Billy Joel sang about it, “I’ve lived long enough to have learned: The closer you get to the fire, the more you get burned.” It’s so simple to talk about, but tough to build. Great relationships are built on it. Many have been destroyed by a lack of it.
The word of the day for our Marketing Therapy blog is trust. In your personal life, having trust issues may lead to difficulty in forming or maintaining healthy relationships, undue jealousy, anger, fear and anxiety, difficulty with communication, and a host of other problems. In business, difficulty trusting might not lead to similarly damaging results, but it may keep you from reaching your goals. Those who don’t trust will often take on too much responsibility, refuse to delegate, experience fear and anxiety, and fail to take necessary chances. Sound familiar? Let’s talk about it!
Where do trust issues come from? Typically, trust issues arise from unmet expectations (whether or not they were known or realistic), broken promises, lies, and other mistreatments or disappointments. Perhaps a marketer talked to you about overnight success in terms of audience growth, engagement, and conversions. Maybe you expected immediate ROI. You thought the market was overly ripe for your product or service, and that if you could just get the word out, everyone would run to your website or store as quickly as they could. Or maybe you sank your funding into efforts that just weren’t right for you, or you jumped in too quickly without exploring options.
How do I learn to trust again? You’ve heard that trust is earned, and that’s true. It is also a two-way street. Those with trust issues not only need to ensure that they are trustworthy, they also need to work to recognize trustworthy behavior in others. When working with an agency, partner, client, etc., these considerations will help grow trust:
- Start by clearly communicating your expectations; state what you expect, including the cost, time frame, and quantifiable results.
- Listen to feedback about your expectations with an open mind. Most marketers want your dreams of success to come true. A trustworthy marketer will tell you that, but will also help you align your expectations with the reality of your budget, your competition, and other factors that can affect sales. If you’re launching a new product without research, your team should tell you that effective marketing will take time and a bit of trial and error.
- Ask questions. If you do not understand something, ask.. Don’t worry about displaying a lack of knowledge; no one can be an expert in every subject. To quote a great philosopher (Big Bird), “asking questions is a great way of finding things out.”
- Repeat the above steps until you feel comfortable proceeding.
Time doesn’t heal all wounds. It really doesn’t – not in real life, not in relationships, and not in your marketing journey. Time plus work plus trustworthy behavior heals the wounds of broken trust. Throughout the journey, everyone plays a part, and communication remains key.
- Your marketing team should have a plan to communicate results to you. Whether this is a formal monthly or quarterly report, a simple email, or an annual phone call, it is important to touch base on an agreed upon schedule.
- When your expectations change, communicate this to your team. If you read about something that you think they should be doing, communicate it. They may have solid reasons for why something is not right for you and your brand. Or you may have just found something very exciting that they are willing to explore for you.
- When your expectations are not being met, communicate this to your team, keeping an open mind. Unfortunately, typos happen occasionally, scheduling programs fail, ads don’t always yield results. If and when a problem arises, clear communication and a plan to reach a solution is more important than perfection.
Over time, with clear communication and a spirit of cooperation, your marketing efforts can shine. You can learn to trust again!