Attract and Retain Clients through Trust-Based Marketing








There’s no need to sell
your soul to sell your services. When you make use of trust basedmarketing you will find it far easier to attract and retain clients.

This type of marketing works brilliantly for relationship-oriented service professionals such as coaches, consultants, advisers, and
therapists. If your service fits one of these categories then you need to read on.

One of the key factors your prospective clients use when choosing one service over another, is how trustworthy they perceive you to be. When your prospects look at your marketing materials they not only want to to know “what’s in it for me?” but also “who are you and why should I trust you?” How you answer these unspoken questions should form a vital element of your marketing.

Yet marketing wisdom tells us that people
typically buy based on emotion and then justify with a rationale. What this means in practice is that a ‘just the facts’ presentation of your service offering and your credentials is unlikely to be as effective as you’d like. Being authentic and honest doesn’t mean your marketing has to be dry and uninspiring. Let’s have a look at the elements of your online marketing that contribute toward eliciting trust in your prospective clients.

How trustworthy you are perceived to be can be described by a formula:

Trustworthiness = Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy Self-orientation


Credibility is probably one of the things that we’re most familiar with in terms of establishing trustworthiness. An often used strategy is an About Me page on your website where you


talk about your credentials and any qualifications you have. One critical yet underused technique is the use of testimonials. Testimonials and case studies are a powerful way to demonstrate your credibility in the sense that you are al lowing other people to speak on your behalf and provide some social proof of the results that you can achieve.The reality is that credibility can be enhanced or diminished by any apsect of the way you present yourself online.

This includes what I call touch-points or any point of contact where a prospective client accesses your marketing materials such as your website or an email response or even your voicemail recording. Other touch points include articles you’ve submitted online and your Twitter or Facebook profile. The way you present yourself at these touch points must be congruent throughout. They should all work together to enhance your professional presentation and develop your credibility. There’s nothing more powerful in developing your credibility than having your credentials, your testimonials and all aspects of your presentation delivering the same clear message.


Reliability is a little bit more difficult to portray up front. It’s something that is described through the results of your actions. If someone hasn’t previously worked with you they won’t know until actually using your services how reliable you are. This is where it’s crucial to make sure that if you do provide a service that you meet or exceed any agreed times, budgets and outcomes. That said, there are two things you can do up front to establish your reliability: 1) Use selected testimonials that support your claims about reliability. 2) Provide a sample service that allows people to try your service in a low-risk way before considering your more expensive services. This way they can see for themselves that you are trustworthy and reliable. Chances are they will then feel much more comfortable in proceeding to bigger purchases.


Intimacy is about how comfortable your clients feel working and sharing their personal or business information with you. Obviously the nature of the information shared depends on the type of working relationship you have with your clients.

For example a counselling session involves sharing of more highly personal information than a consulting session. But in actual fact, there are personal components of information provided in any consulting relationship and the importance is still the same. What your prospective clients need to know is: “Will you protect my information with the same care that I give it?” “Are you honest?” “Will I be able to see you as a trusted adviser, not just a salesperson?” and “Are you in this for me or is it just about you?”
One of the ways to convey this is to use a tone of voice in your marketing materials that is authentic and honest. When you have conversations or emails with prospective clients, do it in such a way that conveys warmth and humanity. When you are transparent and authentic the general image you provide is that of someone with no hidden agenda. More than anything in a consulting or coaching relationship is to listen to what your client needs. Listen more than you talk so that the image you’re portraying is of someone who is trying to learn about your client.


Self-orientation is how focused we are on ourselves vs how focused we are on the client. If your self-orientation is low, that means that you are focused on the other person. To the prospective client your trustworthiness goes up. The less self-oriented you are, i.e., the more client-oriented you are, the greater the trust they will have in you. This is quite different from the undesirable image many of us have of the used car salesman, who typically has a very high self-orientation. This type of sales-person is not particularly interested in selling the right car to the right person. Instead their main focus is on making the sale to get their commission. That’s a low trust element.All of these elements explain that authenticity is crucial. Basically, people choose to do business with folks they like and trust. If you can focus on building a better relationship with your potential clients right from the start and shift the focus from making the immediate sale, you will paradoxically end up making more sales and developing long-term, loyal clients.

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