So, you’ve have had a customer make a purchase or sign up for a service that your brand offers. That is certainly a win, but now what? What’s next? How do you take a single customer and transition them into a loyal advocate that trusts your brand and will return again and again as well as actively market for your products or services to those around them? Here are 10 proven ways to build brand trust that will last.
1. Provide Valuable Content
The phrases and colloquialisms in the world of marketing and building your brand are continually evolving. Yet, there is one that has managed to hold firm as a pillar for several decades: “Content is King.” Whether you are looking at the content on your company website, social media platforms, marketing campaigns, advertisements, blogs, or elsewhere, providing high-quality, valuable content will position your business as a strong brand and a thought leader in your industry.
2. Be Consistently Accessible with Real People
Customers and prospective clientele often have questions that they deem a “make or break,” when it comes to whether or not they will purchase your product or use your service. If they have no outlet to ask their question or they don’t receive an answer from you in what they deem as a timely fashion, two things will happen:
- They will go to a competitor they will answer their questions in a timely fashion
- You and your company will lose credibility in their eyes
You should have an established customer-support team and infrastructure that outlines how you will handle incoming questions. Depending on your business, you can utilize one of the many top-performing chat apps directly onto your website. There are many options, including chat apps that can be directed to a team or team member’s email, depending on your business size, or you can choose to go with live chat functionality.
You can also simply go with a customer service email and phone number directly on the “contact” or “help” tab of your website. However, someone or a team must be designated to answer inquiries if you choose to go this route. Today’s clientele expects near-immediacy and there is no better way to lose a prospective customer than to respond in a manner the potential customer deems as too slow.
3. Spark Up a Two-Way Conversation with Customers and Potential Customers
Today’s consumer likes to feel like they have some level of relationship with a brand that goes beyond making a purchase. This is even more true for companies that offer an ongoing service such as gyms, subscription-delivery businesses, grocery stores, fashion brands, and more. Finding unique ways to make the customer feel special by opening a door for two-way communication will help “customers” transition into “brand advocates.” While the prior is a customer that will ultimately contribute to your company’s bottom line, the latter will provide free word-of-mouth marketing for you and attract others in their social circles and networks to your business.
4. Encourage and Share User-Generated Content
Sharing user-generated content on your owned properties (website, social media, blog, etc.) and outside properties (review sites, second-party listings, etc.) is a fantastic way to show that real people are enjoying your products or appreciating your services. This is a great way to build some instant brand trust in the digital space.
A great way to leverage user-generated content even further is to partner with influencers that enjoy your product and have them advocate for you. Brands like Adobe Photoshop, Coca-Cola, Netflix, Airbnb, and Starbucks are all great at user-generated content campaigns. Think of Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign.
User-generated content speaks louder to consumers than a company promoting its own product does.
5. Keep Brand Consistency as a Top Focus
There’s nothing like a scattered brand message or simply going off-message to wreck a brand’s credibility. Whether it’s your message and tone, or your logo and brand style, the phrase “consistency is key” has been around for decades for a reason. Here are a few top-tier items to think about when it comes to maintaining brand consistency:
- Brand Message: An extension of your brand vision in terms of how that vision is communicated through a variety of channels.
- Brand Voice: How your brand message is communicated. What tone will you use? Is your brand charming and benefit-centric, similar to how a monthly beauty box subscription service might present itself? Is your brand serious and focused on ending consumer pain points, similar to how a company in the healthcare sector might present itself? A consistent brand voice is essential.
- Design: Consistent use of your logo, colors, design style, print materials, business cards, digital and social marketing efforts, and website style is a simple way that streamlining can build consumer trust for your brand.
- Delivery: Consistent communication with your audience through consistent channels builds trust and helps your ideal customer know what to expect from you and when therefore creating a more positive experience.
This is where the development of brand guidelines becomes important. Brand guidelines should align closely with a company’s vision for how it would like to be perceived across all channels and be utilized in all marketing and social media efforts.
