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The Modern Marketing Blog covers the latest in marketing strategy, technology, and innovation.

The marketing of choice for consumers: Trust

Consumers head to the grocery store each week, with no idea where the food they’re buying originated. While many shoppers may assume the lettuce and tomatoes they’re buying were sourced from local farmers, in actuality that’s rarely the case. In fact, as a recent blog from GrubHub points out, the food in grocery stores usually travels about 1500 miles before it reaches a family’s home.

Businesses may not realize it, but customers place a certain amount of trust in them. They assume a company provides only safe, healthy produce free of preservatives and chemicals. This level of trust isn’t limited to grocery stores, either. Restaurants, retailers, and even furniture stores operate based on a level of trust between themselves and their customers. It’s important that brands not only build and maintain that trust, but let customers know about it through their marketing efforts.

Building Trust

From the time you open for business, you begin establishing trust with your customers. They tentatively try your products or services out and if they like the experience, they return. If they’re really excited, they tell others. Over time, this leads to a gradual increase in customer loyalty that helps a business become a vital part of the community.

But for many businesses, the perception of trust can make a big difference in winning new customers. It’s for that very reason that many local businesses will use marketing terms like, “a name you can trust” or “your neighborhood bank”. The marketing goal for many local brands is to show that because they’re part of the same town, they’re a valuable resource, like a trusted friend or relative.

Over the last 6 months I've been building up online trust with my latest online invoicing startup Due. Trust is the only thing that customers want and need to purchase a product. Once a customer trusts you, they will purchase everything you have.

Maintaining Trust

Local entrepreneurs should work hard to maintain that relationship with their regular customers. This includes always ensuring the products you provide have something they can’t get from chain establishments. Local grocers and restaurants should offer fresh foods sourced from local farms and farmer’s markets. Local boutiques and retailers should make sure they offer products their customers can’t get elsewhere.

Customer service is a large part of maintaining trust between your business and the people you serve. You should get to know your customers, remembering names and important details about their buying preferences. Have a flexible return policy and take measures to make sure each customer is 100 percent satisfied with your brand. For local businesses, this personal touch can be the differentiating factor between shopping with you and one of the national chains located within a short driving distance.

Recovering Trust

Even the most diligent business will eventually suffer reputation damage. This could be something as small as a bad review on Yelp. It could also be a much more large-scale problem like a data breach that puts customers at risk of identity theft. Whenever something happens that threatens to harm a company’s trust relationship with its customers, it’s important to react appropriately to carefully rebuild that trust.

A reputation ding doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, many businesses have used the opportunity to show loyal customers that they take such issues very seriously. If the issue is a bad online review, Yelp has some great advice. You may even be able to turn a disgruntled customer into your most loyal customer. If the situation is a data breach, you have the opportunity to show your customers you utilize the top security available today to fix the problem.

As you build your marketing campaign, remember that building and maintaining customer trust is an important part of your business model. When you can emphasize your commitment to customer service in your print and online marketing materials, you’ll make a big difference in your business’s local reputation.

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