The general public is increasingly cynical in its view of marketing efforts and advertising in particular. The openness that used to exist has been eaten away by decades of asterisks*, bait and switch techniques, and outright misleading advertising.
Yet we still have a willingness to trust.....
Once we have made up our mind we are willing to trust the first term Presidential candidate although he/she has never had any real experience in running the world.
We are willing to trust the health insurer based on their brand/reputation/referrals etcetera.
And we are willing to trust the real estate salesman under certain circumstances. (Yes, even the used car guy sometimes..)
But getting people to the willingness to trust stage is no where near as easy as it used to be.
Your goal is to shorten the gap between acknowledgement, the time when they will answer your call / email / letter, through to the time where they are willing to trust you with the issues of their company.
Marketing materials, web presence and display ads go a long way to helping this. But your goal is to get to be beyond a household name, your goal is to become recognised as a brand that others will trust. And the more credibility those who trust you have, the easier it will be.
For example, if you have a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile from (say) an EVP at Wells Fargo bank then the gap is going to be partially closed. Why? Because other buyers will be at the same level as she (the EVP) is, and they may even know her personally.
So if she trusts you, they are more likely to give you a go.
Testimonials are as good as recommendations, in fact I worked with a PR specialist for the only reason that he was recommended by Alan Weiss.
Closing the gap from acknowledgement to the willingness o trust can be seen in three grades:
Grade A - solicited or (preferably) unsolicited referrals from one client to a decision making prospect. Peers will not put their reputation or their relationship on the line or at risk.
Grade B - Testimonials, recommendations on LinkedIn, mentions in articles, papers and conference speeches and so on. This often also includes referrals from news sources such as radio, TV and blogs.
Grade C - Referrals based on your own blog, newsletters, articles published, papers published and a range of other unique and insightful information you have pushed into the market place. This also includes the standard marketing materials like brochures and so on.
There is a willingness to trust, and efforts such as the above can help you to dramatically reduce the gap between their acknowledgement of you as a service provider, and their willingness to trust you with issues of their company.
Once you can prove that you have both scarcity and value, then they move closer to trusting you as a service provider they could rely on.
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