Know. Like. Trust.
You’ve heard it before, right?
People buy from people they know, like, and trust.
How do you get known?
How do you get people to like you?
How do you earn their trust?
Those are Big Questions with long, complicated answers.
… or, are they?
I may be an audience of one, but I know I’m not alone in how I assess the people and brands I buy from. It’s not really all that complicated:
I get to know people by:
- Reading their blogs
- Sampling their social content – everything from Facebook and Twitter to Pinterest and Instagram to LinkedIn and Google+
- Interacting with them on their blogs and social media (and, eventually via email, call, or video chat)
- Checking out their body of work (products, cases studies, portfolio … whatever applies)
- Looking at their associations with other people I know
I decide if I like them by asking myself:
- Do their values align with mine?
- Are they responsive when I reach out?
- Are they generous with their time and knowledge?
- Do they have a good sense of humor?
- Do we have anything in common – hobbies, causes, pet peeves, lifestyle, etc.?
I decide if I can trust them based on:
- Whether their actions are consistent with their words
- How I see them treat other people
- How other people talk about them
The bottom line is this: it all comes down to the old, writers’ adage: “Show. Don’t tell.”
You cannot tell people about yourself – they need to learn who you are by your actions. They need to form their own picture of you based on what you show, not what you say. If you say, “I’m an organic food guru” I may or may not believe you, but if you show me your incredible depth of knowledge and heartfelt passion through the information you share (blog posts, photos, curated articles, answering questions, etc.), I believe you immediately. I can see for myself that you are, in fact, an organic food guru. Each piece of content you create and share online is another piece of the puzzle that shows me who you are, what you do, what you care about, and so on.
You cannot make people like you – you can only put your best foot forward. You are not in control of how people judge you. (And, they will judge you.) Good rule of thumb: remember The Golden Rule. Think about the people you like. What traits make them likeable? Usually it’s not about them, it’s about how they make other people feel. It’s about how they listen, understand, and help. It’s about how they affect positive change for others – solving problems, providing answers, sharing insights, connecting people.
You cannot force people to trust you – trust must be earned. I may know you and like you, but do I trust you? Trust takes a relationship to a whole other level. Now it’s serious. Trust boils down to whether or not you consistently deliver what you promise. At a low level, this could be as simple as providing dependable content that always lives up to the hype. It might mean writing a story that exceeds expectations. Again, this is about actions, not words. Promises are worthless until they have been tested and kept.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to human relationships. The writer/reader relationship cannot be developed with a paint-by-numbers approach. There is no secret, failsafe formula you can follow to build a loyal audience. If you want to get people to know you, like you, and trust you, you’re going to have to do it the old-fashioned way. But, that’s only as it should be.
So, the next time you’re thinking about how to grow your audience and nurture reader relationships, ask yourself these questions:
How do you help people learn about who you are?
How do you put your best foot forward?
What do you do to merit trust?
Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content marketer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian and aerial arts (not at the same time), and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Join me each Saturday for the Weekend Edition (a fun post and great community of commenters on the writing life, random musings, writing tips, and good reads), or introduce yourself on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.
This post was adapted from a piece originally published on SuddenlyMarketing.com.