Think of the last 10–20 brands you bought from (i.e. For me: Hipmunk, Buffer, Yoga membership, etc.). Chances are each of them were referred to you by a friend or colleague.
In some cases, you may have already been aware of these brands.In other cases, you may have never heard about them before.But awareness and trust are two different things.
Awareness just means that a consumer knows you exist.It doesn’t mean they’ll buy from you or recommend you to their friends. They may not even know what your company does.
Trust is something totally different. In fact, if you have an online business, trust is everything. It means they’re willing to put their hard-earned money, that they could have used anywhere else, in the hands of your brand.
It means they’re willing to risk their reputation to recommend your brand to the people they love and to the people that trust them.
When you build trust, you build a referral machine.
Trust as your Growth Strategy
Going from awareness to trust is hard. Most companies never make it.
Why is that? For one, most companies don’t focus on building trust.The growth strategy for a typical company is:
- Facebook Ads
- Google Adwords
- The occasional blog post
Now, there’s nothing wrong with this growth strategy, and they can become quite powerful at scale. But trust must come first, not the other way around.
The reason why trust is so powerful is not only because it’s the difference between whether they become a loyal customer or not, but because it accelerates the path to trust to people they refer.
The best way to build trust is to put up a mirror in front of your brand, and allow others to see their own reflection in you.
Storytelling is one of the most effective ways to build trust, because stories are designed to connect us in one way or another. A good story will allow someone to feel like they’re part of the story itself.
Sharing great stories have been in the DNA of some of my favorite companies like Buffer, Moz, and Zappos. Non of these companies are selling revolutionary products that no one else can build. It’s software and shoes. Yet, they’ve built a following of millions because building trust is their core focus, which then leads to awareness.
Discovering your own path to trust
There are many ways to build trust with your potential customers.
The most popular form is content marketing, which companies like Buffer, Hubspot, and Groove are great examples of. While blogging kills two birds with one stone (if done right) — raising awareness and trust — you can only build a certain level of trust from one post.
At Rype, depth is the main thing we care about. And we prioritize asking visitors for emails upfront. This goes for our blog and also our landing page.
Here are some great incentives to offer that are simple to deliver:
- free webinar
- free training video series
- free guide(s)
- free coupon
- free Ebook
When you’ve collected their emails, now the relationship building starts.
A lot of businesses here do one of two things:
- Go for the kiss before the dinner ends
- Or never call the person back
Let me explain.
Some businesses try to sell way too early in the funnel (I’m talking within the first day), and scare off the potential customer that would have bought after 2 weeks. Whereas other businesses, don’t have an email marketing funnel set up to even follow-up when they have the lead.
Every business will have a different funnel, depending on their target market, the price point of their product/service, etc.
For example, Ramit Sethi from iwillteachyoutoberich.com, has built a multi-million dollar business selling high-end digital products (~$2,000). Here’s his email sequence for one of his most popular product launches.
Ramit recommends that whatever funnel you decide to create for your business, 80% of your content should deliver amazing value, and only 20% of your content should be selling your product/service.
At Rype, we try to build a relationship by starting a conversation with the potential customer from day one. Here’s the email we send:
This follow-up email that we send gets an 18% reply rate (feel free to use it for your own business)
It does take a good portion of our time responding to each of these emails, but the advantages of being a startup is that we can delight our prospects at a level that no established company can.
As Paul Graham says, it's doing the unscalable.
The point of this article was not to downplay awareness, but to raise the importance of going deeper to delight everyone that comes across your business, not just customers.
Most people won’t be your customers. But they are one-click away from referring you the next raving customer. All you have to do is delight them.
Over to you
What do you think about trust and delight as your growth strategy?