk, it is going to take more trust to cross that threshold than if they perceive it as low risk. Some factors that are associated with a higher risk are things like cost and the degree of complexity. For example, it takes a lot less trust for a customer to buy a sandwich than a new car or a piece of financial software. 

To get rid of some of that risk, you can do certain things to build the trust with your customer. You might consider:

  • Offering a money-back guarantee
  • Eliminating long-term contracts
  • Sharing referrals and reviews

Relational Equity

Trust is all about building relational equity. Relational equity is the idea that every time you do something that exceeds expectations, you build trust, and every time you fail to meet expectations, you lose trust. The goal is to over time build up enough relational equity that even if you make a mistake here or there it does not wipe out all of the customer’s trust.

Even with this relational equity, there are still things that will almost definitely break trust. Some examples of this are:

  • Being Prideful and Arrogant
  • Neglecting a Customer
  • Poor Communication
  • Making Errors
  • Overpromising and Under-delivering

The Trust Building Touch Points

The Growth Track process, also known as your sales funnel, is a basic framework for building trust with customers. No matter what product or service your business provides, this can serve as a guideline for moving someone from your service obtainable market, to a lead, to a prospect, to a customer.

The Challenge of Digital Marketing Providers

Many small businesses are drawn to a digital marketing vendor that is able to execute a campaign at a much higher level than they are able to. These businesses have professionals in fields of design, copywriting, SEO, and branding, but there are still limitations to what they can do for you. 

One thing to remember is that much of the trust building process with a prospective customer happens outside of the scope of digital marketing, so there is only a certain portion of this process that a marketing provider is handling. Digital marketing providers are also expensive, so a small business will often only be able to pay for an initial launch and a small amount of help after that, when it is almost always better to start with the basics and carefully craft your content from there. Many small businesses do not have the funding to work in the close collaboration necessary to make this happen.

Small business owners need to understand that while digital marketing is important, it’s only a small part of the sales funnel, and that no amount of lead generation will make up for a poor process of building trust with customers. If you have a spectacular trust building process, you’re not going to need as many leads because you will be far more effective at closing them. 


Video Transcription:


This lesson is on How To Grow Your Business through digital marketing. So we’re going to cover a lot of ground in this presentation. What it really all is going to come down to fundamentally, is this trust-building process that we use here called a debate to help you develop a trust-building process that you can use to develop and win customers. So that’s what this is going to be all about. Ultimately, our goal is to help you win new customers. 

Olivia’s Trust-Building Process

So I’m going to walk us through the trust-building process with customers. I want to begin by using a simple illustration. This is an example of Olivia. This is Olivia is a trust-building story. And, as I hope we’ll see, eventually this process for a simple stand at a farmers market. The process that customers move through to develop trust and buy this product is going to really be applicable to almost any business that you and I would have. 

Olivia’s Trust-Building Story

So this is Olivia’s trust-building process. So Olivia sets up on a Saturday morning at a local farmers market here in Central Ohio to sell amazing bread. So what happens is the standard is set up, the samples are put out in customers start walking by we call this for service obtainable market. This is the visible audience that’s going to come through the farmers’ market and their market. And the first step is simply a “good morning”. So we say good morning and what happens is the customers see they engage Olivia, and they turn their heads. So that’s the first step is this is a service attainable market in a way you could imagine this as like the ad for the business. There are lots of ways we do this. In this case at the farmers market, we’re simply saying good morning, but in a Facebook ad or a Google ad, or a print ad, we would have some other kind of way to get people to turn their heads engage, and explore this product for more. So the next step is to engage. So we say; “come on up and try as many samples as you like”. So this is like a call to action. So this is the first step. This is like them clicking and coming to the landing page of our website. When this happens. They step up, they begin to try some samples and they’re engaged but they’re still an unqualified lead. We don’t know at this point. If they have money to buy bread. Are they actually interested in buying bread? They just being polite. Maybe they’re interested in trying some samples. We don’t know. They’re an unqualified lead. 

