It’s a hot summer day and you’re on vacation with your family. Walking around the quaint little river town you’ve decided to visit, you suddenly start to hear, “I’m thirsty.” If you don’t fix the problem in about five minutes, the calls for a cold drink are going to turn from matter-of-fact into the kind of whining that makes a parent want to leave the kids home next time. 

Luckily you spot a lemonade stand staffed by two girls, with hand-colored signs and a big sweaty pitcher of lemonade. Perfect. While you’re waiting to cross the street, you look to your left and spot another lemonade stand. You can buy from that stand without having to cross the street. But something’s off. The stand is decorated with hand-colored signs. And, just like the stand across the busy street, there’s a nice big pitcher of lemonade ready to quench your thirst. But sitting behind the table is a man in his mid 50s. He’s wearing bib overalls and a grease-stained shirt and has a beard that looks like it could destroy your electric trimmer. You don’t think twice; you grab your kids by the hand, wait another ten seconds for traffic, and cross the street to buy from the kids.

No trust? No sale.

Trust is the only relevant keyword when it comes to obtaining—or maintaining— leader status in your market. Every aspect of your brand must work together to build trust between your company and its customers. It doesn’t matter if you’re a nonprofit or if you sell lemonade or if you sell tractors or if you’re a financial advisor,  and so on. Every customer, prospect, and client needs to trust the person or company with whom they do business. No trust? No sale. 

Start with the BIG Picture, then Worry About the Puzzle Pieces

We get it. Like everything, marketing costs money. And it takes time to do it well. Heck, we even put off Lead Marketing & Design’s website for four years because we were focused on client work. Until one day we said, “ we need to get it done,” even if it means building pages at odd hours of the day when we should be sleeping or watching kids take apart the living room.

If your brand needs a brush-up, or if you’re founding a brand-new business, and you want to hit the ground with the most effective marketing in the shortest amount of time, take this simple piece of advice: Start with the BIG picture. When LM&D begins work with a client, we prefer to review 5 key areas as a first step before we take any steps toward building a website or creating a marketing plan. Why? If you skip this big-picture overview . . . if you don’t make sure every aspect of your brand is working together to build trust between your brand and its customers, chances are you’ll waste money on ineffective marketing and leave the wrong impression.

1. Brand Identity

Your customers must encounter consistent branding every time they see your brand. Does your website, your print materials, your ads all have the same “look”? This is the simplest to get right. From page layouts to your business logo, people should never have to guess if you’re you or not you. 

2. Language

What do you have to say for yourself? There’s a million right answers, but the way in which you talk about your company and products (or services) needs to be consistent at every customer touchpoint. And the language you use has to be clear and to the point. Clever makes an impression every once and a blue moon; clarity makes a memorable impression each and every time. If a potential customer has to work to figure out what you offer and how it’s going to make his or her life better, that person is going to be someone else’s potential customer instead.

3. Products and Services

Speaking of products and services, does your marketing clearly explain what you have to offer? Do potential customers understand what you do and what you don’t do? If you’re a landscaping company that specializes in patio and other hardscape work and prefers not to deal with water features, do customers learn this from your marketing?  If not, #3 will quickly prove why #1 and #2 are so vital to building trust with your customers. 

5. Customer Experience

Expecting this to be #4? Congratulations: you’re sane. Customers have expectations too, especially if you’ve planted them in their minds. If something’s out of place, they’re sure to notice. If you routinely talk up your agency as “the friendliest insurance agency in town” but your surly office staff makes customers run the other way, your marketing isn’t going to make an impact. In fact, it’s going to work against you because what you say and what you do don’t match. And that erodes trust.

5. Customer Journey

Customers love to know your plan for them. They love to know what’s going to happen next. How do they make a purchase? What happens after they fill out your online contact form? When can they expect to hear back from you? If your marketing makes customers wonder about the process of doing business with your business, they might deliver their business to your competition.

Cost-Effective Marketing Begins with Trust

It may seem like a lot of work to review these 5 key areas when just getting to know a client. However, acquiring a clear understanding of a brand—it’s strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement—generally shortens the time between the initial creative work and meaningful results. At the end of the day, customers want to do business with brands they trust. People are willing to “cross the street” to do business with a brand that inspires trust. Consistency across the board—at every customer touchpoint—is the most powerful way to inspire trust between your brand and your customers.

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