Great marketing builds trust and awareness

branding marketing sales traffic Jan 18, 2023

Early in my entrepreneurial journey, as I was trying to learn what it takes to effectively build an online business, I would read books, watch videos, and listen to podcasts to glean ideas and learn strategies that would help me build, grow, and monetize my online platform. Much of the information was helpful, but some forms of advice were easier for me to receive than others.

One piece of advice I would often hear encouraged me to develop some sort of marketing plan. I heard this over and over, but to be honest, I didn't actually believe it was necessary. And if I'm really honest, I simply didn't want to do it. At the time, I equated marketing with selling, and I was a little worried about coming across like a salesman, so marketing didn't rise to the level where I felt compelled to take action on it.

At the time, I had a philosophy that many of us probably share. It's a philosophy that's partially true, that's why so many of us tend to adopt it. I believed that if I focused my time and energy on creating good content, my marketing would take care of itself. So, I wrote the best books I could write, recorded the best podcasts I could record, and created the best videos I knew how to make. Thankfully, that did help me attract some initial followers and customers, but the process was somewhat slow.

Today, there's an ad running on one of my podcasts. Why do you suppose that advertiser was willing to pay for that exposure? That company is convinced there's value in being introduced to a new audience. They've been in business long enough to know that marketing their product in the right way will help them build their business.

It took me a long time to learn that lesson, but now I'm convinced it's true. Advertising can be a great form of marketing when it's done well, but there are other ways to market that don't necessarily fit into a traditional advertising metric. Let me give you two examples of effective marketing that both happened right in front of me at the same exact time.

Recently, I made the decision to join a new gym. I've had other gym memberships, but this gym is nicer than any of them. It's so nice, and offers so many amenities, that I questioned whether or not I was actually a good fit to join. But to satisfy my curiosity, I scheduled a tour of the facility.

For starters, how did I hear about this gym? I started paying attention to it because I kept hearing good things about how they were trying to serve our community over the past few years. That caused me to think of them as generous and others-centered, and their generosity created a feeling of goodwill within me. That's how this particular gym got on my radar.

When I messaged them to schedule a tour of their facilities, they were very receptive and got back to me immediately. I made an appointment to visit and was greeted warmly when I arrived. Carol, the woman who gave me the guided tour, asked genuine questions about my fitness goals. She also took time to learn more about my family, and she surprised me by doing a great job of remembering names.

As I toured the facility, she answered all my questions without making me feel foolish. She never talked down to me. She also stressed certain commonalities that we shared with the season of life our children are at, and the unique challenges parents of college students face. By the end of the tour, I was convinced that joining the gym was a good idea. Carol had earned my trust, and it was clear that the people working out there enjoyed the amenities and culture of the gym.

While Carol was gaining my trust, I was also gaining her trust. That became particularly evident when I was in the office signing up for a membership. She asked me what my children were studying at present, and when I told her, I also happened to mention that one of my children has become quite adept at woodworking. She was curious, so I showed her some pictures of the crown molding and wainscoting I recently paid him to do around my home. She was floored at how beautiful it looked, and almost immediately offered to hire him to do work at her home.

Do you see what took place here? The gym earned my trust by serving our community. Carol earned my trust by being genuinely interested in my family and answering my questions without making me feel foolish. And I earned Carol's trust in the way I responded to her questions and with the pictures I showed her of my son's work. In the end, the gym got a new member and my son got a new client.

In my opinion, this is how good marketing works. It's not about being loud and over the top. It's not even about making sales pitches. It's about building trust and offering helpful solutions that make the lives of others better. Your job isn't to become a salesman. It's to earn the trust of the people you serve, then overdeliver on the quality you provide them. This should be the philosophy behind whatever you write, record, or sell.

If you agree with my premise that great marketing is really just building trust with those you're trying to serve, how can you do that? What approaches might you be able to take that can facilitate a culture of trust between you and your potential clients?

1. Serve from a place of generosity, not a place of desperation. If you're desperate to make sales, people will sniff that out immediately. You'll come across as desperate or aggressive. That's not a good look, and it leads to mutual frustration instead of mutual benefit. But if you demonstrate a generous spirit and a desire to be genuinely helpful, people will sniff that out about you as well. They may not become your client immediately, but I'm convinced many of them will become your clients eventually and they will likely tell others about you, much like I just told you about Carol at the gym.

2. Stay focused on their needs and their story. I realize that to some degree, we all like to talk about our own needs and our own story, and there's certainly a place for that, but when you're attempting to build trust, you want to stay focused on the needs of those you're trying to serve. Offer them suggestions and solutions. Share some of your best ideas without requiring any sort of payment while you're attempting to get to know each other. Once trust is established, you're likely to have a healthy, ongoing business relationship.

3. Never demean the people you're called to serve. Carol did a great job of practicing this. A gym can be an intimidating place for many people, but she didn't look down on me when I asked follow up questions about equipment, classes, and systems I wasn't familiar with. She respectfully listened to my questions, gave me the answers I needed, and made me feel comfortable asking additional questions as they arose.

4. Speak openly about the kinds of help you offer. You may offer great products and great services, but if no one knows about them, you're missing a great opportunity to serve. I spoke freely about my son's woodworking business. Carol spoke freely about the benefits of joining the gym. We were both ready to hear more details about the kind of help we could offer each other. Keep that in mind regardless of whatever business you're building. Don't keep what you're doing hidden. Write about it. Record videos about it. Share about it on your podcast, or appear as a guest on the podcasts of others. Whatever it takes, speak openly about the kinds of help you offer.

5. Stay relational and accessible. There are many ways to do this. One of the easiest ways is to reply to the communication you receive. If you get a call or an email, get back to the person who contacted you. Don't be afraid to talk to people, and don't be afraid to let others see your real personality. The word of the day is "authentic." If you're authentic, easy to reach, and easy to talk to, that's going to go a long way toward building a healthy relationship with the audience you're trying to serve.

Don't overcomplicate your approach to marketing. You don't have to become a carnival barker with a megaphone to get the word out about what you're doing. You don't have to be a salesman who's always ready to make a pitch. Great marketing is really just building trust and awareness. Keep doing a good job. Keep finding ways to conversationally share about the work you do. Stay focused on the needs of others while remaining authentic and accessible, and I'm convinced you'll see some great results as these principles are consistently applied to your online business or platform.

-John

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