In their minds and get word of mouth for your business.
Trust is fragile. In a recent post about the intangible art of trust at American Express OPEN, Matthew May cited consumer behaviorist Ernest Dichter. In the 1950s, Dichter determined that most people perceive at least five dimensions of downside risk every time they engage in a purchase experience:
- Economic -- will this waste my money?
- Functional -- will this work reliably well?
- Social -- will others think less of me?
- Physical -- will this somehow be painful?
- Mental -- will I think poorly of myself?
Most business owners wonder -- how can I make what I offer stand out to gain more customers? It starts with trust. Standing out doesn't need to be universal, the whole marketplace, the whole world. Address these risks for your customers, and you begin to stand out in their minds. That's where the opportunity is.
Answer those questions.(1.) Will this waste my money?
While value is subjective, the quality of your product and service is something you can address. If you're building your reputation with a new service or product, consistency can shore up the lack of proof on quality. To me they go hand in hand.
In the absence of a relationship that can give us information about reliability and experience, your product or service will be compared to that of others. How do you stack up on price? Do you address the perceptual difference with other customers reviews and reputation?(2.) Will this work reliably well?
Design an experience around your product and service. In both cases, functionality depends on what individuals choose to do with it. Do they use it often? Do they rely on your service for things that are critical to their success?
Integrating social media and networks with your marketing allows you to share recipes, stories, ways to use something, while building a user community. Appreciating the functionality of a product or service is easier where there are ways to do that over time.(3.) Will others think less of me?
Social proofing is very important. This is another place where design of experience can help. On one side you have the aesthetics of the product itself -- while these are subjective, there are some universal principles that govern beauty. For example, we may not know we respond to it, an oval face is considered by and large more attractive.
We respond to it instinctively. The fashion industry is built upon our need to be accepted and liked. Many brands appeal to social conventions. You sense of self-identity is engaged here as well. Would you rather be seen driving a Ferrari or a Honda hybrid? Who are you trying to attract?(4.) Will this somehow be painful?
Quality and consistency help us feel safe physically as well. We have a need to feel safe, it's the lower regions of the brain that dictate that. Painful is a difficult customer service transaction, for example. If you operate in an industry that has a very poor track record, standing out for superb customer service could be your branding differentiation.
Are you asking for customer collaboration for crowd-sourcing and making them jump through hoops?(5.) Will I think poorly of myself?
The three main reasons why people buy are fear, love, and hope. We have internal barometers and follow our own instinct on each of these. When we buy out of fear, we tend to despise the brand a little, or treat it as commodity -- can we get that same thing at a cheaper price?
What can you do to be in the hope and love categories? Building relationships of trust is critical for fulfilling hope. Creating a smashing experience with a service or an irresistible product will help you with the love reason.
You know that in many cases, more than one of these questions surfaces in your customers' minds. Trust may be intangible, you can use many tangible ways to build it -- and stand out in your customers minds in the process.
Why is is so difficult to do? What do you find daunting?
© 2010 Valeria Maltoni. All rights reserved.