Gini Dietrich

Building Trust Does Not Happen Overnight

By: Gini Dietrich | February 25, 2016 | 
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Building Trust Takes TimesBy Gini Dietrich

I’ve been thinking a lot about trust and, more specifically, building trust and what that takes.

You see, the community we have built here (during the course of seven years, mind you) is widely envied and is one of the reasons we are hired to work with organizations.

But, once we dig in with some clients, they want instant gratification.

They seem to think we have some sort of magic bullet that will help them bypass seven years of building trust and they’ll have overnight success.

Now, you know and I know that just isn’t the case. We both know, when you are building trust with human beings, it takes time.

And yet…

A friend of mine insists that if she buys followers and email lists, she’ll be able to match the community here in much less time.

Yes, I agree.

From a numbers perspective, she will. She’ll probably beat us.

But nothing will happen. She’ll have lots of fans and followers. She’ll email a huge list of addresses. And she’ll see no results.

But she insists she knows better than I do and is following that path.

It’s frustrating to watch and it’s infuriating to discuss with her.

The Edelman Trust Barometer

That’s why I’ve sort of been obsessed with the data from this year’s Edelman Trust Barometer. I need something (clearly other than my experience) to back up my debates with her.

Earlier this week, I wrote a blog post about SaneBox (which I still want to marry).

The reason tools like this exist is because our inboxes are stuffed full with things we didn’t subscribe to, things we don’t want, and things we just don’t care about.

Add to that when your email address is purchased by a company like my friend’s and you are suddenly missing important emails in favor for things you simply don’t want.

This leads to distrust, which clearly is an issue.

The Trust Barometer not only only shows companies that are distrusted have lower sales, but that people very openly criticize them and do everything in their power to dissuade friends and family from buying from them.

Trust Matters

And this doesn’t have to be just consumer businesses.

If you don’t like an organization, you will write a negative review about them anywhere, anytime…and allow the search engines to find it.

Now you’re not only telling friends and family that you hate them, but the entire world.

Search is the Most Trusted

The Trust Barometer shows search is the number one thing people now trust, which means we don’t need to personally know who wrote the review.

Search is FirstI have written only two bad reviews in my entire life.

One is for the restaurant around the corner that first asked my friends and I to leave the bar—on Mr. D.‘s birthday—because they needed the space for people who were going to eat dinner (even though we were drinking top-shelf cocktails) and then, two weeks later, served my in-laws moldy toast during brunch.

The second is for a construction company that bought my email address. I used to receive no less than two emails a day for them. I am not their target. I do not care. So I tried to do the nice thing and simply unsubscribe.

Nope. Didn’t work. The button is broken.

Then I emailed them and asked to be taken off their list.

To no avail.

Then I tried to mark them as spam…and I began to receive the twice-daily emails two times each.

It was so frustrating, I went to Google and then to Facebook to see if anyone had an idea for getting those emails out of my inbox.

I finally was able to send them to the BlackHole when I installed SaneBox, but this is easily two years in the making.

So I wrote a bad review on Google Places and it’s one of the first things that pops up when you search for this company.

Seventy-one percent of us trust what we find in search and, while I’m not saying my review costs this company money, I certainly am a thorn in their side.

Building Trust Takes Time

So, imagine if you will, you’re my friend and you want to build a large community quickly.

You buy some fans and followers. You buy a couple of email lists.

Suddenly the size of your community is quite large.

And then you start pushing people to buy your wares.

You have an aggressive email campaign that says, “Buy my stuff!” every, single day.

You post on your social networks, “Buy my stuff!”

And no one buys.

Not only does no one buy, you begin to get unsubscribes by the masses and you’ve hit the limit your email software allows on spam notices.

Your account is shut down and you lose everything, including the small list of people who do want to hear from you.

What’s worse, people you have never worked with begin to write reviews on Yelp or Google Places or TripAdvisor or just on their own Facebook wall…and they’re not good.

Now, when your company name is searched, these bad reviews pop up and prospective customers are left with a bad taste in their mouths.

All because you didn’t want to take the necessary time—and it does take time—to build trust.

To build the kind of trust that leads to 68 percent of your community to buy from you and 59 percent to tell their friends and family.

Yes, it takes time, but wouldn’t you rather have that?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

  • I couldn’t agree more, Gini! And the second corollary is that, once the customer is enticed in by awareness and good reviews and good reputation, they encounter a business that backs all of that up with a fantastic product/service. That reinforcement is what propels the flywheel.

