By Susan Payton
Having a Facebook Page will not bring instant sales.
Twitter will not triple your Web traffic overnight.
A press release will not get journalists banging down your door.
Harsh truths, I know, but ones you need to hear. The problem with small businesses and marketing is they want instant pudding. They want to see a spike in sales or Web traffic instantly, and that simply doesn’t happen unless you’re Old Spice. Freshly showered men aside, all your marketing efforts should lead to one thing: trust.
Why Trust Is Important
Is trust necessary? Not really. You could sell a thousand widgets to a thousand people and never see them again. Or you could work to build trust with these customers, and rely on them to become your brand evangelists, to let them tell others how great you are because you’re a trustworthy company. Let them blog, tweet and share their love on Facebook.
Trust keeps customers coming back. If what you sell costs a lot of money, it gives them the confidence to drop the $100, $1,000 or $10,000 on your product.
How to Build Trust
Every component of marketing is about trust-building, if done properly.
- Social Media. Face it: You probably haven’t bought much from brands on Twitter just because they’re there. If a brand you’re following is having a promotion, you might click the link and buy. But that’s promotion. Not marketing. So your role in social media is to use it as a channel to build trust. Create conversations, whether they’re related to your industry or not. Share relevant links, even if they’re not from your own blog. Interact. Give people a reason to seek your brand out on Facebook or Twitter. A great example of a brand that does this is Mabel’s Labels. Under @mabelhood, the brand shares bloggers’ links and rallies behind its supportive followers. They’ve created a community that translates into trust, and then into sales.
- Press Releases. Sometimes trust is just about being there consistently. Putting out a press release each month can go a long way to say, “Hey! We’re still here doing awesome things.” And while journalists may not be clamoring to publish your news, searching for keywords that lead them to one press release after another from your brand certainly shows that you’re consistent. And consistency is one of the cornerstones of a healthy relationship, is it not?
- Blogger Relations. If you’re smart enough to be working with bloggers to spread the word about your products, kudos. But how you work with them can have just as much impact on your brand as what they think of the product. First off, pay your bloggers. Their time is as valuable as yours. But be there for them too. Make sure they know you’re partners in the blogger outreach campaign you’re working on, and make sure to address any questions or concerns they have before they post. If you build that trust, they’ll go beyond the call of duty for the campaign and talk about your brand on all the social channels, resulting in bonus play for you.
Where to Go From Here
If I’ve put you into a tailspin, don’t worry. Keep doing what you’re doing in marketing, but shift your thinking. Don’t focus on how many (or few) website visitors that last Facebook contest netted. Instead look at how you built the trust of hundreds of loyal fans. If they are engaged in what you’re doing, you’re successfully building that trust. Keep it up, and those relationships will come to fruition.
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