How to Market Trust

Having a Facebook Page will not bring instant sales.

Twitter will not triple your Web traffic overnight.

A press release will not get journalists banging down your door.

Harsh truths, I know, but ones you need to hear. The problem with small businesses and marketing is they want instant pudding. They want to see a spike in sales or Web traffic instantly, and that simply doesn’t happen unless you’re Old Spice. Freshly showered men aside, all your marketing efforts should lead to one thing: trust.

Market Trust

Why Trust Is Important

Is trust necessary? Not really. You could sell a thousand widgets to a thousand people and never see them again. Or you could work to build trust with these customers, and rely on them to become your brand evangelists, to let them tell others how great you are because you’re a trustworthy company. Let them blog, tweet and share their love on Facebook.

Trust keeps customers coming back. If what you sell costs a lot of money, it gives them the confidence to drop the $100, $1,000 or $10,000 on your product.

How to Build Trust

Every component of marketing is about trust-building, if done properly.

  • Social Media. Face it: You probably haven’t bought much from brands on Twitter just because they’re there. If a brand you’re following is having a promotion, you might click the link and buy. But that’s promotion. Not marketing. So your role in social media is to use it as a channel to build trust. Create conversations, whether they’re related to your industry or not. Share relevant links, even if they’re not from your own blog. Interact. Give people a reason to seek your brand out on Facebook or Twitter. A great example of a brand that does this is Mabel’s Labels. Under @mabelhood, the brand shares bloggers’ links and rallies behind its supportive followers. They’ve created a community that translates into trust, and then into sales.
  • Press Releases. Sometimes trust is just about being there consistently. Putting out a press release each month can go a long way to say, “Hey! We’re still here doing awesome things.” And while journalists may not be clamoring to publish your news, searching for keywords that lead them to one press release after another from your brand certainly shows that you’re consistent. And consistency is one of the cornerstones of a healthy relationship, is it not?
  • Blogger Relations. If you’re smart enough to be working with bloggers to spread the word about your products, kudos. But how you work with them can have just as much impact on your brand as what they think of the product. First off, pay your bloggers. Their time is as valuable as yours. But be there for them too. Make sure they know you’re partners in the blogger outreach campaign you’re working on, and make sure to address any questions or concerns they have before they post. If you build that trust, they’ll go beyond the call of duty for the campaign and talk about your brand on all the social channels, resulting in bonus play for you.

Where to Go From Here

If I’ve put you into a tailspin, don’t worry. Keep doing what you’re doing in marketing, but shift your thinking.  Don’t focus on how many (or few) website visitors that last Facebook contest netted. Instead look at how you built the trust of hundreds of loyal fans. If they are engaged in what you’re doing, you’re successfully building that trust. Keep it up, and those relationships will come to fruition.


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

18 Reactions
  1. You trust the people/companies that you know. Your social media efforts, blogging and PR should help people get to know you as much as they help people get to know your products & services. Be sincere and authentic. Let a little personality show through the corporate veneer.

  2. Exactly right, Robert. But think of all those companies you have a one-off experience with that you really could build trust with. It’s a huge revolution to get brands to try for trust. It’s not fast, and it’s not cheap!

  3. @Susan. I would agree that reaching out to bloggers can be important. But in terms of paying bloggers, doesn’t that potentially taint their coverage as being taited by a sponsor?

  4. The most authentic people to advocate for a business (local/small or otherwise) are actual customers. Social Influence Marketing will be the key to success for small/local businesses looking to enter the digital marketing world. Blogging and Facebook pages will have a clear and useful place; but they will definitely be only part of the big picture.

  5. @Carlos– Paying bloggers is more about paying them for their time and not setting limitations on what they can write about your brand. It’s a big debate, but I firmly believe they deserve to be compensated for their time.

    @Peter– Exactly. Putting it into the hands of the customers is scary but powerful.

  6. Susan I was retweeted your article and wanted to congratulate you on reaffirming the importance of delivering value through our marketing which builds trust and connection, rather than just promoting our products and services. When we have a bigger intention to genuinely provide value, this releases reciprocity and that’s when the magic of marketing with integrity really kicks in. Warm regards, David

  7. @David– Thanks so much! Look at this, we’re building trust here in the comments!

  8. Charles H. Green

    Nice article, Susan, thank you.

    I find the title somewhat ironic, which I think you intended. After all, what is the most trust-destroying thing someone can say? Trust me.

    What I think your title captures is that a successful marketer is not marketing trust–they are marketing their product or service in a manner such that people trust them.

    One way to think about all this in a systematic way is to use the Trust Equation, something my co-authors and I developed over 10 years ago in The Trusted Advisor. The trust equation is actually an equation for trustworthiness, and it is:

    T = (Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy) / Self-orientation

    The first three factors increase trustworthiness, while the denominator factor lowers it–considerably.

    We’ve found it to be a pretty good checklist for people looking to be more trustworthy, and therefore to be more trusted by their customers. Thanks again for a fine blogpost.

    Charles H. Green
    Trusted Advisor Associates

  9. Basis experience,very few people understand the difference in MARKETING and PROMOTION.

    MARKETING is creating urge or warming up the individual to buy your product and services. Whereas, PROMOTION is letting others know your emergence or existence.Trust all agree.

  10. I wrote a follow up Blog post yesterday regarding this topic. If you want to check it out:

  11. @Charles–Great formula. But rather than “marketing their product or service in a manner such that people trust them,” sometimes building that trust isn’t about marketing a product at all. It’s being there, where customers are. It’s about listening and participating.

    @Ako–I just wrote a post on my site about marketing vs. promotion:

    @Peter–Thanks! I commented on your post!

  12. Great post Susan, i really appreciate your writing. i guess, everybody has discussed how to increase traffic, how to exploit Social Media for your advantage, but everybody forgot writing about the ‘Trust’ factor.. really impressed!

  13. Thanks Jeffrey! I know, I read all the same articles chopped up and rewritten all the time. But really, we don’t deal with trust enough. Glad I got your wheels churning!

  14. Another great post Susan!

    Re: Paying bloggers…

    If you don’t yet have the budget to pay a guest blogger in cash, how can you make the trade worthwhile? Is exposure to your new and unique audience not a big enough draw? What else can you offer while in the development stages?



  15. @Mavreen–
    Even if you can offer $10 per blogger, it shows you take them seriously as professionals. If not, load them up with products. Not sure what you mean by exposure to YOUR audience (you’re the product? the blog?)?

  16. Nathan R Mitchell

    Very insightful post. I think a lot of time small business owners focus on the quantity and not the quality of their marketing efforts. In my opinion, if you are able to CONNECT with your potential customers, and not just reach or contact them, you have the opportunity to become a marketing genius.

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