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Use This Content Process to Help You Build Trust

  • “Your car needs a whole new exhaust system,” your mechanic tells you.
  • “There’s no way to fix that tooth except with an implant that may cost $3,000,” says your dentist.
  • “This tax deduction is entirely legal and none of my clients has been challenged on it,” promises your accountant.


Do you go ahead with their recommendations? Probably — provided you trust them. Trust is huge. If you’ve got the trust of another person, they’ll follow you, buy your products or services, and recommend you to others. If you don’t, they’ll push back, demand concessions on price or terms, and take their business elsewhere.

So, any way that your content can build trust is golden. One way to do this is through what I call the “how-to-work-with” (HTWW) type of content. HTWW content provides advice on how a prospective client can get the best possible results from a company like yours.

HTWW content is particularly useful in the case of a commodity product or service. Say you’re driving your vehicle on an empty gas tank, and you arrive at a place with three gas stations. Reward cards aside, you’ll likely choose the one with the lowest price. That’s because there’s a low-perceived difference among brands of gasoline.

So if you have a “me-too” product or service (a commodity), one of the most potent ways to stand out from the competition is by providing your clients with content that helps inform their decisions. By making this content available (whether it’s text, video, audio, graphics — they all have a role to play), you show your willingness to help customers achieve their desired outcomes.

Think of your clients’ worst fears

Imagine you’re a home renovation contractor who genuinely tries to do good, honest work for a fair price. Yet, at every social event you go to, you’re regaled with horror stories of contractors who started projects and abandoned them half-completed, or of cost estimates that kept increasing. Maybe a roof collapsed or a basement flooded due to a contractor’s error. You’ve found that trust for contractors often is low.

So, you need a way to show that you’re trustworthy. Getting past that barrier is key to getting a chance to show what you can do for your clients, and this can be achieved through HTWW content.

Your first task in generating this content is to determine what tends to go wrong in working with a company like yours, or what clients fear might go wrong. In the case of a home renovation contractor, this might include the homeowner not being aware that summer is a particularly busy time for contractors, and that jobs may take longer then than they do in winter. So, the content you develop might point out that projects carried out in the winter may mean a shorter period of disruption, dust, and noise.

Describe the games some renovators play to keep expanding a project’s scope (“We can put a new roof on the whole house, not just the extension”). Be open in talking about fraud — how some contractors invoice for high-quality materials while substituting lower-quality. Regardless of the situation you use as the foundation of your content, you can follow these steps to help narrow your focus:

  • Think of the most common situations under which projects or transactions in your business tend to go sideways.
  • Determine the causes of the problems.
  • Develop recommendations on how clients can help avoid those problems, or fix them when they occur.

What allows your company to provide really great service?

After you’ve detailed some nightmares, think of your “dream” projects — ones where you or your company really rocked. What went on between you and your client to make this magic happen?

For a home renovator, this might include the contractor and homeowner agreeing ahead of time on realistic costs and deadlines. The client provided input but didn’t micro-manage, didn’t ask for major changes halfway through the project, and was available to answer questions promptly.

Steps for creating this type of content include:

  • Thinking of situations that resulted in a satisfied (or delighted) client.
  • Listing the factors that led to this joyous state of affairs.
  • Describing them in terms of ways clients can influence the process in a positive direction.

Be sure to tell your clients how they can save money on a project (wouldn’t that work for you?), such as outlining which parts of the work they can do themselves if they want, or when it’s possible to use lower-cost materials without negatively affecting project quality.

Generate content

If you’re generating content in text form, bullet points are a good way to communicate HTWW information. Organize your content in a useful way — maybe categorizing it as actions to take “before the project starts,” “during the project,” and “at completion.”

In my opinion, video is a particularly good medium for HTWW content — the idea is to build trust, and this is best done if your spokesperson is able to present ideas in a face-to-face way. It doesn’t matter if they’re not telegenic (and it may even be better if they’re not). Just as some people think that anyone who’s physically attractive can’t also be smart, viewers may assume that anyone who comes across as “too slick” may be lacking in ethics.

Content that is generated in cooperation with a satisfied client is perhaps the most useful and credible. For example, you can create an interview — in a video or audio format — in which the client describes the factors that made for a successful project.

An added benefit of the HTWW content process is that it can be used for your company’s team building and internal development efforts as well as for leads and sales. Perhaps your leaders have never sat down and thought about what strategies are more likely to result in successful transactions or projects, or what factors to attribute problems to. Developing HTWW content is a chance to think through these issues. The result can be better service, and a better work environment for yourself and your colleagues.

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Image courtesy of Carl Friesen