Twice this week I’ve seen research reports that verify what brand experts have been saying for years:
“Small brands have a distinct advantage in gaining the trust and loyalty of consumers.”
Those of us the that work with the “little guys” know it is true. What the research verifies is that the advantage accrues in both the Business to Consumer and the Business to Business World.
Trust is a complication
According to the Edelman 2018 Trust Barometer, Trust in traditional media, search engines and social media varies around the world. Here in the USA, Trust in Traditional media is at best neutral (58%), in search engines at 54% and in social media declining, now at just 30%.
Trust Building: Advantage Little Guy
The bond between brands and people favors small businesses:
- Customer service is the number one way to the heart of a today’s consumer
- Direct conversations are considered more truthful than advertising
- Social media is essential to discovering new brands and building an emotional relationship
- Brands expected to pressure platforms to address fake news and hate speech
- Brands are obligated to protect personal data (89% in the USA)
Service to the customer is part and parcel of the small business. Just about anyone in the small operation will help you or point you to someone who can. That is the everyday experience. It can be even more impressive when you have problem.
Small businesses generally can’t afford setting up technology heavy customer service departments. The likelihood that you will talk to a real person without having to go through an interminable automated phone message system is high. The probability that the person you talk to will be able to act on your problem without deferring for an approval is significantly higher than you’ll find dialing into the big guys. Even if the matter must be referred to a supervisor you’ll get a resolution now instead of waiting days.
Major brands advertise at you. Small brands build relationships. Would you rather have a conversation or hear a commercial? Small brands, particularly as they are beginning get to know you. As they grow they get to know a lot of folks like you. The thing is, for them a lot is a business. The same number for a big business is a drop in the bucket.
So the little guys tend to talk with you, not at you. They understand why you want to eat the whole half-pint of ice cream or how you like your Latte in a mug not paper without having to ask for it. They have listened when you told them you prefer text or e-mail to learn about special sales or events. They pay attention because they know this relationship is important to both of you.
All brands must act to:
- Give customers a better deal for their data
- Create trusted content on social media
- Join forces to build trust in social media
Those are not my words. They are straight out of the Edelman report.
The deal: What they mean is that the consumers/customers expect their personal data to be kept safe, that policies are clear, and that it is okay to build a relationship using that information.
The content: Builds credibility through quality, well designed material that is transparent as to author and sponsorship. Allows opt in/opt out. Stays consistent using the same message across media.
The trust: Brands, along with government and help from consumers are expected to be proactive about data and privacy, create and champion quality content, act with integrity, transparency and humanity.
The most recent hate speech reaction of note was from one of the big guys. Nike supported Colin Kaepernick’s taking a knee during the national anthem. Initially the reaction was disbelief. But among the Nike customers the reaction was extremely positive. Nike had a solid relationship which made the decision an obvious one.
Protecting your personal data is not an easy task for the little guy. True, they may have less information and it may be in human memory initially but sooner or later it will wind up in a contact relationship management database. Even then, it may be easier to preserve as it is too small for hackers to go after it. But, the availability of highly secure cloud storage may partially solve that problem.
Little guy? Build your relationship with clients and customers.
You’ll generate trust and loyalty to build your business and the joy in your life.
Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com
His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.