Trust has always been an important issue. And now that ‘fake news’ seems to be replacing the real thing it’s just become mission-critical for your business.

So how can you create and build trust in yourself, your business, and the work that you do there?

The most obvious way – and one we’ve recommended before – is to get testimonials from your clients. If you find the thought of that worrying, you shouldn’t. As long as you’re doing a reasonable job a happy client will certainly be willing to say that they’re happy. Just send them an email, or give them a call, and ask. And if they need some help with the words then talk to them, write something, send it, and ask them to change anything they’re not 100% happy to see in print.

But suppose you get negative feedback?

Then be grateful. It’s very likely that the person concerned would never have told you they had a problem. In fact you might well have lost their business – without knowing why. Negative feedback gives you the chance to make good, and turn a grumpy customer into a loud and happy advocate for your business.

Don’t believe me? Then here’s an example…

A disaster – recovered

When we launched Mill House Media we needed a distribution system for our email newsletters – which, at the time, was working but still in beta.

One of the problem areas involved the newsletter equivalent of ‘mail merge’ – putting the recipient’s name into each email to add that vital touch of personalisation.

I’d been assured the issue was fixed, so I happily sent out a newsletter for a much-valued client. And was a little surprised to discover that my own copy of it was addressed to ‘Dear Susan’.

Not an alter ego I was familiar with…

So I gulped, swallowed, and decided to do the right thing.

I rang the client, explained what had happened, apologised, and asked how we could help put things right. I also offered to waive our fee for that issue.

When they’d stopped laughing (a better reaction than I’d expected) we discussed a strategy – and came up with a solution they were happy with. Oh, and they paid their fee.

Later I attended a seminar they were giving on the subject of good customer relations. Their marketing manager was talking about the right things for a supplier to do when they make a mistake.

She then introduced me to everyone else in the room – as a valued and trusted supplier who had made a mistake, and then done everything possible to put it right.

She had become more than a good client. She’d become an advocate. Someone happy to say, to anyone who would listen, that they could trust me and my team with their email newsletters, knowing that we’d do everything we could to deliver a quality product.

Telling the story

So how can you use testimonials in your marketing?

The most obvious way is to put them, prominently, on your website. And don’t do it just once – keep them refreshed and topped up by staying in regular contact with your clients. It won’t hurt to ask for a new testimonial every year or two – and to make the effort to get them from new customers who haven’t yet had their say.

With those clients who are your best advocates, take a little more time and work with them to write a case study – something to explain what their problem was, and how you helped them to solve it. Some of this content can be especially useful when you are writing a home page for your website.

Now think about social media. Could you quote some testimonials on your Facebook page? Better yet, could you get advocates to post their reviews on the page, giving you external validation?

Have you got good quotes you can use on your Twitter feed? Then use them while they’re fresh – ideally within a day or two of getting them. You can reuse them later on, but fresh content is always more effective.

And don’t forget LinkedIn. Again, you can invite your advocates to post their reviews here, where once again people will see for themselves what others think of you. My personal LinkedIn page includes well over 100 recommendations for my work with email newsletters – which certainly doesn’t do any harm when potential clients are looking for an expert.

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