    • Exactly! I just don’t understand why you would chance sacrificing all of that. We’ve become too impatient. I get that. I do. But impatience doesn’t equate success.

  • I know I sound like a broken record, (Google this idiom if you are too young to understand it :-)), but the R in PR stands for relationships. And positive relationships are built on trust. And building trust takes time and effort. Make the investment and you will see results. My two pennies.

    • Please don’t tell me people don’t know what “broken record” means. Sigh…

  • Jennifer Clark

    They say that good things come to those who wait, but I think it is to those who are consistent, strategic and patient in their approach. You’re right – we’re stuck on instant gratification, and trust doesn’t ever develop overnight. You don’t get raving fans from numerous email pushes – you get it from consistent, quality content and resources you can deliver to them backed up with great service.

    • Amen. Amen. And amen.

      • Consistent, strategic, patient, and PERSONAL. Personal can be very small things (such as a tweet that shows you know that person’s favorite author or a snail mailed note). But make a person feel like you know they’re an individual and you’ may just win a friend/customer for life.

  • I’m reading David Meerman Scott latest edition of The New Rules of Marketing & PR, and the first thing he mentions is the fact that in digital era businesses still advertise like it’s 1996.

    While I do understand the need to sell to keep the cashflow coming in, you have staff on your payroll and all, let’s not forget your business didn’t get where it is today in 1.2 months. It took time to build the company, to gain the reputation, etc.

    Now comes the hard question: Why do you want to screw everything up for 1.2 months?

    Get out of your head, get out of your bubble, and start thinking like a real business man or woman. You’ll see the answer right in front of you.

    • Very, very good point about business growth. It does NOT come overnight. They say overnight success takes 10+ years. I don’t know why we’re ingrained to think this is going to work. We think we’ll get rich overnight. Or lose weight in two days. It doesn’t work!

  • Solid post, Gini, and some great examples, as usual.

    I’m not so sure you can’t “buy” trust. Yes, completely agree that organic and archival trust is more sustainable than bought trust – but then you only need to look at the peer-driven media graphic you shared to show that bloggers are now at the bottom of the pile, whereas they used to be near the top.

    I put this down to all the sponsored crap that blogs are running – it becomes clear when bloggers have jumped the shark and are going for quick bucks over the audience they’ve built over the years.

    So it doesn’t matter if you’ve built organic and lifetime trust, because that can be taken away in an instant by a bad decision (or series of bad decisions).

    But if you buy a very targeted list (or ad) and have a solid strategy behind it, that trust can, and will, come (and be found, because search rules). And search is anonymous – so where’s the trust factor there?

    A quick example is the discourse we’ve been having over the use of Sniply.
    While you explain that it’s an experiment (and it may be working, I don’t know), I can’t help but see Sniply (and other services like it, like StartAFire) as content hijacking, and using someone else’s content to drive traffic and revenue to your business (“you” being generic, and not you as in Spin Sucks).

    It’s a crappy way to get traffic, and reduces the trust factor I would have in sharing content from users of that service. I’d rather go direct to the source and share that.

    Yes, it takes longer, but it’s worth it to do, because then the real recipient of the traffic and content praise gets it.

    Anyhoo… I’ve rambled a wee bit there. Point is, trust is both organic and “forced”, and both can be as rewarding as the other. Both can also be lost as quickly as they’re gained.

    • I struggle a little bit with that as a (very entry level) blogger who works for/with brands. I also see it every day in the fact that we work with authors. I don’t know the stat on this, but it’s more trustworthy for most people to see a set or reviews that has at least one non-five star than five stars across the board — because it makes it look like thought was put into the review. And a four-star isn’t BAD.

      • Sorry, miss, I’m lost – was this in response to another comment? 🙂

        • Oh no! I guess an inference that stood out to me was seen through my personal filter (and you’re really not a mindreader???!!!). Let me try to connect the dots. My comment was in reference to “I put this down to all the sponsored crap that blogs are running – it becomes clear when bloggers have jumped the shark and are going for quick bucks over the audience they’ve built over the years.

          So it doesn’t matter if you’ve built organic and lifetime trust, because that can be taken away in an instant by a bad decision (or series of bad decisions).”

          And I know your discussion mostly ended up being about targeted lists and the like.

