We’ve all instinctively learned (or rather, learned mostly through bitter experience) that the people who most often ask us to trust them are the persons least trustworthy. We’re bombarded on a daily basis with advertising that promises us happiness, success, and levels of customer care that frankly we will never receive.
So, it should come as no surprise at all that when you put together your own sales and marketing messaging, people are more than a little sceptical of anything and everything you say.
I’ve seen it so many times across the decades, where a client’s marketers spend weeks and days, fine-tuning and honing their copy to be perfectly on-point, addressing all the right pain-points … except one. The one where the readers don’t yet believe anything you say.
You can’t promise your way out of it, because they don’t yet believe your promises.
The harder you try to convince, the more you start to sound like that guy who says “Trust me” because he already knows that nobody in their right mind ever should.
This is the essential messaging dilemma that most agencies would rather not discuss. They simply create messages with ever bigger carrots to entice someone to ‘give it a try’. Then they’ll recommend some of the right things, like providing ‘social proof’ of reviews and testimonials, or putting your message out through sources you can ‘borrow’ (or more accurately, rent) the existing reputation of. But all without ever really talking about that elephant in the room.
I’ve always preferred a different tactic. “Show, don’t tell”. Don’t tell someone who doesn’t trust you that they should or can trust you. Show them.
Certainly having ‘social proof’ helps – showing people that even if they don’t know you and your company, they do know some of the people you deal with, and that recommend you. Being lent credibility by citations, or even just advertising, on platforms they already trust somewhat will also help.
But you honestly need to go further.
Cut back on trying to sell them, and instead focus on building a genuine, honest relationship. Level with them about the things your product or service is not so good at. Did I really just say to be open about what your product isn’t good for? Of course. Because we measure things by looking for their borders. The only way people can properly ‘feel’ how broad the area of things you are good at, or great at, is to let them find those borders. Where your awesomeness ends is what defines how big and broad your area of awesomeness is.
Show empathy and understanding for their position, as a customer, and hopefully user of your product or service. Be real with them. Show them that you really do have their interests in mind, and that you really do want to build a long-term relationship. Show them that you’d rather they bought the small product or service and were happy enough to refer 6 others, than push them into buying the big product that isn’t as efficient for them.
Better yet, honestly feel that you’d rather they didn’t buy from you at all, because your product wasn’t quite the right fit for them, but instead understand it so well that they refer 3 perfect customers for your product instead. This genuinely happens when people fully understand your product in its truth, and respect your integrity and honesty.
Doing the “Show, Don’t Tell” approach takes thoughtfulness and consistency, a carefully thought out awareness of how you are perceived. As did the carefully crafted sales pitch they were unconvinced and unmoved by. At least this time you are putting that thought and consistency into something that is in line with your market.
Having open engagement with feedback, be that via a support forum, or through social media helps to show that you aren’t hiding anything. Showing that you really do understand your customer, and have empathy with them, via content you create in all your marketing collateral helps reassure that someone who understands them so well, and builds a relationship, isn’t doing so for one fly-by-night sale.
Any of these steps alone can have a small difference, but in combination, used as a joined-up and consistent message they see in every format and way they check, the difference is immense.
Ultimately, it comes down to this: There’s no call to action in this post. No “sign up here”, or “buy this”. Because if you understand the messaging, and that it illustrates our ability to handle yours, you know how to get in touch. Show your own potential customers the same respect for their intelligence.