6. Surprise and Delight Customers
So you’ve gained a new customer or an interested person, now what? Odds are that the new customer you’ve gained has your product or service quite low on the scale of what matters to them on a day-to-day basis. This is where the Surprise and Delight factor comes in!
Surprise and Delight is a marketing strategy that attracts new customers and nurtures the relationship you have with established customers by providing unexpected surprises and rewards with no strings attached. Granted, this doesn’t mean taking note from a certain famous pizza place’s Kids’ Night campaign that “surprised” children by sending a fully-costumed clown to their table to take a Polaroid that was then posted on the wall for all to see.
Today’s “surprise and delight” campaigns are all about getting creative and showing customers you truly value them. Things like a rewards program, sending out a holiday gift or gift card, sharing user-generated social media content on your company social media platform and tagging that user, establishing a loyalty rewards program, or simply providing them with some percentage discount on their next order or month of services as a thank you are simple ways to seriously wow your customers and create a lifelong advocate of your brand.
Sure, surprise and delight campaigns generally always have some type of cost attached, even if it is just a time cost of someone putting together holiday cards for customers. However, surprise and delight campaigns turn customers into serious brand advocates, which are worth their weight in gold!
Consider Taco Bell’s incredible response to a prank that had the remote town of Bethel, Alaska (6,000 residents) believing they were finally getting a Taco Bell. While Taco Bell wasn’t affiliated in any way with the prank, they realized the closest Taco Bell to Bethel was over 4 hours away, and the prank left everyone sad that they wouldn’t be able to “live mas” in their hometown after all. So Taco Bell pulled one of the most talked-about surprise and delight campaigns of the year by airlifting a food truck filled with 10,000 Taco Bell tacos into Bethel to treat the entire town to free tacos! Needless to say, not only did they receive massive PR, but they’ve made some loyal taco-lovers and brand advocates for life!
7. Put Out a Consistent, Reliable Product or Service
No matter how great your website is, how strong your marketing is, or even how great of customer testimonials you’ve gathered, your actual products or services need to be the following four things:
Customers typically buy as a result of emotion, with logic factoring in when it comes to re-purchasing or continuing use of a service. These four things are crucial for a customer to justify making their initial purchase and to continue to remain a customer.
8. Encourage User and Product Reviews and Share Them With Others
As mentioned above, it should go without saying that you must invest in having a high-quality, reliable product. When your product arrives on a new customer’s doorstep or they pick it up at the store, you should seek to leave your customer very impressed with your product. A simple way to ensure this is to put any product through rigorous testing and to put any service through a “secret shopper” or a focus group of sorts to analyze the service offered and all other aspects of the customer-facing elements of your business.
9. Utilize Social Media Platforms That Make Sense for Your Business
Many companies overlook the value of social media in developing their brand simply because the younger generations aren’t their target demographic. However, when you consider social media, really think about your mediums. Sure, if you are marketing to the 55+ demographic, Snapchat and Tik Tok won’t be your target marketing mediums, but take a hard look at who is most actively utilizing Facebook these days. It’s becoming more and more scarce of the 25 and under demographic and the 55+ demographic has skyrocketed.
10. Be Transparent and Honest
The digital era has made today’s consumers savvier than ever. They do their research before making a purchase, they know your competitors, and they’ve delved into reviews from past customers of your business. If a customer comes to you and your product or service offering truly isn’t a good fit, being completely transparent and honest will ultimately earn you that person’s respect and open the door for referrals or for them to re-visit your business down the line.
Business transparency shows that you genuinely care about the needs of your customers. It also positions your product in a brighter light. By showing a customer that your product or offering has enough value that you aren’t afraid to guide a customer in a direction more beneficial to them, you massively amplify the worth of your offering in that person’s eyes, which will ultimately spread to some degree through their social circle. Earning the respect of one person by being transparent can garner you the ultimate respect of any number of potential customers in the network of people they may come into contact with.