But once they step up to the table, this is where we can then begin a discovery process. So Olivia will ask them some questions to better understand what their needs are. What kind of meal are you trying to have this bread with? You know, maybe they’re interested in a particular flavor of the bread. And Olivia will explain why she likes that loaf of bread. So there are lots of different ways to start this conversation to really understand what it is they’re looking for. There might be things that you can do to build a rapport with that customer. Maybe they have brought their dog to the farmers’ market. And as a pet lover yourself, you know, you begin to relate and I build on that. So what happens is people step up to the table, they begin to get their questions answered, and you begin this trust-building process. Proud begins to gather because they see all the attention around this product. Eventually, their qualify you realize that they do have the ability and the interest in buying this bread. And then at some point, hopefully, the customer trusts Olivia. 

They trust the brand, trust the product and they purchase the bread. That customer is one that trust has been earned. So Olivia on a Saturday morning will potentially sell 94 loaves of bread in three hours. So Olivia is just killing it on the bread sales. But this is this process that Olivia uses to move customers through this trust-building process at the farmers market is really as we’ll see the same process that we use every day in developing and nurturing customers for just about any kind of business that we have.


Building Rational Equity

The next thing we need to understand about trust is trust. It is really about building relational equity. So relational equity is this idea that every time you do something with a customer that exceeds their expectation (in any relationship we have) when we do something that exceeds their expectation, we create a trust deposit. It’s like we’re adding money to this bank account that we have. This trust account that we have with this person. So we exceed their expectations. We’re creating a relational deposit, we’re making this trust deposit. Whenever we fail, and we don’t meet the expectations, that we have with this relationship. We make that trust withdrawal. The hope is that we over time build up enough of these trust deposits that even though we slip in and make a few mistakes here or there in the relationship, those mistakes are not so drastic that it wipes out all the relational equity that we’ve we’ve established. 

If the amount of trust deposits that we make in a relationship is greater than the trust withdrawals, then when we do make a mistake, we do fall short of expectations. We have enough relational equity that we essentially have Accident Forgiveness. So this is why when we have a loved one in our life, and we do something that is irritating to them, you know they don’t immediately kick us to the curb because we have built enough trust deposits with them over time. So the same was true for customers. So I’ll give you a couple of examples of this. The first example was when I was in a business relationship where I made a trust deposit. And this came about when I had a customer who was actually my largest customer at the time, and we had one a new project with them. It was a substantial new project. We had done a lot of work with this company over several years. We’re working on this new project. We had a signed agreement we had a purchase order. We were then invoiced this client we build them the initial building for this project, and we began working in earnest on this project. Well, after about a month into this project, the boss of the main person that I interacted with at this company, came to my customer and said that we are not doing this project with Matt’s company and we’re going to go a different way. 

In fact, you need to go to Matt and get a refund of everything that we’ve paid him for this job so far. And if you don’t, then you will be fired. So that’s what was told to my customer. A customer called me to explain the situation and you know, by all rights, we were entitled to this money that we had received, we had a purchase order and agreement. We were paid the money to begin working on this project. So I had to make a decision was I going to cause my customer to get fired? Over this? Or was I going to give the refund and I made the calculation that the best thing to do in this situation was to give a refund and we would basically live to fight another day when it came to doing work for this client? 

But you can imagine the trust deposit that I made with that customer on that day I saved his job based on my reaction. So we went on to do lots of great work with that client over many, many years. And it really the amount of money that we lost in the scheme of things was a small amount of money but that was a day we made a big trust deposit. Another example is an example of a big trust withdrawal. So prior to starting my own company, I worked for a large advertising company, and we had taken on a very large project with a new customer the powers that be and my company really felt they understood how to price and quote this project. We had this job in and we realize that we severely underquoted this job to the tune of about $100,000, so I was asked to go back to that customer and tell them that we misquoted this job and that we in fact needed to charge them a very substantial overcharge on this job for the work that we were. So it all worked out. We were able to get the extra money but when you go to a customer and you don’t follow through with what you said you were going to do, that’s an example of missing their expectations. You fail and you’re taking a big trust withdrawal on that day. 

Olivia’s Trust Building Story

So I’m going to bring this back to the trust-building story, this growth track process so Olivia’s trust-building process. You put your ad whatever it is that you’re doing, you put your message in front of your service obtainable market, you expose them to your product or service, and you explain your unique value proposition. They come up they’re engaged they respond to this call to action. Next, you have a click. It’s like they’re coming to your landing page. From there you go through this discovery process you answer questions that they have, overcome objections that they have you go through this trust-building or discovery process. And from there that customer is one you earn their trust. 

