Educating Your Customers to Build Trust & Referrals

Two business people sharing ideas and referrals.

Build trust for consistent referrals by educating your customers with great content. Your customers will gladly refer a resource they trust.  Content marketing can quickly educate your customers while demonstrating your expertise. The side effect of all this education is that you are facilitating referrals from these educated customers. Creating great content that your prospects and customers want to share is the tipping point. If the content doesn’t get shared, then there is no chance of referrals.

Although many experts and gurus talk about ‘Great Content’, it is sometimes difficult to recognize. Great content has three vital characteristics: honesty, relevance and expertise.

Content Needs To Be Honest

We’re not talking about over-sharing, but more about being authentic and opening a dialogue.  This can be accomplished by online polls, customer support forums, online ratings both on your site and third party review sites. Asking for your customer’s opinions and reviews and responding to the comments both negative and positive.  Being ethical and positive in how you respond and interact should be a first priority to maintain trust.  Negative comments and reviews should not be deleted but rather addressed.  After a few deep breaths with a calm and helpful tone. Avoid sounding like a pompous “know-it-all” saying, “Well, you didn’t use our product correctly.” or as a heartless tyrant, “That’s our policy and you have to deal with it.”

I once saw a response on a real estate firm’s review where the owner basically called the reviewer a dummy for not reading the fine print of the agreement since “everyone else” understood it with no problem.  The moral of the story is to keep your raw emotion out of it. See the problem from the customer’s point of view and remember your core mission. Would you rather have a referral or win an argument?  It’s better to create goodwill and turn that person into a satisfied customer who will speak kindly of the experience with their own network.  Besides, this is actually valuable feedback.  Maybe your company should consider the complaint as a potential problem that needs to be addressed.

Relevance Wins Hearts & Minds

Relevance meaning that your content is not self centered.  Your content talks about your ideal customer’s needs and wants not your super Grade A award-winning product or service.  Blogs that focus on special discounts, how many hours of training the owner went through or how many cakes you sold last weekend only serve to boost the author’s ego and it is not valuable for your customer.  Your customer has specific expectations of what they want to get from interacting with your company.  Talking about how wonderful you are all the time only encourages the reader to tune out as they detect another commercial.  Think about it.  When a commercial starts on TV don’t you feel the temptation to switch the channel or leave the room?

Demonstrate Your Expertise

Expertise is a quality we all have on some level in our industries.  As the business owner, you started your company because of an intense need to share you skills and knowledge while earning a living.  You have training, education, and work experience in some specialized way no matter what your business. Showing your expertise is important to your customers and prospects.  They want to know that they are making a good decision in hiring you to help them.  No one likes to make mistakes.

By demonstrating your expertise in your field, you are becoming a resource instead of a salesperson.  You cut through the hype and stand in your authority. As an expert you help guide the customer through their decisions.  Expert content gives the customer the information when they look for it; not when you broadcast it.  Some owners scoff at the idea of giving out ‘free advice’.  Just remember, you’re not giving away your work.  You are demonstrating that you are the right person to solve a particular problem.  Publishing an eBook about what to look for when hiring an attorney is very different than giving out legal advice to a client in a consultation.

These three characteristics: Honesty, Relevance & Expertise can help create content that builds Know, Like and Trust.  Once your business is seen as the logical resource, you are seen as the obvious choice over your competition.  To existing customers you become the ongoing teacher who helps guide them even after the sale is over.  Now you don’t have customers, you have brand ambassadors.  People who enjoy telling their friends and family about how hiring your company is simply the best decision they  made.