In thinking about how my startup marketing business has grown over the past four years, one of the most important elements has been trust. It has been the best way that I’ve been able to get people say “Yes, I want to work with you”.
For startups, trust needs to rank as high as the value of their product. There are plenty of startups offering similar products so it is crucial to differentiate from the pack in some way – trust being one of them.
So how do startups make customers trust them so attract and retain business? What does it take to convince people to trust you’re committed to meeting their needs in a win-win way?
In many respects, it comes down to being transparent, honest and accessible. Consumers want to feel a connection with a business. It doesn’t have to be fawning loyalty but consumers have to feel something for your brand that they don’t for others.
Here are a few ways for startups to establish trust:
1. Be clear about what you do and how your product serves their needs. Startups that make it easy for consumers to quickly and easily grasp what they do and the key benefits can begin to establish a relationship on the right foot. By not being clear about what in it for the consumer your product, it’s difficult to get things headed in the right direction.
2. Be open about who is behind the curtain. Startups are created and operated by people, who sell products to people. A pet peeve is reading a startup’s “About” page that doesn’t tell me the people involved with the business. It makes me think “What are they trying to hide? How come there’s no information about the founders or management?”. If a customer is going to trust you, it helps if you’re not trying to be the Wizard of Oz. Instead, provide some information about you and your story.
3. Tell me where you live? Tell me where your business is located or, at the very least, a telephone number. A Website that only has a contact form is do much for building trust. There isn’t a lot to be said for being mysterious or stealth-like, especially if you’re asking people to pay for a product.
4. Make your pricing easy to understand. Be clear about how much someone gets for what price, particularly if you’re offering different types of services (e.g. bronze, silver, gold). Create an easy to understand graphic that spells how each tier is different, and why buying silver is better option for my needs, compared with bronze. And if you’re asking for a credit card before someone decides to make a purchase, make sure it’s for a really good reason.
5. If your product or service fails to perform, own up to it. Don’t try to blame it on another supplier, dismiss it as a minor issue or, worse, ignore it. If you screw up, admit it, apologize and make it right. It doesn’t mean giving away free service but you’ll earn a lot of trust by being honest.
6. Don’t ask for too much information. When kicking off a relationship, it can be strange when one side wants a lot of personal details. In time, I may disclose this information to make the relationship stronger but trying to get it out of me from the get-go is creepy.
At the end of the day, it is difficult to startups to stand out. If customers trust you, it can be a great way to keep them around for a long time and turn them into evangelists.