They trust in you they trust in your product, they trust in your brand, and then you continue that trust-building process. Once they become a customer. You want to keep building relational equity, you want to keep the trust that you work so hard to build. You want to have them as a repeat customer. You want to upsell them, you want to cross-sell them you want to get referrals and reviews. That’s the trust-building story. 

Your Trust- Building Touch Points

This is the diagram that we use to explain the growth track. This is the process that we use in Cultivate to help you build trust with customers. So hopefully you’ll see the more simple example that I gave with Olivia’s story and how this is going to translate to your business. So I’m going to step through each of these sections. So the first thing This all begins with how do you reach your service obtainable market? How do you put yourself in front of your audience? And there are really two main ways that we do this as a small business. The first is we reach our audience through our digital marketing we’re trying to get them to click on something and bring them to our website, whether it’s an ad, a social media post, or an email that we send out.

So with our digital marketing, there are really two ways that we can draw our service market towards us. The first is we can do some things to pull them towards us. So this might be just these ways that we’re attracting them. So we might be targeting certain keywords on our website, and we might have different metadata in other ways that we structure content on our site and pull people towards us. The second thing we can do with our digital marketing is we can do paid ads or other kinds of ads where we are modifying the descriptive copy and the key visuals in those ads, trying to push people towards our website towards engagement with us. 

The second way that we reach our servers obtainable market as a small business owner is through the hustle. So if you’re the CEO or you’re the business founder, this rests on your shoulders, you are the one leading this charge. So this is the hustle. So this is you sending out emails to prospective customers, making phone calls, going to networking events, you know all the things that you’re trying to do. To meet potential customers and drum up business. But regardless of how you’re reaching your service on the market, whether it’s through your direct sales and network building, or through your digital marketing, ultimately these people are likely going to your website.

So a couple of things that I like to point out here in the area of this diagram that I have slightly bolder in green. I want to point out that if you’re working with a digital marketing vendor, you’re working with a marketing company, somebody to help you to develop new business for your, for your company, or maybe even you have an employee that’s tasked with this.

The area that I have highlighted with those boulder green rules, the brand execution, the digital marketing, that those are the that is the maximum scope of what a digital marketing vendor can do for you to help you in this whole process. And it’s important to understand that their role is really confined to those two things. Those are the things that they can do to potentially help you to generate more traffic, more leads, you know, on through your website and through your digital marketing that you’re running.

But that’s only one part of the entire trust-building process that I have in here is not going to touch the part that you do through your hustle, it’s not going to park it’s not going to touch the rest of this process that we have on this diagram. So if you don’t understand that then you’re going to have a miss conception you’re going to have a miss expectation of what this digital marketing vendor is going to be able to accomplish for you. It’s also important that you are communicating with them. What is happening with these leads that are coming in are they delivering quality leads are they drove delivering the right volume of leads, you know, that whole cycle of feedback and information needs to go back to that digital marketing vendor. If you’re paying someone to do that for you.

So they come to your website, they respond to your core message, your unique value proposition. They click on your call to action and fill out a short form and they become a lead or they pick up the phone and call your business. So this is where this trust-building process really comes into it. And this is where most of us have more of a personal selling process at this point. So this is where we’re building a relationship with people. We’re trying to answer their questions and resolve objections that have helped them better understand our claims. And how this product or service we have is going to solve their problem. This is where we’re going to have to ask for a proposal we’re gonna have to move them towards the sale and there’s a variety of ways we might do this. We might have them sign up for our free trial so they can test the waters we might have them ask what we call a trial closed, and see if they’re ready to keep the deal.

So we move them through this trust-building process and what you might call a discovery process. And hopefully, we move them on to where they trust in you they trust in the product or service that you’re selling. They trust in your brand. And they buy the product or service at that point the customer is one you’ve earned their trust. So one more thing that I’d like to point out in this diagram is that virtual, no amount of digital marketing or lead generation makes up for a poor trust-building process. 

