According to an article posted last week by copywriter Clayton Makepeace, skepticism is the prevailing attitude we’re facing in our marketing efforts these days. (The entire article is worth the read. You can find it here.)
As he points out, it’s no surprise we don’t believe much of what we see, read and hear when we’re bombarded with tabloid hype, spam in our inboxes and scripted “reality” shows.
Building and maintaining a reputation for trustworthiness and likeability takes ongoing effort.
The good news is there are many ways to do this.
1. Be likeable
Seems obvious, doesn’t it? In his famous book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnagie suggests these simple but powerful actions: Be happy to see people, smile, remember peoples’ names, say “thank you.” If you genuinely like others, it’ll show, and people will respond to that.
2. Be trustworthy
Never compromise peoples’ trust in you. If you say you won’t give away their private information, don’t. Honor due dates. Do your best work. If you make a mistake, admit it and correct it.
3. Be generous
One of the reasons content marketing works so well is the businesses that practice it are giving away valuable information. Prospects and customers appreciate that. It builds a positive connection.
So what things in your business can you be generous with? Useful information? A discount for your best customers? Rewarding referrals that lead to new business? An unconditional guarantee?
Those are all general ways to build your likeability. Now here are some specific marketing ideas you can use that’ll help you leverage it:
4. Send hand-written, snail-mailed thank you cards occasionally
Who gets personal notes in the mail anymore? What a welcome relief from the piles of junk mail. If you’re a small business with just a handful of repeat customers, it won’t be that daunting to send a personal card.
Check out Send Out Cards — an online company that will print and send your personally designed and signed cards for you.
5. Publish a regular e-newsletter
Some marketers use e-newsletters only to build an email list. You’re missing a huge relational opportunity if you fail to use yours to build your connections.
Regular publication will keep your name and business in the front of your readers’ minds when they need the product or service you offer. And continually offering useful information will increase your reputation for generosity and expertise.
6. Be social in your social media
The social media sites where your business is active depends on the type of business you do. But the whole point is connecting relationally—so connect.
Ask questions in your posts that invite your readers to comment. Then comment on the comments once in awhile to show you haven’t just posted and left the room. People will be pleased to see you’re part of the conversation.
Blogging started as online journaling. But savvy business owners and marketers have latched onto blogging as a great connection tool.
Blogs are more casual than other more “official” marketing venues, and are a great way to show your personality. They’re also another great way to invite a conversation with prospects and customers.
8. Ask for and give referrals and testimonials
Word-of-mouth is still the most powerful marketing tool out there. Anytime a customer has a great experience and shares that with someone else, the trust and likeability come built in.
Don’t be shy about asking your customers for their feedback. And don’t be shy about giving your feedback to businesses you work with, too.
These next two are just good business. It’s amazing, though, how many companies are lousy at it.
9. Offer outstanding customer service
If you’re following #1 and genuinely like people, you’ll want to do what you can to follow through on customer complaints. They’re never fun. But how you handle them can be the deciding factor in whether your customers return or not…and what they tell their friends or business associates about you.
It’s always worth it to work hard at keeping your customers thrilled with your products or services.
10. Cultivate repeat business
I’ve done business with companies that do #9 so poorly it makes me think they don’t care about repeat business. But it’s a well-known marketing principle that your current customers are your best bet for future business.
Get to know your customers well enough to be able to know what they want and need. Give them ideas of other ways your business can help them. Help them to know, like and trust you.
What have you found works great for you in your business? Let us know in the comments below.
You may also want to read: How to Write a Blog Your Customers Want to Read.
(PHOTO: My dog, Jazz—she likes everybody!)