Today’s Lesson Plan: Building Trust

Today’s Lesson Plan: Building Trust


I recently posted a tweet of an old quote from Zig Ziglar: “If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”

Here’s a simple question for all of you, especially those in retail. What have you done to build trust with your target audience?

The truth is, building trust, no matter what your business is, has always been the most critical component of success. These days consumers have so many choices, and building trust becomes that much more critical.

Wandering through cyberspace I found an interesting article and website I want to suggest you bookmark, The author, Harvey Simkovits, listed nine components to building trust and then added two more—when you have to regain trust after losing it. I’ve added my own definitions to his list.

Rapport: build relationships.
Honesty: being truthful is critical.
Sincerity: follow through on your promises.
Respect for Self and Others: it’s all in the way you’re perceived in your communications and actions.
Openness: the more open you are the more trust you’ll gain.
Competency: you don’t have to be the expert on everything, but your staff does.
Mutualism: stay focused on win-win scenarios with all parties involved in the process.
Admission: when you do make a mistake, don’t sweep it under the rug.
Recovery: when you don’t keep a promise, be up front on why, apologize and then work to follow through.

Just think about the choices consumers have today to buy virtually any product, especially in photography. A quick trip to Google to find out how many Internet users there are in the world yields this: forecasts the number of Internet shoppers in the U.S. market will hit 211 million in 2016.

While those numbers might seem overwhelming, the truth is, especially in photography, the retailer with a brick-and-mortar location actually has the unique advantage of being able to physically show products, help the consumer, and in turn build that all-important trust.

And, a retailer with a great website, a consistent blog and good inventory is already on the path to building trust. Here’s a checklist of trust-building components you want to make sure you’re on top of as they relate to retail and the business of photography.

A Trust-Building Checklist

Your reputation. The word “reputation” has so much more depth today than during the days before the Internet. Because shoppers have so many choices to buy from, your reputation plays a critical role.

Let’s start with the design of your website. Just like a retail storefront, it needs to be easy to navigate. It needs to have the right inventory/selection, and it needs great graphics so people can see what they’re buying. Like the difference between Macy’s and Nordstrom, a visit to your site needs to be an experience that stands out. Your website needs to be a place where people like to shop and, even more important, share with friends.

Pricing. Everybody always thinks pricing is the only key. Sorry, I don’t buy it. Being competitive is a key and pricing is one serious component, but so are add-on promotional items, packages and a broad range of accessories.
Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane to Polaroid, where I first met many of you. Polaroid did a lot of research on the concept behind the Spectra line. When it was introduced, it was the largest instant photography system in the world, with dozens of accessories. Polaroid had worked hard to build out a broad selection of accessories after research showed consumers wanted products with more choices to enhance their creativity and picture-taking experience.

Well, here’s where the depth of your inventory, educational programs and the support you give each customer plays a role, together with your pricing.

Your Blog. In previous columns I’ve talked about your website being about what you sell, while your blog is about what’s in your heart. Staying consistent with regular posts (at least twice a week) helps you build a relationship with your readership. Relevant content gives you a chance to talk about their primary interests in photography. Again, everything you’re doing is under the umbrella of building trust and, in turn, building a relationship with your target audience.

Educational Programs. With technology changing every day, as I’ve written in the past, the photo retailer has an opportunity to help customers raise the bar on their skill set. Whether it’s mom just doing grab shots with her phone or somebody in the family with more sophisticated gear, the goal is to help them develop a unique pride in their images. Through your website, blog and in-store programs, you have a chance to set the pace in helping them become better artists.

Transactions, Delivery Time and Return Policies. They’re all part of what makes the experience your customers have memorable, obviously in a positive way. Keep things simple, stand behind your promises and be ready to handle complaints quickly. Remember, every consumer today has the reach only a photographic magazine had just a few years ago.

Hopefully, I’ve given you some things to think about. And here’s one more: you’ve got to make yourself unique. Look for ways to make your business stand out. Bring your employees into the process, so they understand the importance of the role they play in building a stronger business.