As it appeared in ColoradoBiz Magazine
Every day, each of us is bombarded with marketing messages – from billboards, to online popup ads, to advertisements posted on the back of restroom stall doors – it feels like we are constantly being marketed to. What can we possibly believe to be true?
The messages pushed by many companies as well as independent professionals, is selling trust: “You can trust me!” “I have your back” and “You’re in safe hands with me/us.”
In developing strong and compelling brands, we focus on promoting that which is relevant and compelling to a target audience. While it is true that most target audiences need to trust the company/service/product/executive who is selling to them, you simply cannot sell trust. Telling someone you are trustworthy is simply not enough.
Here’s why: Telling someone to trust you is like saying you’re a good kisser – it really is up to others to assign you that value, not you. Trust is something you develop, over time, through respect, rapport and building credibility.
Selling trust is also not a differentiator. I recently spoke at a statewide convention of residential real estate professionals. To begin, I asked who in the room marketed themselves as “trustworthy, honest and hard working”? Every hand went up!
Don’t we expect our service providers, vendors, and businesses to be trustworthy? Marketing yourself as being trustworthy implies that your value comes from something we expect – similar to a medical doctor marketing himself as able to prescribe medication.
Build Credibility Instead of Selling Trust
Instead, focus on building credibility. Credibility is proof, reality and is trustworthy. Credibility is developed and sustained by following one simple formula:
Articulate your values + Act consistently with those values = Credibility
Articulate your values
You must articulate, consistently over time, your values: What do you hold dear? What do you believe? What is so important to you that you would fight for it?
Values are not trite marketing slogans – instead they are at the core and essence of you or your company. Your values and your beliefs drive you and the organization and are reflected in how you do business. They show up in the decisions you are most proud of, and the ones that led you to take the biggest risk. Your values are tied intricately to your identity. If separated from your values, you would not be you!
Act consistently with your values
The proof is in the pudding! While it is tempting to produce posters, coffee mugs and t-shirts promoting values, they are often just rallying props used to motivate teams and organizations around ideas and change.
Acting consistently with your values means you truly “walk the talk” in everything you do. You are willing to put your money where your heart is, and consistently act in ways that align with your beliefs.
For instance, if you believe in transparency, then you are open, approachable and forthcoming with customers, employees, and peers. If you value honesty, then you will tell the truth, not run from it. If you value hard work and dedication, then you roll up your sleeves, and pitch in. If you value collaboration, then I will know you as someone who brings others into the process, celebrates the success of others and supports the team.
Your credibility builds as you articulate your beliefs and values, and your target audience experiences you acting consistently with those values. Over time, through repetition and reinforcement, you become credible in the area you promote.
I work closely with professionals who have achieved tremendous success and pioneered innovative, disruptive thought and process. Often times, their commitment to their work comes directly from their values. They truly walk the talk in all they do. However, in the past they stayed under the radar, not made it clear WHY they do the work they do, and not been credited with the results of their efforts.
Start building your credibility today!
Think about your values and focus on the aspects of your work, life, beliefs and relationships that are important to you. What do they have in common? Do words like “honesty, community service, collaboration, mentoring and investing in the future” come to mind? Are these the values and behaviors that influence how you live your life?
Begin articulating and communicating your values in your work and your relationships. Vocalize and promote what makes you committed. Then, as you intentionally and consciously act consistent with those values, you build credibility, and no longer have to push a message of “trust” to an already overwhelmed audience.