There’s an old adage in comedy that if you have to tell people you’re funny, you’re probably not. In marketing, the adage is about trust. If you have to tell me to trust you, I probably don’t. That can be a real problem for services companies trying to compete post-pandemic. Not for some of them. For all of them. Whether we’re talking about pest control, glass repair, doing taxes or giving massages, consumers’ relationships with services companies are inextricably linked to how much they trust them and building trust takes time. Unfortunately, for most services companies, and especially those in a challenger brand position fighting the category leaders, time is a luxury they simply don’t have.
Every Relationship Starts Here.
Split services companies into those that are successful and those that are unsuccessful, and one commonality is likely to be present: successful services companies think of their customers as relationships. Unsuccessful services companies see their customers as transactions. Relationships built on trust are lasting and often weather less than perfect conditions. Transactions are fleeting, with limited loyalty and built on whim. Which would you rather be?
In his book, “Becoming A Category Of One,” author Joe Calloway describes the difference this way: “your brand is what people think it’s like to do business with you.” What is it like to do business with you? Think for a second about your personal relationships. What is it that makes some of them last and grow stronger, while others either never quite take, or simply wither away? Every answer is grounded in trust. Whether you’re building a relationship with a friend, or a brand, the questions are the same:
- Are you who you say you are?
- Will you keep the promises you make?
- Are you consistent and honest?
- Are you helpful and authentic?
- Do you do what is right and admit your mistakes?
For services companies – for challenger brands – lasting success starts with building relationships and that action is predicated on trust.
The Clock Is Ticking
As we mentioned above, building relationships takes consistency over time. But what if you’re a brand that simply can’t wait years to foster trust? As of this summer, a Harvard Economic Tracker showed there were “37.5% fewer small businesses open nationwide compared with January 2020, two months before the pandemic hit the United States.” Time is clearly of the essence. Fortunately, there is something services companies can do to speed up the process and strengthen the traction they need from their customers.