How can I build the know-like-and-trust factor?

Q and A by Joan FriedlanderIf you’ve ever taken a course in marketing, you’ve heard of the “know-like-and-trust-factor.” It seems it would be worthwhile to understand this factor and what it really means to us.

Those of us who sell services rather than products have three characteristics in common:

1. We’re selling something intangible. Our services are invisible. People can’t touch them or see them, so they have to imagine the benefits and results.

2. Using our services is usually optional. They aren’t required for life or work, so they are often seen as a luxury rather than a necessity. We may know our services can change people’s lives, but investing in them usually requires some disposable income.

3. Because of characteristics 1 and 2, we have to build the know-like-and-trust-factor in order to make a sale. We have to appeal to our prospective clients’ emotions, and rank favorably in all three areas that make up this critical factor:

  • Know — I’ve heard or seen your name. I’ve seen you around, I’ve heard about you and/or your company, and I think I know something about you. (They may or may not know much, but they believe they do.)
  • Like — I like your style. You make me feel comfortable and I get a sense that you care about me.
  • Trust — Not only do I like you, but I feel you have enough expertise in solving my problem that I’m willing to pay you good money to do that. It will be worth the return on my investment.

Building the “know” factor

Public speaking, writing articles in print and online publications, and regular attendance at networking events will all get your name out to large numbers of people. If people see you, your name, and your picture enough times they start to feel they know you. In some cases, advertising in targeted venues or displaying at trade shows attended by your target market can help, but it’s wise not to rely on advertising and promotion alone.

Public speaking can be especially helpful to get your name out there. When you speak on a fairly regular basis, you not only get in front of more people at one time, but the advertising an organization does to attract people to the event goes out to an even larger audience. If you’re choosing your venues well, then your name will be seen by people in your target market much more quickly and frequently than if you tried to contact them all yourself.

The “know” factor alone is not enough. It’s helpful, but if you want people to buy from you, then you have to build a bridge to “like” and “trust.” People may know all about you but they still need that personal connection. For example, people know Charles Schwab, the company, but they work with Mary Smith, the broker. If you’re relying on marketing tactics that build the “know” factor, but are shy about getting out and talking to people, you’ll spend lots of money and wonder why you don’t have more business.

Building the “like” factor

The “like” factor reflects your ability to connect with people and be seen as someone who genuinely cares about others. Just as an aggressive, self-serving, “shark” persona will not work in your favor, neither will reluctance to talk to people in person.

Regular attendance at the same networking events can boost the “like” factor. But it will also depend on how well you express interest in the people you meet. For example:

  • Do you frequently refer people to other professionals?
  • Do you care enough about the success of others in the organization to volunteer in a leadership position?
  • Do you invite people you meet to have lunch or coffee with you so you can get to know more about them?
  • Do you send personal follow-up notes or something of interest that shows you paid attention to them?

Building the “like” factor takes time. If you show up at an event once and expect results, you’re focused on the sale rather than the people. Yes, you can go too far and volunteer your time without seeing business results. That’s not what I’m talking about. You need to let people know what you do, and it’s wise to gauge the value of your involvement with people and organizations. But if you’re too focused on the sale at all times, you miss out on the long-term benefits.

Building the “trust” factor

People may know you and even like you, but if they don’t trust you to deliver a service that positively impacts their lives or business you won’t get the sale. Gaining people’s trust is based on your perceived expertise. For example:

  • Have you declared a target market or specific area of knowledge, something that tells people you know your stuff?
  • Do you write articles, produce products, conduct workshops, or speak to groups so that people can sample your expertise before they spend money with you?
  • Do you set aside time on a regular basis to become more familiar with the issues that face the people you serve and come up with new solutions to help them?
  • Do you know how to represent yourself well and use marketing language effectively, so that people understand who you work with and what problems you solve?
  • When you belong to an organization, do you find ways to share your expertise with the members so that they can understand what you do and tell others?

Quality business relationships don’t happen overnight; they happen over time. It can be difficult to accept this if you are worried about paying the mortgage. But if you can embrace the know-like-and-trust-factor, and learn to understand the value of your investment in it, you may ultimately see results that you could mistake for miracles. Hang in there!

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