Brands, You Have to Build Your ‘Trust’ Muscle

by Mack Collier

Steve Jobs was probably the greatest business orator and speaker of the last 50 years.  Jobs had a wonderful talent for delivering amazing presentations and captivating an audience.

With that in mind, watch this short video of Jobs prepping for his first on-air appearance in 1978:

Isn’t it interesting to watch a fidgety and obviously very nervous Jobs say “You need to tell me where the restroom is too, because I’m deathly ill, actually, and ready to throw up at any moment.”  Then he adds to someone off camera “I’m not joking!”

Yet 40 years later in 2007, he was delivering the presentation to launch the iPhone, considered to be one of the greatest business presentations of all-time.

Experience is a wonderful teacher, and it molded Jobs from that fidgety computer geek in 1978 to a polished professional that became the gold standard for delivering compelling business presentations.

Today, we’re asking brands to do something equally scary on a scale they’ve never had to before: We are asking brands to trust their most passionate customers.

One of the things that struck me the most while writing Think Like a Rock Star was to delve into the differences between how rock stars approach engaging with their customers versus how brands do.  While many brands are reluctant to connect directly with their customers and give them any control over messaging or promotion, rock stars literally view their customers as marketing partners that they trust to act in the rock stars’ best interest.

This graphic explains why:

InteractionsInteraction leads to Understanding which leads to Trust which leads to Advocacy.  Rock stars are constantly seeking interaction with their fans, because they not only want to better understand their fans, they want their fans to better understand them.  Because rock stars know that when their fans understand them, they can then trust them, and advocate for them.  Also, since rock stars understand and trust their fans, they know that these fans will act in the rock star’s best interests.

Most brands never start on this path because they don’t seek to have those interactions with their customers that are freely available thanks in great part to the rise of social media tools.  If brands would interact more with their fans they would begin to understand them more, which leads to trust, which leads to advocacy.

Which is also a two-way street.  When your brand purposely shuts itself off from your customers, you are also restricting the customers’ ability to interact with you, and then to trust you as well as deadening the chances of having that customer advocate for your brand.

And here’s why it’s an unfounded fear:  Because when you interact with your customers and they understand you they also trust you.  So not only will they advocate for you, they will also spread your message and trust you to spread the message that you give them.  This is what so many brands misunderstand about their fans, they believe their fans will spread a message that’s inconsistent with their ‘messaging’.  Instead, fans will want to work with your brand to make sure they are spreading the message that you want them to.

But it starts with your brand taking the first step to reach out to your customers and trusting them if you want them to trust you.

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