Customers Don’t Trust Brands, They Trust Themselves.

by Mack Collier

ForresterStudyThe above graph comes from a Forrester report How to Build Your Brand With Branded Content (I was given a complimentary copy for this post).  The graph ranks how likely customers are to trust different forms content.  Note that the Top Four types of content are partly or wholly created by customers, not the brand.  The fifth most-trustworthy form of content is information on company websites or blogs, and then less than a third of customers trust these sources.

This won’t be breaking news to any savvy marketers, who know that customers tend to trust other customers and recognized experts, and they tend to distrust brands.  Note that the least-trusted sources are ads at the bottom.

One of the reasons why I wanted to write Think Like a Rock Star was to help brands become better connected with their most passionate customers, because this makes their communications more credible to other customers.  When brands start connecting with their customers and listening to them, the way they connect with their customers changes.  They begin to speak in a new voice:  The voice of the customer.

For example, what if you started letting your customers write guest posts on your company blog?  Your brand, and the content it creates on its blog, instantly becomes more credible and trustworthy.  What if you started interacting with your customers on Twitter and Facebook?  Then you’d start to understand them (gasp!), and the content you create in the future would be different, based on the interactions you have with your customers.

Customers gravitate to communications that are spoken in a voice they recognize: Their own.  Here’s three ideas for incorporating the voice of your customers into your brand’s online communications:

1 – Embed product reviews on your website.  Ideally, on any product pages on your site.  This is a great way to make your brand more trustworthy, plus it helps you have easy access to feedback from your customers.  Plus, in actually increases sales because it helps customers manage expectations (which also leads to fewer returns).

2 – Provide a customer service forum for your customers.  Give your customers a place to seek help and information about your products and services.  Bonus points:  Enlist customers to help monitor the forum and help other customers.

3 – Let your customers guest post for your company blog.  If you encounter a customer that leaves a thoughful review about your product, maybe you should invite them to write a blog post talking more about your product and especially how they use it.  Let them talk about who they are, and HOW they use your product, moreso than the product itself.

The overarching point here is, when you become more connected to your customers and their point of view, it changes your brand’s communications, and makes them more credible and trustworthy to other cutomers.  Give it a try.

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