It’s super important. So if we could be spending 1000s of dollars a month generating tons of leads. But if what happens when they convert and we get that form in our inbox, or they call us if we don’t have a great trust-building process at that point we’re not going to be very effective at closing those leads and converting those people building trust with them for them to become a customer. On the other hand, if we have a spectacular process of building trust with customers we just have refined and refined and tweaked this process to where we have a great flow and our sales funnel, how to move them through to become a customer to earn their trust. And we don’t need to have as many leads coming through digital marketing, because we’re so effective at closing our leads. So that’s really important. 

So back to the diagram once we have earned their business, we’ve won their trust. We want to continue this trust-building process with our customers. We’re continuing to create relational equity by exceeding their expectations. We’re doing things to keep their trust and we want them to be a repeat customer. We want to upsell and cross-sell we want to get referrals and we want to get reviews. 

The Entrepreneur Challenge with Digital Marketing Providers

As small business owners, we have challenges as an entrepreneur with digital marketing providers. So I see this all the time where small businesses barely have money that they can afford to spend and allocate for their marketing. And they need to make sure it’s used very wisely, but here’s the thing that I want to point out. First of all, if you are working with a quality digital marketing vendor, it is almost certain that they would execute their scope of work at a much higher level than you will as a small business owner. When it comes to branding, they’re going to have professionals that can help with the design, the copy, you know crafting a great call to action or brainy people that you can pay that will do a much higher level at that than most of us can. 

The same is true when it comes to your SEO your search engine optimization I have experts that can research these targeted keywords. You can configure some of the technicals on the site to make sure that there’s a proper structure to how you’re optimizing for these keywords. They can do that at a much higher level than you can. The same is true for your paid ads. You know there are amazing features on Google, Facebook, and all these online marketing tools that have filters targeting, they’re going to help you use key visuals and great copy for these ads. And then the fourth thing is your social media management. You know these are these people are experts in their field. But you have to realize the limitation of the trust-building process that a vendor what a vendor can do for you. You know they can only do certain aspects of the digital marketing process for you. They cannot really take over the entire trust-building process that you have with customers.

So as we’re looking at what a digital marketing provider can do for our small business, what we have to understand is that much of the trust-building process that we have with a prospective customer happens outside of the scope of our digital marketing. There’s only so much of this trust-building process that happens online. A lot of it is going to happen through our personal selling and the way we communicate and correspond with our prospective customers. 

So what ends up happening often in times, is when we work with a digital marketing vendor, for instance, to build a new website, many companies because it’s so expensive to have that vendor help them with their website. They adopt what we would call a build and hold approach versus a launch and iterate approach. And what I mean by that is they’ll spend, you know 345, 10,000, $20,000 building a great website out and that website is good and accurate as of the moment when they launched that site. 

But what really needs to happen is we did keep refining the messaging on that website to keep adding unique quality, substantive content on that site. So we would advocate instead of building that website and then being afraid to touch it for the next two or three years because it’s so expensive. Every time you pick up the phone or shoot a request email request to that vendor. We would recommend an approach where you launch a simpler cleaner but well-structured site and then add to that as you go and iterate on that as you go.

The second thing I’d like to point out is, that in order to work with a digital marketing vendor, it’s going to require very close collaboration. So as you’re getting leads from your website, and you need to communicate back to that digital marketing vendor, the effectiveness and the quality of those leads, you’ll need to have a great loop of feedback they need to understand you know, how these people are, are becoming customers or where that process is breaking down. So you can you know, incorporate all that feedback into the entire process. Well if you are trying to work with a digital marketing vendor where you’re only spending 100, 200, or $300 a month, you’re just not going to be able to make enough investment to have enough of their time to really have that type of close collaboration with them. You’re only buying a couple of hours a month of their time. So you really in order to have that kind of collaboration with a vendor you’re going to have to spend no in the 1000s of dollars a month typically, to have that level of time to really closely collaborate for your business.

So what ends up happening is you work with a vendor and you get you to focus on your end up getting caught up on things like the number of people coming to your site, you know, things that don’t necessarily translate into sales. And what you really need to focus on is the movement of people through your funnel. So again, I’m making this key point that virtually no amount of lead generation can make up for a poor process of building trust with customers. So if you have a spectacular trust-building process, you’re not going to need as many leads. as opposed if you have a poor trust-building process. you’re going to need to have a lot of ways because you’re not going to be very effective at closing them.