Lessons in Trust

by Jul 28, 2016Branding

Lessons in Trust

by | Jul 28, 2016

YZ39UP63MIA few years ago, I was an inexperienced co-owner of a small video game bar in Tempe. Early on, we allowed an online community to utilize our space for events free-of-charge. We wanted to give something back to the communities we had participated in, as well as spread the word about our business.

The response wasn’t as positive as we would have liked. One scathing review on Google really sticks with me.

“Events hosted there had marketing companies posted out front with large tables of marketing material to push on unsuspecting party-goers.”

This comment was referring to a prom-themed event at which we had allowed a few individuals to sell corsages and other relevant goods at our front doors. For us, it was about community. We weren’t making a profit on these sales. We weren’t charging a venue fee to the group. There was no cover charge to enter our doors.

That being said, many members of the community didn’t trust us. Things that we were offering seemed “too good to be true.” In the eye of a skeptic, we must have been trying to trick people.

Why would people assume that?

We never took the time to build community relationships. We never knew we had to! If you’re doing good in the world, won’t people just believe you?


So, we learned some lessons in establishing trust for our customer base. Try to remember how people think of businesses. Everybody knows that, on some level, your business exists to make money. People probably won’t consider the people behind the business, so help your customers understand you.

Be Transparent

This should go without saying, but be up-front and transparent if you’re looking to build trust. Communicate clearly. Don’t surprise your customers with hidden costs. Have a business model that makes sense and that people can understand. You don’t want customers questioning whether or not you’re manipulating them.

Don’t Use Forced Advertising

The best advertisements are the ones that seem natural. You won’t benefit from forcing people to pay attention to you when they’re not interested. Facebook is a great example of the kind of advertising that seems natural: promoted posts are in the same format as the rest of the content. Leave information available to people who may actually benefit from your product or service in a way that’s helpful or subtle. There’s no need to scream for attention if you’re providing a good thing.

Make Your Values Clear, and Stick to Them

Determine your core values, and hold to them in everything you do. This shows that you’re consistent, and your customers will learn what to expect of you. Your core values will also help you make difficult business decisions!

If you haven’t already defined your company values, don’t worry. You probably already have them and don’t realize it yet. Here are some tips to help you out.

Choose the Right Customer Base

The right answer isn’t always “Get more customers!” You need your customers to value the same things as you do, and to love your company. Loyal customers have a high level of trust for their favorite companies. That’s what you need. Tuft & Needle gives us a great look at what this means. This company saw huge growth in its customer base; however, it was clear that customers attracted by the referral program were not customers who loved the brand. Eventually, the company made the difficult decision to drop the program because it violated its values and didn’t attract loyal customers.

Do your customers trust you? At the end of the day, your company is made up of real people. And your company serves real people. Communicate not only with your customers but also with your employees. Help people learn to trust and understand you.

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