Trust Issues — a Guest Post by Jay Baer of Convince and Convert

jay baer guest post trust youtilityI’m delighted to welcome Jay Baer of Convince and Convert to the RedheadWriting Community. What follows IS some Useful Sh!t — the role trust plays in the ultimate success of your business.

In 2013, the “Edelman Trust Barometer” found businesses were trusted by 58 percent of survey respondents globally. This is up from 53 percent in 2012. Put in a somewhat more strident context, this means that for every ten of the potential customers you’re trying to reach with your messages, more than four don’t trust you.

Those odds aren’t great but there’s a way for you to reach more clients and potential customers.

Trust has a huge impact on marketing success.

This lack of trust in businesses has been an issue for at least a decade. In the United States, 44 percent trusted business in 2001, and 45 percent in 2012. In other major economies that have marketing mechanics similar to America’s, the data is even more frightening, with the United Kingdom, France, and Germany trusting businesses at a 32 percent rate in 2001, and 31 percent in 2012.

If half of your potential customers (at best) are distrustful of your business, that’s a problem. Because trust matters. A lot. Edelman finds that when a company is distrusted, 57 percent of people will believe negative information after hearing it just one or two times. Conversely, when companies are trusted, 51 percent of people believe positive information about the company after hearing it just one or two times.

“Trust has never been more important as a corporate asset, and it needs to be managed for people to believe the information you’re putting out,” says Amy Treanor, executive vice president of Edelman Square, the division of the firm responsible for the Trust Barometer. Companies of all sizes and types can and should take steps to buttress their trustworthiness, and in the most recent version of the research, Edelman published “The Six Building Blocks of Trust” to help clarify how trust can be built. They found that what might be considered the base elements of trust, such as financial performance and accountability, are merely table stakes in a much more nuanced game.

“To really be a trusted enterprise,” Treanor says, “you need to focus on the more societal and engagement activities: transparency, employee engagement, listening to your customers, and putting them ahead of profits.”

“Attributes that have risen in importance to build trust are more engaging, external-facing behaviors and policies that ultimately contribute to personal satisfaction (“treats employees well”), customer satisfaction (“listens to customer needs and feedback”) and the greater good (“has ethical business practices,”places customers ahead of profits” and “has transparent and open business practices.”

The sixteen attributes to building trust from Edelman’s summary fall into five categories: engagement, integrity, products and service, purpose, and operations. The most important of these attributes is engagement. Engagement is further broken down to these pieces:

  1. Listens to customer needs and feedback
  2. Treats employees well
  3. Places customers ahead of profits
  4. Communicates frequently and honestly on the state of its business

The good news is that you and your company can earn more trust with Youtility.

Youtility is marketing that is so useful, your customers would pay for it.

But they won’t have to pay for it. Using social media and digital content, you can reach your audience by being useful. Offering directions, instructions or just plain old answering questions for people helps them solve their immediate problem. Making your company useful without expectation of an immediate return is in direct opposition to the longstanding principles of successful marketing, and that’s a good thing.

Let’s look at the engagement piece and how you can boost these with social media and in your organization.

  1. Listen to customer needs and feedback: Listen on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ with tools such as Google Alerts and Respond to questions, offer suggestions and be a part of the social landscape.
  2. Treat employees well: Zappos has a fantastic approach with their employee program which translates to their stellar customer service and reaches each customer they have. From Tony Hseih, CEO and founder of Zappos, ““Zappos is really just about delivering happiness whether it’s the customers or employees.”
  3. Place customers ahead of profits: “Starbucks is focusing on great coffee and the experience in their stores. Their CEO has developed a game plan to continually enhance the Starbucks experience. Starbucks has put their customers before profits, which is the correct way to do business.
  4. 4. Communicate frequently and honestly on the state of its business: Dust off your company blog and get an editorial calendar set up. Plan your social media posts and tweets to coordinate with your blog articles and layer your communication.

Youtility is real-time relationship building. You’re either sufficiently useful at any given moment, and thus can connect with the customer, or you’re not. Companies that know how to do this connect with people, earn trust and ultimately have a relationship with their customers that will translate to trust and sales. Being a Youtility can move the dial on the trust barometer. Are you ready to start making some changes?

Excerpted from Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype by Jay Baer. See for other resources.

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jay baer convince and convert headshotJay Baer is a hype-free social media/content strategist and speaker, and author of Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype. Jay is the founder of Convince and Convert and host of the Social Pros podcast. He’s fun to follow on Twitter and if that’s not enough, hook up with Convince and Convert on Facebook.