          My point was, if I had to distill it down into one brief statement: It makes you look untrustworthy to say “trust me! I have your best interests at heart! Buy/read/eat this!” if you don’t TRULY believe it and/or are unwilling to disclose the pros AND cons of the product/book/restaurant.
          Honesty matters.

          Hope this helps — sorry again to obfuscate!

          • Ah, gotcha. Yes, I agree. And I don’t have an issue with sponsored content if the fit is right and it’s clearly in line with what the blogger has been talking about for years.

            But you can ruin that in an instant when you suddenly shove a paid post in someone’s face about hair cream, when you’re bald and don’t own a comb.

            That’s why trust can be bought, and can be rewarding and successful, just as much as organic trust can be lost (and vice versa).

          • Agree. And am I ever glad we got this straightened out. 😉

  • Michelle Hals

    Yes to all of this, Gini. Even if you’ve built your list organically over time, you can lose trust if you start sending out “buy my/our stuff” emails all the time. And don’t even get me started on the thrice-daily “hurry! the sale ends tonight” emails. Ugh.

    • So I shouldn’t send you an email to buy my stuff??

  • I’ll take a smaller reach with trusted followers over a larger reach with uninvested followers… any… day… of… the… week.
    I’ve been working hard at building trust online over the last few years and am now really seeing the benefit.
    You know… thanks to everything I have learned through Spin Sucks and Orbit Media Studios. 🙂
    –Tony Gnau

    • And we are getting better at the Inquisition because of you. So yay!

  • Coming from a different angle.. I’ve grown so leery of professionals & companies that offer services and offer the “teaser” webinar, ebook, whatever. You (hesitantly) take the bait – knowing what will probably happen, but hoping for the best and then once it’s over, it happens. They bombard you with constant, daily, emails. If I were going to make the move to enroll in your class, etc. I absolutely will not now because that trust is completely shot. I get why they do it but it’s such a turn off. And no, I’m not talking about you 🙂

    • The trouble with that specific example is the way it is handled works. Last year when we launched our online course beta, I FREAKED out at the number of emails I was counseled to send. But you know what? It worked. Waaaaaaay better than I would have expected. Because, like you, I HATE that level of emailing.

      If you are bombarded, it’s because the person hasn’t taken the time to segment correctly. Trust me, it’s not easy to do, but it should be done. If you haven’t opened an email, you should get another email. If you opened, but didn’t click, you should get something else. If you opened and clicked, but didn’t buy, you should get something else entirely. And if you did buy, you shouldn’t keep getting the emails.

      That’s the real issue, I think. The segmentation wasn’t done.

  • Hi Gini,

    I just came over because I wanted to check out this fancy new comment system. A little bird told me that Danny Brown is responsible 😉

    Seriously, great post! LOVE the message here and it’s very much in line with a post I just started writing after I interviewed Andrew Davis. Andrew was pretty passionate when describing why helping an organization question all assumptions is so important for any creative professional—marketing consultant, PR pro, Branding company, etc. They should work to help companies question all assumptions. You do this… all I have to do is read the book, Spin Sucks 😉

    What are they currently doing differently then the competition, especially when it comes to all levels of client interaction? Are they thinking about everything they can do to make their client’s experience better?

    This is a new kind of thinking for most companies and organizations AND effectively, authentically, truly building TRUST is a huge part of that!

    I still work with many clients who want to take the shortcut and buy lists. To be perfectly honest with you, I’ve tried it in my own business and the results reflect exactly what you stated here. Okay, if you want to lay a goose egg 😉

    Keep preaching wisdom, Gini.

    Cheers!

    • Come on, man, you know Gini well enough now to know she pretty much always follows along when it comes to comment ideas and who leads the way… 😉

      • I know, but what about poor Livefyre? 😉

        • What about them? 😉

          You must admit, this is a heck of a lot easier and more convenient. 🙂

  • Excellent post Gini, thank you. Looking at your subscriber list, which has grown fast in the last 6 months, and knowing you are not buying fans, it suggests that trust, once established, increases fans/followers exponentially. The more fans you have that trust you the more people are out there advocating for you and sharing their experience with others (or quoting you). Isn’t this what all businesses strive for?

    • It DEFINITELY is, but many are not willing to take the time or spend the money to get there. If they see something isn’t working within 90 days, the first instinct is to shut it down.

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