Build Trust & Protect It
We all have different types of friends. There is the friend you have fun with, the friend who you go to for advice, and the friend you eat lunch with at work. These relationships can all be categorized by the level of trust you have for each. You may talk about trivial things with the friend you have fun with, less trust, and when you need serious guidance, you will reach out to the friend you go to for advice, more trust.
This same principle applies to almost everything that we see and interact with in the world. We are constantly taking in information and categorizing it based on our level of trust for the source. For an example, lets take a look at New York newspapers. The king of New York newspapers is the New York Times. The Times has been reporting the news for more than 100 years and is at the pinnacle of trusted news outlets. It will only print stories if there are multiple reputable sources. For the Times, getting it right is more important than getting it first. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the New York Post. The cover of the Post is regularly strewn with over-the-top headlines and it is filled with sensational tabloid stories. It is famous for its gossip column and the content is more entertainment than education.
The New York Times is the friend you reach out to for serious advice, more trust, the New York Post is the friend you have fun with, less trust.
The continuum of trust is directly related to value. When trust for a brand is high, we are willing to pay more or make purchases with less consideration. For instance, Mercedes starts convincing you of the superiority of their automobiles when you are young. The intent is to build your trust in the brand so one-day when you have means, you will purchase a Mercedes. Its crazy to think, but the sales cycle of a Mercedes actually starts thirty or forty years before you make a purchase; we buy promises not products. When trust exists you do not have to manipulate customer behavior with discounts or sales, you only have to effectively and consistently communicate your story. Trust is a long-term play.
The same theory applies to individuals. Your name and reputation make up your brand. Your co-workers, friends, and even family value you similarly to how they value a product. While it may sound callous it is true. We are more willing to date or marry someone if we trust her. We are more likely to hire someone and pay her a higher salary, if we trust her. I would even venture to say that when investing in someone’s business idea, how much we trust her is more important than whether we believe in the idea.
Being considered trustworthy may be the single most important factor toward achieving your goals in the modern paradigm. Ironically though how we decide if someone is trustworthy has barely changed since the beginning of time. We make these decisions almost entirely based on our instincts and emotions. What do they look like? What do they sound like? What is their reputation? We may not want to, but we judge people and things by how they make us feel. It is what we are used to doing and what we have time for in today’s society. Therefore the quickest way to build trust is to understand your audience and package your message in a way that makes them feel comfortable and connected.
Once you have won the trust of your audience protect it, because if that bond is broken, it is nearly impossible to fix.