How do we build trust?

I am indebted this week to Seth Godin for inspiring my blog with his own blog last week on the subject of trust. He identified 12 factors that help us decide whether or not to even engage with a piece of marketing communication. I’m going to take a look at 3 and explore how they can help us build trust.
Longevity / consistency
We instinctively trust things that have been around a long time and things we recognise. A sense of permanence makes us feel like we can depend on a brand – we know exactly what we are going to get. Even if occasionally the actual experience slips, we’re inclined to forgive and assume that next time it will be back to normal. As marketers, we should be wary of the temptation to make big changes or delete brands and products just because they have been around a long time. A planned steady evolution that stays true to the established brand values increases our chances of being trusted.
Word of mouth
Sure, everyone knows how powerful word of mouth is. I think most marketers would agree that it’s probably the most effective form of marketing there is. At a psychological level, if I have heard good things about a brand from people I know (and like and/or trust) then I will tend to assume it’s true. The key here is to maximise the number of people who are saying good things about us and our brands. The difference between a “willingness to recommend” and actually recommending may seem small, but in many businesses it can make a vital difference to sales and long term success. How easy do we make it for people to recommend us and how do we thank them for doing so?
Tone of voice
The more urgent (desperate) we sound; the less people are inclined to trust us. The phone salesperson who tells you that “the deal is only available if you sign up now” immediately provokes scepticism in our minds, often making us think or ask “where’s the catch?” Text, videos, podcasts and radio ads that sound less pressured, more relaxed and chatty generate more trust. Again, consistency is important – website text and brochure copy should match the way we actually speak to customers. We need to think about the words and phrases we use, how much jargon we include and the pace of our speech.
Trust is hard to build, easy to undermine but so very valuable it’s got to be worth the effort.