What is trust and how is it achieved? This is a difficult question — more difficult than it appears.
Trust is arguably central to the acquisition and certainly the retention of small business (SMB) advertisers. And tonight at the LSA’s Think Tank networking event in Dallas we tried to confront the question of trust directly but in a very tactical way.
I introduced the topic by citing an interesting and very recent piece of UK SMB research from Bing and agency Latitude White, presented at the SIINDA conference in Prague a week ago. The study polled 311 SMBs of different sizes and industries about a range of digital marketing issues.
Source: Latitude White-Bing (2015)
The survey found that “only one in five SMEs (18%) … trust SEO and PPC agencies.” In other words less than 20% of business owners trusted their marketing services providers and 82% didn’t. The numbers are directionally similar in the US market.
This stands in marked contrast to the value that SMBs in the UK placed on SEO as the top digital marketing method after email.
At Think Tank tonight we asked attendees (between glasses of wine) how one instills confidence and trust in SMB buyers of marketing services, especially against the backdrop of a noisy marketplace and many similar, competing solutions. The following are what some of the attendees said about how to gain or regain the trust of business owners (not in any specific order):
- Face to face sales contacts (premise sales)
- Verticalization of sales to “speak the language of the customer”
- Knowing the customer’s business and particular digital marketing needs
- Trying to genuinely understand the customer and her challenges
- Being able to listen to the business and not just sell
- Demonstrating competent knowledge of the products being sold
- Being able to connect to the customer through a shared local institution or third party relationship
- Being “authentic” with the SMB
- Being able to show how this product/solution helped a business in the same industry or similar situation (e.g., testimonials or related case studies)
- Setting reasonable and clear expectations and following through with fulfillment
- Storytelling that allowed the business owner to identify with the sales rep
- Maintaining a positive company online reputation
While this list is not exhaustive it’s pretty complete. Do you agree with it? Do you disagree?
It’s interesting that so many people at the Think Tank event emphasized the value of premise sales reps and 1 to 1 selling, at a time when many media companies are trying to reduce costs and can’t afford outside reps.
At one point in the evening a ReachLocal attendee made a very interesting statement: “Getting the meeting is much harder than getting the close.” Do you agree?
Do you see any additional tactics or obvious holes not identified in the list above?